People begin to become aware of their body from early childhood and especially from the age of 18 months or just before they begin to understand their surroundings. But what about animals and especially dogs?
Dogs do not recognize their reflection in the mirror and recognize their individual smell very well.
Did you know that dogs cannot see each other in the mirror? However, research has shown that they get to know each other differently. If you don’t recognize your own reflection in the mirror, you know your own smell very well as it is your own and therefore more unique. According to scientists, it would be a kind of “odor mirror”. But are dogs also aware of their bodies?
According to ScienceAlert, the researchers managed to answer that question through a study they conducted in 2019. As part of this study, the researchers selected 32 dogs of different sizes and breeds that had passed a test. The latter should just take a toy and bring it to their master.
The study, for its part, added a difficulty to this test. In fact, the researchers had placed the toy under a rug that the dogs were sitting on. In order to pick up the toy and bring it to its owner, the dogs first had to get off the mat.
Dogs can understand when their bodies are in the way of action
The authors stated that the dogs tried to pick up the toy first, but found that they could not. But when they felt a pull on the carpet below them, they quickly jumped off the carpet to pick up the toy. According to scientists, this suggests that dogs understand the difference between “there is an obstacle” and “my body is the obstacle”. The researchers also claim that once they figured this out, dogs moved instinctively.
Dogs can understand when their bodies are in the way of action. Photo credit: Shutterstock / Bimka
The scientists stated in their study, published in Scientific Reports, that “dogs’ response to the main test can be explained by their body awareness and understanding of the consequences of their own actions.”
Elephants have passed both scientists’ self-esteem tests
However, it should not be believed that dogs are the only animals endowed with this form of self-awareness. Although little research has been done on the subject to date, researchers have conducted similar tests on Asian elephants. In addition to giving them the mirror test, they also gave them the body awareness test and it turned out that the elephants passed both tests.
When dogs fail the mirror test, there is evidence that they are endowed with body awareness. Photo credit: Shutterstock / Fotoproyo
The researchers believe that even though dogs failed the mirror test, there are indications that they are endowed with body awareness. Regarding the elephant tests, they add that “our results support self-expression as a set of more or less interrelated cognitive abilities and the presence or absence of a building block may vary between species”.