Dogs join cattle, deer, red foxes, coyotes and grey wolves as yet another mammal to have a mechanism of “magnetoreception”. Evidently everyone poops but not all of us use the magnetic field to select our perfect spot.

For anyone who has had the experience of walking a dog or waiting patiently for them to do their business, it is common to perceive them walking in a deliberate manner and making a “choice” for their perfect spot.   Buster sniffs the ground, walks in a circle, sometimes even retraces their steps back to a previous spot as they turn around a few times. Dogs can be Divas about where they poop.  As Fluffy searches. “No, not that grass,” he seems to say. “Maybe here is better..”.  They sniff the ground and move around in a mission to find the perfect spot.  “Oooh, this one- this is it … Or over here. … Umm, maybe not.”

Then, finally, she gets into position and it is finally go time. The owner averts their gaze to give some privacy to which the pooch says a silent thanks.  They may finish with some scratching and then they are done- at least until their nose distracts them again…

According to researchers from the Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague, the pooch might be aiming to poop along a north-south axis that lines up with the Earth’s magnetic field. Weird?  Evidently- dogs are not the only ones.  Many other mammals also use this magnetoreception.

The Research Method:

The breed of the dog, its sex, age, body mass and condition were recorded as well as the date, time and location of the defecation and urination.

In the journal Frontiers in Zoology they report that after watching 70 dogs do their business over a two-year period (1,893 defecations and 5,582 urinations).


Frontiers of Zoology: Magnetoreception Study

The researchers reached the conclusion that the participants preferred to poop “aligned along the North-South axis under calm [magnetic field] conditions.” And when the magnetic field is in flux, “this directional behavior was abolished” — which might sometimes explain why your dog just can’t seem to settle on a place to go.One might ask why this discovery might be important.

Well, according to the Czech researchers, this data demonstrates a “measurable, predictable behavioral reaction” to the magnetic field’s fluctuation has been demonstrated in mammals. And that, in turn, could mean that other behavior scientists need to “revise their former experiments and observations and consider the phenomenon in their current and future experiments.” It also might mean that “biologists and physicians [should] seriously reconsider effects magnetic storms might pose on organisms.”

So it seems for our young STEM scientists out there- this field of mammals and magnetic fields may be wide open.

Although their altered behaviour was only evident under calm conditions, it’s still a breakthrough in demonstrating measurable, predictable changes in dog behaviour in response to the earth’s magnetic field.

And before you go pointing any fingers, this isn’t made up  and you can see some of their findings for yourself here

You can also go and check out some of these articles before you leave:

Can Caffeine Kill you?

The Lessons of Easter Island


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