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Can dogs see their own reflection in a mirror?

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Can dogs see their own reflection in a mirror?
  • Can dogs see their own reflection in a mirror? This is a question I've heard many times in my life. I've had several dogs over the years and I believe they CAN see their own reflection. I watched Monkey Dog lay on a pillow and actually reach for the "other dog" she could see in the mirrored closet doors in one room of my house. Whether or not she knew it was herself she was seeing, not sure. But I think she did. I took a picture of it real quick and have put it in the photos on this site, or it's on my profile page if you want to see. She layed there reaching long enough to doze off. Sweetest thing I ever saw!

    So I'd love ya'lls opinion about dogs being able to see themselves in reflections. And if they know they are looking at themselves.

  • of course they can see it. the question is, do they think it's another dog? that i think might depend on the individual dog. i've seen videos of dogs barking their heads off at their mirrored image. but i also know some that completely ignore it. i think it has to do with the fact that dogs do actually not heavily rely on sight. smell and hearing is more important to them, so i think that's why some ignore it...

    i'm actually quite curious about what my two will think. i have my eyes on an apartment and if it works out, i will have a full length mirror and will be able to see what they make of it...

  • janetmichel3009
    i think it has to do with the fact that dogs do actually not heavily rely on sight. smell and hearing is more important to them, so i think that's why some ignore it...

    I think you're right. I have huge mirrored doors to my walk-in closet and Sassy just walks right by. She might do a quick glance, but I think it's more about seeing something (herself) moving by.

  • I think they can see their reflections but I don't think they have a clue that it's actually  themselves they're seeing. It's sort of like a really little kid waving to the baby in the mirror.

    Joyce

  • Dogs don't have the concept of self recognition.  They see the image but don't relate it to themselves and so most ignore the image as it is meaningless to them.  The reason some dogs react to dogs on the TV has to do with the movement and sound.

  • now wait a minute, SELF recognition and just recognition is a difference!

    of course they dont get that they are seing themselves... but do they see it as another dog at all??

  • of course they dont get that they are seing themselves... but do they see it as another dog at all??

    I don't think this "self recognition" test is valid. Dogs rely on their noses much more so than their eyesight and well, if mirror doesn't smell like dog they generally don't care what it looks like. That said, I've had dogs bark at the sudden appearance of a dog reflection, and watch animals on TV with great fascination.

  • mudpuppy

    of course they dont get that they are seing themselves... but do they see it as another dog at all??

    I don't think this "self recognition" test is valid. Dogs rely on their noses much more so than their eyesight and well, if mirror doesn't smell like dog they generally don't care what it looks like. That said, I've had dogs bark at the sudden appearance of a dog reflection, and watch animals on TV with great fascination.

    what test? did you read my previous post? i said exactly what you said.

    i HAVE seen dogs that react to their reflection as if it were another dog.... but what i wanted to say is that that has nothing to do with SELF recognition....

    there were studies done with chimps and bonobos and the older chimps would recognize THEMSELVES in the mirror. they would look at their faces from different angles and use it to pick their teeth... that is SELF recognition...

    then they did the same thing with some smaller monkeys (dont remember which species...) and they just went ballistic trying to "attack" the "other" monkey. thats recognition...

    so, yeah, for dogs the issue is different, since vision ISNT their primary sense... but then, some DO aparently recognize another dog in the mirror...

  • I understand your distinction between SELF recognition and do they recognize that they are seeing another dog. 

     I always do this with a new puppy or dog and I don't know why it's just something I do.  I take the dog to a full length mirror and see how they react.  Almost all seem to react as though they recognize the shape as a dog and some have barked at the reflection and some have even walked around the door looking for the dog.  It never takes long for them to lose interest

      As I said in my first response, since some seemed to have missed it, they react, IMO, to the TV because of the movement and sound.

  • Very interesting question, Rocky as a puppy used to get really excited by the doggie in the mirror.  I have a full length one next to the table I sit at in the morning to put on my makeup.   I am not sure if it is his reflection or mine that he was watching.  He doesnt seem to care much one way or another now that he is older.  However; Hot Shot could care less about the mirror but will watch TV anytime there is a dog on it.  Usually the dog is making noise although some dog noises dont seem to interest him, just certain ones.  Also he will get very excited about some dogs and not about others???  He really enjoyed Doggy 101 but only certain dogs seemed to perk his ears. Rocky doesnt pay any attention to the TV

  • My dog(a bulldog) always gets defensive when she sees her reflection, snarling and facing off, but never attacks and usually gets bored and walks away after a few minutes.  Funny, she never gets that way toward other dogs we meet, and is always friendly.  They can definately see the reflection, but my dog doesn't realize it is her, she sees it as another dog.  I don't know if dogs' brains function in a way that would rationalize to them that it is their own reflection, they don't understand how mirrors work, and good luck explaining it to them.

  • i have a ton of videos of bailey trying to get herself in the mirror! funny stuff.... ill post!

  • For the curious: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirror_test 

    Once or twice Rascal has really started at the "strange" dog in the mirror. Once he actually stood there growling and posturing at the offending dog (who had the nerve to growl and posture back!) for, I kid you not, over 5 solid minutes. Typically, though, he ignores it. An interesting point is if I am addressing him via a mirror (like if I'm facing the mirror and he's standing behind me, and I talk to and look at his reflection in the mirror) he looks at my face's reflection in the mirror, not at my body. 

  •  It's really funny this should come upp now because Lu yesterday did something I have NEVER seen a dog do.  She was sitting there looking at herself in the mirror - which I've seen many dogs do.  I think most dogs think it's a dog that is oddly inaccessible to them, behind the glass.  They are all familiar with windows.

    But Lu caught my attention because she seemed to be experimenting with lowering or raising her head, turning, opening her mouth and closing it.

    Then she looked at me in the mirror because I couldn't help making some amused sounds.  She looked for a while, then turned around and looked towards where I should have been - but where I was standing I was only visible to her in the mirror.  She then turned back and used the mirror to keep looking at me.  At the same time she kept her ears turned back towards me, but she reacted to the reflection.

    I live with a giant, very scary smart dog.  I'm glad she's on OUR side.  At least I'm pretty sure she's on our side.  LOL 

  • http://www.americanscientist.org/issues/pub/the-soul-of-the-ape

    For the even more curious.  This article discusses the difference between self recognition and self awareness.