Dogs Align Themselves North-South To Poop

We don’t know what to make of this, so we’ll just present it for your opinion: At the Fox News website we found: Scientists discover dogs’ preferred bathroom position. That article says, with bold font added by us:

Scientists discovered that dogs across a variety of breeds align their body axis with the Earth’s magnetic field (MF) when relieving themselves.

That’s something we’ve never noticed. Let us proceed:

70 dogs out of 37 different breeds — beagles and dachshunds and Yorkshire terriers, oh my! — were observed going number two 1,893 times and number one 5,582 times over the course of a two-year period. And they preferred to excrete when their body was aligned along the north-south axis under calm MF conditions, according to a new report in the journal Frontiers in Zoology.

That journal appears to be the real thing. Here’s a link to the paper: Dogs are sensitive to small variations of the Earth’s magnetic field. We’ll stay with the Fox News story, which then says:

“It is still enigmatic why the dogs do align at all, whether they do it ‘consciously’ … or whether its reception is controlled on the vegetative level (they ‘feel better/more comfortable or worse/less comfortable’ in a certain direction),” wrote researchers …

The next excerpt may cause you to check the calendar to see if this might be April first, but it’s not, and we’re quoting accurately. The ellipsis is in the Fox story:

Our analysis of the raw data … indicates that dogs not only prefer N-S direction, but at the same time they also avoid E-W direction,” they wrote.

We checked that quote with the published paper. The ellipsis doesn’t have any significance. This is from the actual paper:

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.

One final excerpt from Fox:

This is the first time that magnetic sensitivity has been proven in dogs. But there are several other species that are also sensitive to the Earth’s magnetic field, the researchers said, including foxes, cattle and deer.

Besides magnetic sensitivity, there’s also celestial perception. We’re still intrigued by this: Dung Beetles Navigate by the Stars.

From now on, we shall pay even more attention than usual when our two splendid dogs go out to do what dogs must do. We’re already aware that they like to circle around before they settle on just the right spot, but we’ve never noticed their north-south alignment. Henceforth, we’ll be more observant.

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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17 responses to “Dogs Align Themselves North-South To Poop

  1. their body was aligned along the north-south axis under calm MF conditions

    Heavens to Betsy! I wonder why they felt the need to use that adjective?

  2. OK all you arrogant Darwinists, surely this must finally persuade you that ours is indeed a Privileged Planet, with a magnetic field exquisitely fine-tuned for the benefit of Man’s Best Friend! The odds against such things arising by random chance are at least 47 gazillion to one against!

    All Praise the Intelligent Designer (Blessed be He/She/It!)

  3. Nah, it’s a simple case of dogs cleverly employing the Coriolis effect — not the one of psychophysical perception — to ease matters along when going about their business, and simultaneously paying homage to doG Canis Major, the Intelligent Barker (Brushed be He!)…

  4. I can now report my first data-point since publishing this post. It was provided by Aaaargh!! Verily, in accordance with the published study, he was facing north. It would swiftly become tedious if I reported all my observations; therefore, in the interest of parsimony I shall mention only anomalous alignments.

  5. I herewith publish to the world the Megalonyx Magnetic Egnorance Hypothesis, which predicts that the desk and seating arrangement inside the Discovery Institute is such that their coterie of distinguished creationists are compelled to align their body axis with the Earth’s magnetic field prior to relieving themselves of their little parcels of blog posts.

    I am hoping to enlist David McConaghie to help gather the data required to confirm the above hypothesis.

  6. There are many bacteria (“magnetotactic”) that have nanoparticles of what the ancients called lodestone (a magnetic iron-oxygen compound) arranged in a line within the cell. They use it as a compass needle to find their way around. (You know, to dinner parties and art museums.)

    It’s been hypothesized that larger animals, even humans, have similiar magnetic nanoparticles in their brains. But, a few nanoparticles are damn hard to find in a great big old brain, so this hasn’t been proven. (But, as a precaution, watch your step around the Faraday balance!)

    But, for this particular activity…..North-South? Can’t see any advantage to that. To each his own.

  7. Slightly off topic here, but I saw an amusing comment by a US dude.
    “dogs have owners, cats have staff”
    Well, that means I’m just the secretary here as my cat, James, does his stuff facing north.

