Poop and Compass

Dogs: contemplative and seekers of True North

I grew up always having a dog, but it has been years since I had a dog in the house. So, I will have to ask you to confirm or disprove this piece of science I found recently.

We have all observed dogs doing their little circle dance before pooping. They do something similar before they settle down for a nap or sleep. I’m pretty sure I had read once that this was some ancient dog ritual for checking the safety of the spot before proceeding. Now, I read that dogs align themselves with the Earth’s magnetic field before pooping..

We have learned that other animals, particularly birds that migrate long distances, can sense the orientation of the Earth’s magnetic field. This is true of whales and bees. The new study seems to indicate that dogs also have magnetosensitivity.

Research being what it is, these scientists did two years of poop and pee observations. They ruled out other influences (wind, time of day, Sun’s angle, leashes, fire hydrants, fences etc.) and decided it was the Earth’s magnetic field. The dogs aligned themselves with the North-South axis and avoided the East-West axis.

Do they feel some magnetic pull? Well, they also found that when there were periods of instability in the Earth’s magnetic field (like when the sun’s magnetic field or solar winds kick up as they did recently)  the dogs did not prefer for the North-South axis.

Since many of us carry a compass on our smartphones or can at least identify the East-West axis by the morning and afternoon sun, I say we conduct our own research and report the results here as a comment.  I know that I am going to pay closer attention to the dogs I see on my rambles in the park. Hopefully, owners won’t call the police.


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A lifelong educator on and off the Internet. Random by design and predictably irrational. It's turtles all the way down. Dolce far niente.

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