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Dogs poop in alignment with Earth's magnetic field

Dogart_thumb By Ellen | January 01, 2014 | Comments (1)


Dogs poop with their bodies facing a certain direction based on the Earth's magnetic field. As incredible as that sounds, a recent scientific study has proven that dogs are sensitive to small variations of the Earth's magnetic field, which affects the way they go to the bathroom.

After studying dogs for several years, a team of scientists in Europe observed that dogs preferred to poop with their body aligned along the North-South axis under calm magnetic field conditions. However, dogs did not have a directional preference when the magnetic field was unstable.

In their abstract published in Frontiers in Zoology, scientists from Czech University of Life Sciences and the University of Duisburg-Essen write:

"We measured the direction of the body axis in 70 dogs of 37 breeds during defecation (1,893 observations) and urination (5,582 observations) over a two-year period. After complete sampling, we sorted the data according to the geomagnetic conditions prevailing during the respective sampling periods.

Relative declination and intensity changes of the MF during the respective dog walks were calculated from daily magnetograms. Directional preferences of dogs under different MF conditions were analyzed and tested by means of circular statistics."

Based on their research, the scientitists concluded that the dogs' pooping behavior was predictable based on magnetic field fluctuations. The scientists were not certain as to why the dogs align at all and whether they do it consciously or unconsciously.

"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). Our analysis of the raw data (not shown here) indicates that dogs not only prefer N-S direction, but at the same time they also avoid E-W direction."

Magnetic alignment has been observed in other mammals including cattle, roe deer and red foxes.  For instance, red foxes can detect field mice under several feet of snow by homing in on the magnetic field of the planet. They use it to plan their trajectory to catch prey. And wolves have extremely large home ranges that indicate they have superior orientation abilities. Dogs too have extraordinary homing abilities which lead scientists to suspect that they also would have magnetoreception.

With this discovery in dogs, the scientists said it opens up new horizons in magnetobiological research.

Reference: "Dogs are sensitive to small variations of the Earth's magnetic field" Frontiers in Zoology 2013.



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Comments on this Article

I have never observed this with dogs, but then again I was never looking for it either. This is the first time I've heard of this capability in dogs, but it doesn't surprise me. They say that they have proved this to be true and indeed if this is the case then I find it hard to believe that it is vegetative. If I had to hazard a guess as to why they are doing it I would have to say that on their sensory level, any direction off the north south axis interferes with their senses. An example of this would be the static on a radio when you are trying to tune in a station and there is all kinds of interference before you get it on station. It makes sense that a dog wants all his senses tuned in when defecating to hear or sense any predators. The same holds true with the fox hunting field mice. I think on a sensory level that there is more involved than just hearing. I think that this also involves the whiskers on a dogs face, chin, and eyebrows. Like I mentioned in Martha's article Dec.10.2013- Sweet Pit Bull cuddles and cares for dogs just out of surgery, that perhaps it the whiskers ( from the Latin word vibrare that means to vibrate ) that are able to detect a seizure in humans before they happen. If this is the case then perhaps they can also detect changes in the magnetic field.
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