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Dogs have poop compass: 70 dogs defecating thousands of times compiled for study

Dogs have a built-in poop compass suggests the latest research, but why would you want to know this?
Dogs have a built-in poop compass suggests the latest research, but why would you want to know this?

Some dogs go around in circles before finding just the right spot to poop in and scientists today believe they know why. It is not the spot the dogs are after, but the direction they need to be in while they defecate. The dog is aligning itself with the Earth’s magnetic field. Apparently dogs are equipped with some kind of poop compass.

A team of German and Czech scientists found that a dog will stand in alignment with the magnetic field of the Earth when making a bowel movement, according to the Christian Science Monitor on Jan. 2.

Dogs have a poop compass, or at least that is what the latest study suggests. Why would anyone want to study this and what could you possibly use the information that you extract from this study for? NBC News asks, "Does an internal compass dictate how dogs line up when they defecate? How do you figure that out? And why would you want to?"

Many dog owners have observed their four-legged best friends turn around in a circle, sometimes making two or three trips around that circle before settling down to poop. It is not that far-fetched to believe that dogs have an innate need to align with the Earth’s magnetic field as other living things like bacteria, mollusks, chickens, homing pigeons and insects have been observed doing for some time now.

These animals were found to align with the Earth’s magnetic field to get their sense of direction. There is also research that suggests some mammals also have this ability, like rodents, bats, foxes, cattle and deer.

Up until now, many people thought that dogs went around in that circle to mow down the high grass when they are about to relieve themselves. This is something that was thought hard-wired in the dogs because they seem to do this whether they are in a high-grass area or not, before making a deposit. Many dogs do the circle ritual right before they lie down, which was also theorized as an innate behavior to flatten the grass before settling in to sleep.

Are dogs hard-wired to get their sense of direction when they are in a vulnerable situation such as making a bowel movement or laying down? Does this give them an advantage if the need should arise for them to flee from a predator?

It sounds like dogs have an innate need to poop in the right direction, or at least that is what this study suggests. While this subject could make interesting chit-chat, does this really constitute a study on dogs preferred direction for pooping and urinating?

The study consisted of 37 dog owners, 70 dogs and 7,475 recorded instances of animals relieving themselves under their owner’s watchful eye. The dog owner’s documented the behavior and the researchers put it all together.

The owners measured the dog’s alignment of their spines when they were fed, rested, urinated and defecated. The observations of dogs defecating and urinating appeared to be the “most promising” when it came to aligning themselves with the earth’s magnetic field.

“When our planet's magnetic field is quiet, dogs are more likely to do their business while standing along a north-south axis. Indeed, the data suggested that the animals were actively avoiding the east-west axis.”

The findings of this study appear in the Frontiers in Zoology journal under the title “Open New Horizons for Biomagnetic Research.

While interesting data, where could these findings be applied? Will it help when training a new puppy to go the bathroom outside? The study did not suggest any areas that their findings might be applied to.

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