For most dog owners, the answer to this question is a resounding YES! Clearly, your dog thinks of himself as a distinct “being.”
But the question of self-awareness is much harder to test. After all, you can’t ask the dog.
For years, the standard test of self-awareness has been the mirror test. The animal is shown a mirror. Typically, the researcher will first put a spot of paint on the animal’s face. If the animal looks in the mirror and then attempts to remove the paint, it is clear that he recognizes “himself.”
Elephants, chimpanzees, dolphins, and even magpies have passed the mirror tests… but dogs do not. It’s possible that a mirror isn’t a valid test for dog, since dogs rely much more on scent than on sight. Or perhaps dogs just don’t care if there’s a spot of paint on their face!
Recently, researchers have begun to question both the methodology and the conclusions of the mirror test, and to find different ways to understand and discuss the question of self-awareness. But whatever the researchers find, dog lovers are likely to draw their own conclusions!
What Does Your Dog See When He Looks in a Mirror? Science of Us. May 23, 2016.