Y: Don, I've had my dog for years now, and I'm always stunned by how sloppy she can be at the water bowl. It's my biggest pet peeve, literally.
D: Well, I hear you there, Yael; dogs aren't quite as...graceful as we humans in that respect. But you might give your pooch more credit if you knew that her lapping method is the most effective one.
Y: "Effective" must be a relative term here because she splashes everywhere.
D: But keep in mind that dogs like all carnivorous mammals develop incomplete cheeks, which means they can't form a seal for suction to drink in the way omnivorous mammals do. Dog's stay hydrated by plunging their tongue deep into water and curving it backwards into a sort of ladle shape that retracts instantly.
Y: I'm sure with all the acceleration some of that water is sure to spill over. That's probably what causes the mess around the bowl.
D: But your dog's aim isn't really to scoop water in. What she accomplishes reaps bigger rewards. She curves her tongue backwards to expose the maximum surface area of the front side. She curls the back-facing side of the tongue to pull water upwards. Then, the tongue quickly retracts, and the acceleration against gravity creates a suspended water column. This was her goal. The force is so great that the water sticks directly to her tongue. And she clamps her mouth shut when the water column jets in, just before it collapses.
Y: So, she means to slosh the water because it's her way of getting a bigger gulp.
D: See, your pup's great at getting what she needs.