  8. SC said “Henceforth we’ll be more observant”
    A refrigerator magnet with the following on it, could also
    be helpful when studying canines relieving themselves.
    “Look carefully where thee walk” Ephesians 5-15,,

  9. I guess I’m too pragmatic. I looked at the data and saw dogs keeping the sun out of their eyes. We need more data on equatorial and southern hemisphere pooping to reach the conclusion that dogs have magnetic sensitivity.

  10. Chris says: “I looked at the data and saw dogs keeping the sun out of their eyes.”

    That can’t be it. If it were, they’d routinely face West in the morning, for example. But the study says they avoid East-West alignment.

  11. @realthog: Yeah, I wondered about “MF” as well, but then we see above, “magnetic field (MF)”.

    More to the point, the article states that the calm MF conditions in which the dogs align N-S occur only 20% of the time during daylight, and the alignment “was abolished” under unstable MF conditions. So, Curmy, in order to test this with your dogs, you would need a sensitive magnetometer.

    To test if it truly is the magnetic field causing doggy defecation alignment, researchers should construct a large magnetic coil apparatus to generate a stronger field than the Earth’s, and then observe if the dogs align with it instead. This was the method used to prove that birds can detect magnetic field alignment and use it for navigation. There may be something besides the Earth’s magnetic field at work here instead.

    Remember that study a few years ago purporting to show that cattle align themselves N-S while grazing? The data was gathered by closely studying satellite images. The researchers’ conclusion was that the cattle must be detecting the Earth’s magnetic field. However, they made no mention of the obvious — satellite photos are taken midday, when the light is best (and the sun is south [north in the Southern Hemisphere]), and only on clear days, obviously. The cows may have just been keeping the sun out of their eyes, as Chris suggested for the dogs.

    In other words, more research is needed before we can conclude that dogs are sensitive to magnetic fields.

  12. Pope retiredsciguy indicates that

    more research is needed before we can conclude that dogs are sensitive to magnetic fields

    Indeed! Just as Neo proclaimed, we need

    Pooper-scoopers. Lots of pooper scoopers!

  13. Okay, so get a few dogs into an enclosure sealed off from outside visual cues, create a magnetic field stronger than the ambient MF, and align it east-west. Put out some steaks and some newspaper. See what happens. This is the way you do science!

    Also, if this study bears verification, does it mean that, if you want your dog to do his business quickly, you’re better off walking him or her on north-south-going streets than on east-west-going streets?

  14. Lurker111 endeavours to entrap us:

    get a few dogs into an enclosure sealed off from outside visual cues, create a magnetic field stronger than the ambient MF, and align it east-west. Put out some steaks and some newspaper. See what happens. This is the way you do science!

    Nay! For verily, that is the path that leadeth unto the Lake of Fire!

    Far less messy is the Creationist approach, as follows:

    Stand in front of a back-projected green-screen “lab” and pop open your well-thumbed Bible Concordance, wherein you find precisely three scriptural references to canines, to wit:

    Luke 16:20-21: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, and desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.

    The gate, of course, would have been facing east as was the norm in ancient Judea; as Lazarus would doubtless have been laid across the gate in order to block the egress of the wealthy lord of the house, he would have been oriented north-south, and the dogs licking his sores would thus be aligned east-west. As infallible scripture does not specify that the dogs shifted from that orientation when it came to defecating, we must assume they also did their ‘business’ while aligned against the grain of the earth’s magnetic field. Unless, that is, magnetic north was in fact due east or west in Biblical times, as it may have been if God had so willed it, and unless you were there, you cannot gainsay this. Quod erat demonstrandum.

    If, however, you are so steeped in your blasphemous urges you nonetheless presume to challenge the Word of God, take ye heed of Revelations 22:15, wherein it is written:

    For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.

    And if that warning doesn’t led you to repent and return to the Path of Righteousness, then truly there is no hope of thee–for thou art, as sayeth Proverbs 26:11:

    As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.

    …Now that’s the way the DI does science!

  15. I must give you a follow-up report. We have a doggie door so the splendid animals can go out whenever they want; therefore I don’t observe every incident. Nevertheless, I have seen my dog, Aaaargh!!, do the deed on two different occasions while aligned in an east-west direction.