Turning preference in dogs: North attracts while south repels

ADÁMKOVÁ, Jana, BENEDIKTOVÁ, Kateřina, BARTOŠ, Luděk, VYNIKALOVÁ, Lucie, NOVÁKOVÁ, Petra, HART, Vlastimil, PAINTER, Michael S. a BURDA, Hynek. Turning preference in dogs: North attracts while south repels. PLoS One, 2021, roč. 16(1), s. e0245940. ISSN 1932-6203.
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It was shown earlier that dogs, when selecting between two dishes with snacks placed in front of them, left and right, prefer to turn either clockwise or counterclockwise or randomly in either direction. This preference (or non-preference) is individually consistent in all trials but it is biased in favor of north if they choose between dishes positioned north and east or north and west, a phenomenon denoted as “pull of the north”. Here, we replicated these experiments indoors, in magnetic coils, under natural magnetic field and under magnetic field shifted 90˚ clockwise. We demonstrate that „pull of the north“ was present also in an environment without any outdoor cues and that the magnetic (and not topographic) north exerted the effect. The detailed analysis shows that the phenomenon involves also „repulsion of the south“. The clockwise turning preference in the right-preferring dogs is more pronounced in the S-W combination, while the counterclockwise turning preference in the leftpreferring dogs is pronounced in the S-E combination. In this way, south-placed dishes are less frequently chosen than would be expected, while the north-placed dishes are apparently more preferred. Turning preference did not correlate with the motoric paw laterality (Kong test). Given that the choice of a dish is visually guided, we postulate that the turning preference was determined by the dominant eye, so that a dominant right eye resulted in clockwise, and a dominant left eye in counterclockwise turning. Assuming further that magnetoreception in canines is based on the radical-pair mechanism, a „conflict of interests“ may be expected, if the dominant eye guides turning away from north, yet the contralateral eye „sees the north“, which generally acts attractive, provoking body alignment along the north-south axis.

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