Associations between motor, sensory and structural lateralisation and guide dog success

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The aim of this study was to determine whether objective measures of laterality could be used to identify dogs with a high probability of successfully completing a Guide DogTraining Programme. Three categories of laterality (motor, sensory, and structural), were assessed in 114 dogs entering guide dog training. Significant predictors of success were identified: the direction of laterality (P = 0.028), paw preference category in the ‘Kong’ test (P = 0.043), hindpaw clearance height (P = 0.002), laterality indices for a number of measures in the Sensory Jump test, and chest hair whorl direction (P = 0.050). This is the first study to report a structural marker of canine behaviour. All three categories of laterality may be used to predict the suitability of dogs for guiding work, and by identifying predictors of success, resources can be more efficiently utilised on dogs with greater potential.