Because it’s grounded
Dr. Dodman has noticed that many dogs that are afraid of thunderstorms seek shelter in bathrooms squeezing themselves behind the toilet or getting into the bathtub or shower stall. He believes this is because plumbing fixtures are grounded into the earth that this must afford the dog relief from the electrostatic vibe of thunder and lightning. I very much like his theory.
At the moment of making contact with anything there is the issue of dealing with a virtual electrostatic shock, quite like walking across a carpeted floor on a cold winter’s day and bracing yourself for touching the metal switch plate. This is because electromagnetism is the organizing principle by which simple behavior becomes complex behavior even though the animal doesn’t actually feel a real form of electricity or magnetism. (For example, we often think of nerve transmission when we move our fingers as if there’s a current of electricity running from our brain to our hand. But there actually isn’t. Rather there’s an action potential wending its way very, very fast, through a series of electro-chemical collapses or synaptic exchanges between neurons. The nerve impulse is a virtual electrical current.) As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, the balance circuitry of the Big-Brain contributes the electrical component; the hunger circuitry invoking the little-brain contributes the magnetic component. Any perception of change displaces the individual’s sense of equilibrium and creates a “void” in the little-brain-in-the-gut given that it is aroused, but has nothing yet to churn up. So in order to make contact with another being so that magnetic alignment can take place, first the issue of “electrical grounding” has to transpire, the electrostatic energy of the Big-Brain has to be converted into smooth muscle wave action of the little-brain.
In my model of behavior, the primary function of the Big-Brain-in-the-head is to generate intensity as sheer energy, a generator of a virtual static electricity. I say it’s virtual because this “force” is attributed to anything an animal is attracted to (and before it makes contact) and if that animal can reflect the energy back at the “projector” (primarily by eye contact) the force increases. If there was a real force, then it wouldn’t be variable depending on what each individual in an interaction is doing. This pressure serves as a bubble that becomes an animals’ sense of its social space, flight distances and so on. This degree of pressure within this bubble between the animal and whatever it is attracted, to becomes its sense of safety, for example a prey keeping its eye on a predator and how near it will allow it to be. (This intensity of the pressure also triggers physical memories of grounding with its peers and can thus serve as a sense of connection. You can think here of the proverbial Velcro dog following its owner everywhere in the house because it equates losing direct physical contact with the owner with an actual popping of that bubble.) The prey observing a predator has no comprehension of a threat; rather it’s a ratio of how much pressure the prey can take relative to how much pressure it needs to feel safe. If the predator comes too near, the bubble pops and the prey flees whereas if the predator goes out of sight, the prey becomes anxious because it now feels a void.
Dealing with this virtual electrostatics is why dogs use their front paws to initiate contact when they’re tentative because if they were in fact dealing with an actual electrical shock that would hurt their wet, sensitive nose far more than their dry, rough paw. So first they make contact with their paws to secure a ground, and then they follow through and rub up against something to put more energy into that ground.
When a dog approaches a bowl of water, because the water is shiny and reflective and contained within a form, it is perceived as a complex being with a predatory aspect that reflects the energy the dog projected into it back at it. The surface tension of the standing water is thereby perceived by the dog as an electrostatic membrane and it is inhibited from making contact. So if you watch dogs closely you’ll see them brace themselves, wince almost imperceptibly when they break the surface of the water with their nose and then begin drinking. My cats on the other hand used to first paw the water in the bowl to get it moving and only then would the cat break the surface plane with its nose to begin lapping up the water.
Because I do believe animals can feel the movement of electrical currents even though they go primarily by these virtual fields and currents, this electrostatic problem with a relative inert bowl of standing water they can completely bypass by going to the toilet bowl because as Dr. Dodman notes, it is indeed physically grounded. So dogs don’t register the surface tension as a predatory aspect and go by balance, rather they feel a magnetic pull and go by hunger.