Relationship Between Paw Preference Strength and Noise Phobia in Canis familiaris

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The authors investigated the relationship between degree of lateralization and noise phobia in 48 domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) by scoring paw preference to hold a food object and relating it to reactivity to the sounds of thunderstorms and fireworks, measured by playback and a questionnaire. The dogs without a significant paw preference were significantly more reactive to the sounds than the dogs with either a left-paw or right-paw preference. Intense reactivity, therefore, is associated with a weaker strength of cerebral lateralization. The authors note the similarity between their finding and the weaker hand preferences shown in humans suffering extreme levels of anxiety and suggest neural mechanisms that may be involved.