Have you ever held your dog up to a mirror and said, “Hey, that’s you!”
Most of the time, your dog will simply ignore his own reflection. If you own a puppy and they see their reflection for the first time, he might act differently. Most puppies tend to react to their own reflections, unlike older dogs who have had multiple encounters with mirrors.
Why is that?
Dogs Rely On Their Sense of Smell
Dogs don’t acknowledge their own reflections because they rely more on their sense of smell rather than their vision. They rely on their noses to recognize things around them. And because the mirror does not have their scent, they simply ignore it.
This was proven through a test conducted called the mirror self-recognition test. The test was created to study which animals have self-awareness. Dye is placed to leave an odorless mark on an animal’s body to see if the animal can recognize the mark in the mirror. Elephants, dolphins, and apes have all passed this test because they point towards the mark on their body when they see it in the mirror. Dogs have failed this test, even after multiple alterations of this test have been conducted.
Why Do Puppies React To Mirrors?
If dogs rely on their scent more than their vision, why then do puppies react to mirrors? This is because puppies are fascinated with what they see in the mirror. In fact, human babies aren’t able to recognize their own reflections until they are about 18-24 months old.
Over time, puppies get used to their reflection until they simply ignore it because it has no particular scent. Dogs are able to recognize themselves more through scent rather than vision. This is why dogs know which territories they have “marked” or not.
The next time your dog passes by a mirror at home and doesn’t pay attention, now you know why!