Ever notice how dogs tend to carry out a whole song and dance when going to the bathroom? They do their little twirls around a spot a fair few times before they settle and do their business. Meanwhile the owner is hovering around impatiently since time is of the essence! Why can’t canines get with our hectic busy lifestyles? Well Scientists may have finally found a reason behind a dogs strange toiletry behaviour. Strangely enough it is associated with the Earth’s axis and magnetic field! How did they come up with this?
A Czech study published in Frontiers in Zoology monitored 70 dogs from 37 breeds during their daily walks over a two year period. In total, 1,893 defecations and 5,582 urinations over a period of two years were recorded. How pleasant. The dogs in the study had their routine walk changed on a regular basis to prevent the dogs becoming too familiar to their surroundings and thus ‘doing their business’ in the same spot. The researchers results reveal that dogs prefer to be aligned with the N-S axis of the Earth instead of any other direction. Furthermore, canines were more likely to point their bodies in a westerly direction in the morning and then in the east in the afternoon. However, the scientists noted that dogs positioning towards the N-S axis is dependent on the stability of the Earth’s magnetic field. If the magnetic field became unstable, from solar flares for example, the dogs would discard the usual drill and go to the bathroom any which way they please.
Now we ponder… why does a dog prefer the N-S axis of the Earth when toileting? Scientists are still stumped on this. According to co-author Dr Sabine Begall, “We can only speculate. Since it is the polarity that has an effect on the alignment direction, it could be that the dogs somehow calibrate their compass or read their ‘mental map’ during the walks.” Reasonable enough justification but I believe the majority (including ourselves) are still waiting for further investigation into this matter.
All in all, we do appreciate these Scientists efforts at trying to figure out our dogs quirky behaviour when it comes to their toilet rituals. I guess our dogs just want to make entirely sure that they are indeed in alignment with the Earth’s N-S axis! It could be considered a load of bullocks but who knows… there may be a hint of truth to it.