Can Dogs Sense Magnetic Fields?

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Magnetic fields exist all around Earth even though we humans are not able to see or sense them. We know that animals, such as dogs, have incredible senses and can see and hear things we would never be able to. Therefore, it is not too big of a stretch to wonder if your dog can sense Earth's magnetic fields. Afterall, these magnetic fields must be pretty powerful, right? 

Although more research is needed to confirm the ability, many scientists and professionals do believe that dogs possess the ability to sense these invisible magnetic fields. We will explore just how they can detect this unique phenomenon below! 

Introduction of Can Dogs Sense Magnetic Fields?

Signs of a Dog Sensing Earth's Magnetic Field

Although you may not have noticed these very common signs, your dog shows their ability to sense magnetic fields probably every single day...pretty cool, right? One of the most obvious ways you can tell your dog might sense these magnetic fields is to watch their behavior when you take them outside to go potty. 

Although this may sound a bit strange, your dog runs around like crazy, sniffs everything, and paces around frantically when trying to find the perfect spot to poo and pee - and for a very specific reason. Your dog is able to take the position of the sun, the direction of the wind, and the time of day to determine the best spot to do their business. These actions all have to do with Earth's magnetic fields. 

For example, when the magnetic fields are calm, your dog will go potty facing the North or the South. You can note the direction with the compass on your phone if you want to confirm. If you find your dog is pacing around before going potty, sniffing the air and the ground, standing in the direction of the wind, or simply acting like they are trying to find something unknown, it is because they are using and sensing the magnetic fields of Earth!

Body Language

These are some signs you may notice when your dog senses Earth's magnetic field:
  • Staring
  • Alert
  • Head tilting
  • Pacing
  • Sniffing
  • Ears up
  • Spinning
  • Urine sprinkling

Other Signs

Here are some other signs you might notice when your dog senses Earth's magnetic field:
  • Having trouble finding the right spot to go potty
  • Spinning in circles before going potty
  • Pacing around frantically before they go potty
  • Going potty into the wind

History of Dogs Sensing Earth's Magnetic Field

History of Can Dogs Sense Magnetic Fields?

For many years, we have known that animals and dogs have incredible senses. We have also been aware that animals like birds and bats can navigate the Earth effectively due to their ability to use Earth's magnetic fields like a GPS. The ability to navigate the Earth in this way is called "magnetoreception". 

Until recently, this phenomenon has only been studied in primates and other mammals. However, studies are now beginning to look at other animals, like dogs, and we believe that dogs indeed have a similar talent for sensing these magnetic fields as well. Although a dog can detect them, they cannot sense them as sharply and precisely as birds and bats can. 

We see this in action in dogs not just when they go to the potty, but also when a dog runs away from home and gets lost. There are many stories of dogs being miles and miles away from their homes, and they can make it back home to their owner. For many years, it has been a mystery about how a dog can do this, but we now know it is due to their ability to sense magnetic fields. In essence, the dog can sense which direction they are going, and they know what direction home is, hence their ability to make it home from hundreds of miles away. 

Science Behind Dogs Sensing Earth's Magnetic Field

Science of Can Dogs Sense Magnetic Fields?

By now, you may wonder how your dog can sense Earth's magnetic fields. The answer lies in a unique molecule found in your dog's eye. It is called the cryptochrome, which is a particular molecule that is super-sensitive to light. We see the molecule in other animals, plants, and certain bacteria. Cryptochrome molecules play a significant role in your dog's circadian functions, and the 1a feature is the element found in birds that give them their sharp and precise ability to sense and see magnetic fields. 

Based upon research, we have found that dogs also have this unique 1a feature and this is what gives dogs their ability to sense and see Earth's magnetic fields. It allows them to navigate and orient themselves in any location they are in, familiar or not. 

Cryptochrome 1a is located in the retina of your dog's eye, and it directly correlates with their sight as well. What is interesting is the fact that activation by Earth's magnetic fields triggers this molecule. This reaction involves a lot of quantum mechanics and complicated scientific material, but these are the most important basics! 

Training Dogs to Sense Earth's Magnetic Fields

Training of Can Dogs Sense Magnetic Fields?

The good news is you do not have to train your dog to sense magnetic fields around the Earth. They can detect this phenomenon all on their own and don't require your guidance. Since we cannot sense it ourselves, we would not be much help to them anyway. 

In reality, your dog likely doesn't even realize they are detecting anything special and probably thinks you can as well. It is an ability they have had their whole life, and they are used to it. Just as we are used to the specific skills we have, your dog feels the same way.

When you are trying to get them to go potty and they are taking forever, you begin to gently yank your dog around a bit and rush them to complete their business. Your dog probably has no clue why you are rushing them so much. All your dog is focused on is finding the proper place to do their poo and pee. This is a process for your dog. 

Remember, they have to consider the direction of the wind, the position of the sun, and if the magnetic fields are calm or going haywire, that is a lot of pressure and responsibility, so give them some time. 

How to React if Your Dog Senses the Earth's Magnetic Field:

  • Let them go potty on their own time.
  • Observe this amazing behavior.
  • Don't yank them around!