I once read that dogs spin around in a circle before pooping because they are trying to align with the earth’s magnetic field.
I’ve thought about this every time I’ve reached for that poop bag for years, but I’m still confused about it. Especially because, while Matilda almost always spins, the cow never spins. She suddenly started squatting to poop, as if she was completely unprepared for this.
Why does only one of my dogs have a magnetic butt? What’s the point? Why is there research in this area?
What exactly is a magnetic field?
The core of the earth is liquid iron, which produces a magnetic field. The magnetic fields at the north and south poles are opposite.
As the molten iron core rotates and moves, Earth’s magnetic field changes throughout the day and year.
How do other animals use Earth’s magnetic field?
It guides migratory animals such as birds, turtles, fish and whales, allowing them to instinctively know when and where to fly, crawl or swim as the seasons change.
So it makes sense that our dogs might also be sensitive to the Earth’s magnetic field.
There’s even some evidence that humans can sense magnetic fields, and we may have used these abilities to decide where to settle hundreds of thousands of years ago, long before the job market, Zillow, and school districts.
But why do you poop?
Famous research published in 2014 by the Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague showed that dogs align themselves with the north-south magnetic field when defecating, especially during “quiet magnetic fields.” It turns out that the magnetic field is only stable for about 20% of the day, and if the MF is unstable, the dog will not align itself before pooping.
It is speculated that dogs avoid the east-west alignment when defecating to avoid sunlight hitting their eyes, or simply because standing north-south feels good to them.
I still have questions
Does the dog turn clockwise or counterclockwise? This is something to think about.
The original study was conducted in the Czech Republic, which like the United States is located in the Northern Hemisphere. Do Australian dogs position themselves differently? They’re closer to the South Pole, but other than that, I guess there’s no reason to think their poop is any different.
Why don’t cows care about magnetic poop? Overall, Cow is a more nervous dog than Matilda, so like the dog in the dog park version of the experiment, maybe she was too distracted to wait in line to poop.
What about magnetic therapy? Have you ever heard of those alternative medicine magnetic bracelets that can cure illnesses? Magnets are believed to promote healing and reduce pain, but the evidence is unreliable and anecdotal. If it does work, would it be more effective for dogs like Matilda who are more sensitive to magnetic fields, or is it just whining?