Saturday, May 14, 2016

The Corner Table

Bonnie the rescue chihuahua was apparently nervous in her new home, and needed some canine reassurance:

Dog behaviorists were surprised to see this, because the standard suggestion is to keep dogs apart at mealtimes. This is especially important if the dogs don’t know each other well, because some dogs are protective about their dinner. It’s unlikely that a new addition to a family would seek the company of a strange dog whilst in a particularly vulnerable situation. 

What’s going on, then? I suspect it’s not loneliness so much as anxiety about the location of the food dish. Bonnie has been put in a corner where there’s only one exit route - past whoever is holding the camera - and asked to put herself in a vulnerable position. It’s hard to check for danger when you’re nose-deep in kibble, after all.  It might be that the chihuahua doesn’t feel safe looking down at her food in a small, inescapable corner. 

Of course, it’s not impossible that the presence of the other dog - even though they’re probably not securely bonded yet - is reassuring for Bonnie. From a behavioral standpoint, however, the simplest explanation is that the little chi is trying to optimize her dining experience. Nobody wants a table way in the back of the restaurant. 

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