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Dogs Have Conscience, And Self-Awareness

Update Date: Dec 15, 2015 04:12 PM EST
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Did you know that your dog has a conscience, and a self-awareness too, like lots of other animals?

Scientists used the 'mirror test' to check if the dog showed a sense of consciousness or not. An individual's ability to check out his reflection, identify and touch a mark---almost always a red dot on the face, head or other parts of the body---is the "mirror test", according to the study.

Any subject understanding the concepts of "self" and "the other" can differentiate between both identities.

However, dogs do not look at the mirror, but "sniff or urinate around it". Earlier, scientists were not able to check out the self-recognition of these animals.

Hence, the "sniff test of self-recognition (STSR)," seemed to be more useful to locate the consciousness of dogs. They seemed to act on the stimuli of smells rather than sight. The researcher showed that even when it was applied to a number of individuals in groups, of varying ages and sexes, it gave good evidence of self-awareness in dogs. It could also play a crucial role to show that self-consciousness is not specific to dogs but to great apes, humans, and some other animals too.

Hence, scientists collected urine from four dogs and then gave them all the sniff test to check their self-recognition through smell, instead of through the mirror test. They found that the dogs seemed to be more interested in the urine of other dogs, not their own, which showed a level of self-awareness.

The findings are published in the journal Ethology, Ecology and Evolution.

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