The dogs both whine the time is right—
I pull on boots and lace them tight,
I grab the leash, and day or night
It’s off we troop!
Two hopeful spots are both declined—
My dogs must have a place in mind;
The search goes on until they find
Where they will poop.
The perfect place (at last!) is found,
But now they pace the snow or ground
And circle, circle, round and round
And back and forth.
It’s not enough, the perfect place,
There’s one bit more they need to chase:
But now I know—they want to face
Now, dogs are so intimately intertwined with humans that it is difficult to find dog behavior that does not have the danger of human interference (explicit training or accidental conditioning). But when dogs gotta go, they gotta go.
Right now, the link is not working for me, so I can’t quote from the article, but the bottom line is that, on days of calm magnetic fields, dogs tend to align themselves, north-south, with the earth’s magnetic field (they also tend to avoid east-west alignment); when the magnetic field is in flux (which it often is), there is no such tendency, and alignment is pretty much random.
Once the link is working, you’ll also be able to see one of the best illustrations ever used in a scientific paper… (this one is so nice, I took a screen grab before the site went down for me):