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Dogs Recognize Themselves in Test Based on Smell, Not Sight

JAMES GORMAN: ‘Scientists use mirrors to find out if animals recognize themselves, to see if they have some sense of self. Chimpanzees do very well on what is called the mirror test. A chimp will notice a mark on his face and perhaps even use the mirror to aid in removing it. He might use the mirror to examine parts of his body he can’t normally see, like the inside of his mouth. Researchers have reported that dolphins, one elephant and a magpie have also passed this test. Dogs have not, and that has raised questions about whether dogs might recognize themselves if another sense were tested… Alexandra Horowitz, a psychologist at Barnard College who studies the behavior of dogs and has written several books about them, decided to give dogs a chance at showing self-recognition on their own, smelly terms. In a recent study, she concludes that they do recognize the smell of their own urine… What that means, of course, is a matter for discussion. She says it shows that the dogs recognize their own scent, finding it less interesting unless it has been messed with. “I don’t think it’s precisely parallel to the mirror mark test,” Dr. Horowitz said. In an odor test, you can’t “use the mirror to restore what you think you should look like.” But, she said, her test and the mirror tests “all show that there’s this selective sensory investigation of something that comes from yourself, but is changed”.’ SOURCE…

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