November 17, 2017 – Learning Puzzle Prequel

The Brain Games project continues!

So apparently I missed this part originally, but I went back to fix that. These are basic ‘getting to know your dog’ exercises.

Left or Right Pawed-threw a ball or cookie and watched which foot was taken off with first for numerous repetitions.

Chest Hair Curl – does the swirl on their chest curl counterclockwise or clockwise?

Yawn Copy – does the dog yawn back?

There was also a test to see which eye your dog prefers to work off of, but it involved desensitizing a blindfold and sending the dog over a jump, among other exercises. That would be a long term project for Sei and Perrin, so we skipped it.

These traits were then compared to some service dog studies.


Left or Right Pawed? Left? Ambidextrous? There was a slight preference for left, but it was not very strong. Not sure if the difference is statistically significant.

Chest Hair Curl? Clockwise

Yawn Copy? No


Left or Right Pawed? Right

Chest Hair Curl? Counter-Clockwise

Yawn Copy? No

With the yawning, I have tried this quite a lot over the last few months. Neither Perrin nor Sei yawn if I yawn, but I often yawn if one of them yawn.

The other two characteristics are kind of interesting, compared to the service dog studies. They found that there was a correlation between right-pawed dogs and twice the success rate in service dog programs, while dogs with a counter-clockwise chest whorl were also twice as successful in service dog programs. Clockwise whorls were more likely to be anxious. The idea behind those was that right pawed dogs are bolder and inquisitive, while another study suggested that right pawed dogs had an easier time understanding language while left pawed dogs are more fearful and reactive. Perrin can be a bit dog reactive, and he isn’t terribly verbal, however he is certainly bold and inquisitive. Sei on the other hand is much more cautious and prone to anxiety. I wouldn’t go so far as to say fearful or reactive, but he is definitely less bold and confident than Perrin is. Sei is however, much more verbal than Perrin, even at Sei’s young age. These differences do seem typical long Sei’s and Perrin’s breed characteristics though. Sei is a more observant, sensitive, thoughtful herding breed, while Perrin is a bolder, confident sport breed mix.

I’m not sure how useful comparing any individual dog to those studies is, however. I don’t actually know where to find the original studies, so don’t know how they were done, or on what dogs they were done on. I would guess that this study was looking at the differences in left vs right pawed dogs and the whorl direction in dogs of the same breed/type (to my knowledge the most common service dog breeds are labs and goldens, both sporting breeds). I would bet that the differences between dogs of different breeds are much larger than the differences between dogs who are left/right pawed or with different whorl directions.



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