If you have a dog, you know the drill – even if it’s so hot you’re dripping sweat and can literally feel your skin burning, and even if it’s so cold you can barely hold a leash with your frozen fingers, they’re absolutely not going to do their business until they find the perfect spot.
Then, they’re going to turn around several times, squat, perhaps adjust, and finally take that long-awaited dump.
What I have to tell you today isn’t going to make your dog-walking experience any more pleasant, but hey, it is going to teach you something about your best friend. Sometimes, that’s the best you can hope for when the situation contains poo, right?
It turns out your dog isn’t searching for an arbitrary “best” spot go do their business – they’re actually doing their best to line their behind up with Earth’s magnetic field.
Not only that, but a study, published in Frontiers in Zoology, also found that they prefer a north-south axis for their dumping grounds.
The researchers found that dogs are sensitive to small variations in the Earth’s magnetic field, and after studying 70 dogs (37 different breeds) over the course of 2 years, they learned that under “calm magnetic field conditions,” dogs preferred to “excrete with the body being aligned along the north-south axis.”
They avoided east-west altogether, actually. Also, the dogs in the study were entirely unconfined and unleashed, leaving them free to do their business exactly where they pleased.
What the study did not learn was why canines prefer to poop in a certain direction.
“It is still enigmatic why the dogs do align at all, whether they do it “consciously” (i.e., whether the magnetic field is sensorial perceived (the dogs “see”, “hear” or “smell” the compass direction or perceive it as a haptic stimulus)) or whether its reception is controlled on the vegetative level (they “feel better/more comfortable or worse/less comfortable” in a certain direction).”
Either way, it’s certainly interesting and the scientists involved hope their findings will open “new horizons” for further research in organisms’ use of magnetic fields for direction.
So now you have something to share with your friend at the dog park the next time you’re both waiting around, freezing to death waiting for your pups to line up.