Dogs use Earth's magnetic field when pooping

Here's one more proof dogs do have magnetic personalities: a new study has shown they align their bodies with magnetic fields when they poop.

A paper published on the Frontiers in Zoology website said this is a sign dogs are "sensitive to small variations of the Earth's magnetic field."

"Dogs preferred to excrete with the body being aligned along the North-south axis under calm MF (magnetic field) conditions," the researchers said in the conclusion of the paper.

However, they noted such a directional behavior would not be displayed if the magnetic field is unstable.

In their study, they added the rate of change in declination or polar orientation of the magnetic field was the best predictor of the behavioral switch.

Pooches pooping

For a two-year period, the researchers made 1,893 observations of where some 70 pooches of 37 breeds faced while they pooped.

They also made 5,582 observations of the direction the dogs faced when they urinated.

According to the researchers, this was the first time that magnetic sensitivity was proved in dogs, and a measurable, predictable behavioral reaction upon natural magnetic field fluctuations could be unambiguously proven in a mammal.

They added the study showed "high sensitivity to small changes in polarity, rather than in intensity, of MF was identified as biologically meaningful."

But they also noted the magnetic field is calm in only about 20 percent of the daylight period, so their findings "might provide an explanation why many magnetoreception experiments were hardly replicable and why directional values of records in diverse observations are frequently compromised by scatter."

Orienting selves?

A separate article on io9.com said the researchers also suggested such a behavior indicates the dogs are taking the opportunity to orient themselves when they poop.

"We might think of this the same way as a human is stopping during a hike to read a map. When the map is blurred or the reference (perceived magnetic direction) is dispersed or moving due to magnetic disturbances, however, calibration is impossible. In the case of the dogs it thus would totally make sense to not pay attention to magnetic body alignment any more under conditions of a shifting magnetic field," io9.com said. — TJD, GMA News

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