Forget The Mirror Test! Recent Studies Prove That Dogs Have Self-Awareness - A Dog's Love

Forget The Mirror Test! Recent Studies Prove That Dogs Have Self-Awareness

Do animals have self-awareness? That is precisely the question psychologist Gordon Gallup Jr had in mind when he invented the Mirror Self-Recognition Test in 1970. Guess what! Dogs failed.

But does that mean that dogs don’t have a sense of self? No. According to primatologist Frans de Waal who wrote the book, ‘Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are’ self-awareness transcends a simple mirror test. “I cannot imagine that a cat or a dog — even though they don’t recognize themselves in the mirror — I find it hard to imagine that they have no awareness of themselves,” Frans de Waal is quoted telling the NY Mag.

As a result, we have had other researchers come up with new methods to test self-awareness. For instance, cognitive researcher Marc Bekoff came up with the Yellow Snow Study in which he used his dog, Jethro as the test subject. Over the course of five winters, Bekoff took the pee-stained snow from the ground where his dog urinated and dumped it at another place together with snow stained with other dogs’ pee.

He observed that Jethro took less time sniffing his own pee-stained snow and even went on to urinate over the snow with other dogs’ pee. “In the end, what does this all mean in regards to a dog’s sense of self?” Bekoff said. “That our canine friends could have a sense of mine-ness and this sense of body-ness but it’s just not as complex as human’s sense of self”

The researcher’s conclusions were further confirmed by canine cognition specialist Alexandra Horowitz in a lab experiment using 36 dogs. In her test, she even added another scent to the dog’s own urine to make it harder to detect. However, she was also a little cautious about classifying her study as a self-awareness test. “I don’t think it’s a self-awareness test, exactly. But it does say something about identity,” Horowitz told the Science of Us.

Feature Image Source: Pixabay

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