I read once that dogs turn in a circle before they poop because they’re trying to align with the earth’s magnetic field.
For years, I’ve thought about this every time I reach for that poop bag, and I’m still confounded by it. Especially because, while Matilda almost always spins, Cow never does. She just starts squatting and pooping so abruptly, as though she’s totally unprepared for it.
Why would only ONE of my dogs have a magnetic butt? How does this make any sense? Why was there a study about this?
What’s A Magnetic Field Anyway?
At the earth’s core is liquid, molten iron that generates a magnetic field, with opposite magnetic fields at the North Pole and South Pole.
As the molten iron core swirls and shifts, the earth’s magnetic field changes throughout the day and throughout the year.
How Do Other Animals Use The Earth’s Magnetic Field?
It guides migratory animals like birds, turtles, fish, and whales so they instinctively know where and when to fly, crawl, or swim as the seasons change.
So, it makes sense that our dogs, too, may be sensitive to the earth’s magnetic field.
There’s even some evidence that humans pick up on magnetic fields, too, and we may have used those powers to decide where to settle hundreds of thousands of years ago, long before job markets, Zillow, and school districts.
But why the pooping?
In the famed 2014 study published by Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague, dogs were observed to align according to the North-South magnetic field while pooping, especially during times of a “calm magnetic field.” As it turns out, the magnetic field is only stable for about 20% of daylight hours, and dogs didn’t align themselves before pooping if the MF was unstable.
It’s been theorized that dogs pooped while avoiding the East-West alignment to avoid having the sun shine in their eyes, or simply because standing North-South just felt good to them.
Further studies found that dogs in dog parks were less likely to line up before pooping, possibly because they were too distracted by a fun environment to care about their poopy position.
Questions I Still Have
Do dogs turn clockwise or counterclockwise? This is something to think about.
The original study was done in Czech Republic, which, like here in the United States, is located in the Northern Hemisphere. Do dogs orient themselves differently in Australia? They’re closer to the South Pole, but otherwise, I suppose there’s no reason to think they poop any differently.
Why doesn’t Cow care about magnetic pooping? Cow is overall a more high-strung dog than Matilda, so like the dogs in the dog-park version of the experiment, maybe she’s too distracted to line up for pooping.
What about magnetic healing? Have you heard of those alternative medicine magnetic bracelets that are supposed to cure illness? It’s believed that magnets can stimulate healing and relieve pain, but the evidence is shaky, anecdotal. If it does work, is it more effective on dogs like Matilda that may be more responsive to magnetic fields, or is all woo-woo?