January 3, 2014

"Dogs have a tendency to align themselves along a north-south axis when going to the bathroom, say scientists."

Caption at the Christian Science Monitor. I love the use of the expression "going to the bathroom." For a dog, the whole world is "the bathroom."
The two-year study, which involved 37 dog owners, 70 dogs, and 7,475 instances of the animals relieving themselves outside while their owners dutifully took notes, is the first demonstration of magnetic sensitivity in dogs. The authors write that their findings, which appeared last week in the journal Frontiers in Zoology, "open new horizons for biomagnetic research." 
Hmm.

35 comments:

Bob Ellison said...

The article does not say whether these scientists are aware that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, and that that's a far more powerful polar-alignment effect than the puny magnetic effect that makes compasses work.

Dogs also tend to look around before and while pooping, peeing, and eating. It might be that they're cautious during such activities, but it might be that they're all NSA spies.

Strelnikov said...

Why do I feel that my tax dollars were used for this nonsense?

DKWalser said...

This is very useful information. Next time we need to board our dog at a kennel, I'll make sure the dog runs are properly oriented.

Patrick said...

LOL MYTHESIS.TUMBLR.COM

Paul Zrimsek said...

Don't cross the streams. It would be bad.

Michael K said...

My dog always poops facing downhill, if possible. This creates the risk of having to wipe his bottom. I've tried to convince him to face uphill but it hasn't worked yet. East-West, North-South no effect.

jacksonjay said...


Dung Shui

JRoberts said...

Think how much grant money these scientists could have received if they had linked this to study to Global Warming.

Cedarford said...

The study, as Ellison notes, does not note if the dogs (and their diurinal canine forebears) note alignment by either solar or magnetic clues. Could be magnetic! OK, prove it. Raise dogs indoors 100% and see if they align N-S when relieving themselves. Go to a puppy mill or something.
And what behavior is seen in wolves and foxes, etc.??
As for the "value" of the study, it's hard to say. It's basic knowledge that can perhaps be applied to the multibillion a year pet industry and perhaps to animal control in understanding undesirable predation by canines..
Or it could just go under "neat but useless" info the taxpayers spent money on some bogus study for. (But government wastes enormous money on other dubious grants. A small bridge near me was built in the Depression for 38,000 dollars in under 2 weeks inc concrete cure time when traffic on it started. The replacement bridge has been "under construction" with endless State and Fed grants for two years, with 4 Volvo excavators mostly sitting idle for 8 months a year..crew no where tobe seen...27 million at last count...)

The Elder said...

Wow! What useful research.

My dogs don't seem to care about the north-south axis orientation. They seem to also use an east-west centrifugal force orientation about 50 percent of the time. In fact, I hypothesize that other dogs do, too.

Where do I apply to get public funding of this important scientific study?

RecChief said...

opening new frontiers in government grants.

Fixed it for him

RecChief said...

and, stistically, what is the difference in the number of times a dog "aligns with" with the magnetic field and doesn't? And does the dog have to be perfectly aligned? or is there a fudge factor?

I guess there will have to be a federal grant to find out eh?

Lucien said...

What, no link to the grant proposal?

Broomhandle said...

I saw this theory repeatedly disproved this morning. The science is not settled!

Sam L. said...

My dog doesn't align with north, or any particular direction.

Tofu King said...

I checked this morning on our walk and sure enough, she was lined up toward magnetic north (+17 degree declination in Oregon). It's only one sample, so could be a coincidence.

Bob Ellison said...

Well, hang it, I just took the dogs for a walk, and the only pooper pooped northward. Er, southward, depending on which end you might consider the business end. Her snout was pointed pretty close to due north.

MadisonMan said...

The streets I walk are aligned n/s and e/w -- so there is a lot of constraints on my dog. The snowbanks preclude off-sidewalk elimination.

St. George said...

Personally, I've been focused on the fox in the donkey meat story.

Ipso Fatso said...

Ladies, guys and dogs have one thing in common: your world is our bathroom.

Andy Freeman said...

The Oprah-narrated nature show said that some arctic dog-relative was far more likely to catch a rodent by diving through snow when the DR was aligned with magnetic north.

It's an amazing technique. The DR is stands and sniffs and then suddenly jumps up in the air, turns nose-down, and dives into the snow. For a couple of seconds, all you can see are hind-legs, then the DR pops up, with or without a rodent in its jaws.

Or, maybe it was faked like some of the other footage. (They killed a seal so they could show the starfish devouring it in time-lapse and also rigged time-lapse "lots of plants growing" shots.)

William said...

I wonder if this holds true for werewolves.

richardsson said...

Oh, I don't know about that. I used to walk my cousin's dog on east west streets and he used to go facing east.

MadisonMan said...

This reminds me of a joke:

Day 19, I have successfully conditioned my master to smile and write in his book every time I drool.- Pavlov's Dog

Insufficiently Sensitive said...

Out in the wilds of the internet is a breathlessly-narrated video of a fox hunting mice who live in the grass under the snow. He very photogenically pounces high, lands nose-first and occasionally emerges from under the snow with a mouse in his mouth.

The connection? The voice-over dude triumphantly concludes that when he's oriented on magnetic north, he's more likely to score on the mouse.

Aint science great! But is this science, and does it relate to canine poopery?

Mary Beth said...

The north-south preference was only under calm magnetic field conditions which was only 20% of the daylight period.

abstract with link to paper

CStanley said...

Jacksonjay= thread winner

Bob Ellison said...

Mary Beth, I have time to dig deeper (yuck) into this, but I won't.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

If there is any truth at all to this report, I'd suggest it may have more to do with prevailing winds than magnetic poles.

Bob Ellison said...

Left Bank of the Charles, you have opened the floodgates of speculation! I cannot stanch the flow; I can only attempt to guide it.

Truly, prevailing wind patterns could be a powerful vector. Who wants to poop sideways, and thus broadcast one's poopchievement? Better to poop against the wind, though-- poop Westward, young dog!

Dogs tend to have a keen sense of smell, too. Maybe there is a huge bacon-scent source somewhere to the west or east that we humans are too weak to discern.

Maybe dogs like the sound of farts, and turn their ears perpendicular to the wind in order to hear them more clearly.

Maybe there is a Mecca-like place at the North Pole, and dogs face it (or opposite it; not sure here) in devotion. Smite me lightly if this conjecture is blasphemous!

Scott said...

My dog does the hokey-pokey, and she turns herself around.

The Godfather said...

My God! Think of the constructive ways that this information can be used to better the lot of mankind! (Dog kind can obviously take care of itself.)

tom faranda said...

This COULD be useful information. For example, let's say you're walking your dog in the woods, you don't have a compass, and you get lost. Wait for the dog to "go" and then you can reorient yourself - could save your life!!!

Michael Deloatch said...

It's very logical from the canine point of view. Given the earth's angular velocity, aligning your sausages on the ground north-south means they will roll farther away than otherwise.

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