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Just as migratory birds do, dogs may use magnetic fields to get around

A group of dogs in the open air dog-wow
© Pixabay

A new study looks into the possibility that dogs have a inbuilt ‘compass’ enabling them to use the Earth’s magnetic field to find their way from A to B.

By Nick Whittle

Published on the 20/07/2020, 21:00, Updated on the 08/02/2021, 13:26

There is much research devoted to the internal directional mechanisms of birds, whales and other migratory animals. As a consequence, we are beginning to understand how these animals travel thousands of miles across the globe to end up in the same places year after year.

Less is known about the same sort of mechanism possessed of a dog, and yet new research suggests they too have an in-built compass.

North to South poop

In 2013, Czech sensory ecologist Hynek Burda suggested a dog will align itself North to South when relieving itself. According to Burda, this orientation allowed the dog to piece together its territory.

This year a study carried out by Burda’s graduate student, Kateřina Benediktová suggests dogs also use the Earth’s magnetic field to get around.

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Over three years, Lohmann and other researchers discovered that dogs use magnetic fields to find their way and to double back on themselves.

Of a species that previously had travelled huge distances to populate various parts of the ancient world, such ability is no surprise. But of today's domesticated dogs the ability may have waned somewhat with their association with humans.