New study reveals this bizarre conclusion
You may have seen the study which came out a while back, about how cows grazing in the field align themselves according to the Earth's magnetic field. Someone studying satellite imagery of cattle discovered this strange quirk when they noticed that in most aerial photos of grazing cows, the animals are lined up north to south, usually with their heads facing north.
It turns out that the same is true for dogs. Except when they poop.
If you have ever watched a dog getting ready to poop, you may have noticed it circling and circling with a fretful expression, as if it's trying to find the exact right spot to poop. You may have noticed what constitutes "the exact right spot to poop," for a dog. Well, the answer may be that your dog is mentally feeling around for the Earth's magnetic fields, and trying to align itself parallel to these invisible lines of force, with its head facing north.
It's not too big a stretch to suggest that dogs can sense magnetic polarity. Many animals are known to use a magnetic sense to guide them on long journeys, like migrating birds, and caribou on their annual trek to the Arctic. Dogs are the descendants of a pack animal which ranged across long distances, so it would make sense if they had some of this homing ability.
However, suggesting that they use it to line themselves up when they poop is certainly a novel conclusion. Such was the result of a paper recently published by a team of Czech and German researchers who sampled hundreds of dogs performing several thousand actions. The dogs were categorized by breed and gender, and their pooping orientation analyzed.
One way in which this research went farther than past studies is that the researchers measured the strength of the magnetic field at the time of the observation. This was reportedly done to counteract the effect of magnetic field scattering, a common issue especially in urban areas. It's the researchers contention that MF scattering is the answer as to why previous studies have not found a correlation between dog behavior and magnetic north.
This is an interesting hypothesis, and a reasonable assumption. However, it also leads to the possibility that selection bias could be taking place, if the researchers are throwing out some data.
This would be a great study for kids to replicate as a science project!