If you look into a mirror and see your reflection, you know that it is you. Humans use mirrors to do their hair, fix their makeup, and make sure their outfit looks good. But have you ever put a dog in front of a mirror? The dog will most likely bark at its own reflection, thinking that it is another dog. They do not understand that the dog looking back at them is in fact themselves.
A man named Mark Bekoff, a biologist from The University of Colorado, thinks that just because dogs aren’t able to recognize their own reflection, doesn’t mean that they aren’t self aware. Noting that a dogs strongest sense is smell and not sight. He did an experiment where he would take his dog for a walk in the winter (the experiment lasted 5 winters) and during his walks, he would scoop up his dogs pee, and later place it near the dog to see his reaction. What he found was that the dog spent much less time re-sniffing his own pee, than the time spent sniffing and peeing over another dogs pee. This suggests that the dog recognized his own smell and knew that it was his own “yellow snow”.
This experiment was different than others performed, which involved mirrors and animals, because it used another sense other than sight. Mark Bekoff used a different approach to see if a dog was able to recognize himself.
I think that this experiment is a good start to test the self awareness in dogs but it is not clear evidence as to whether they actually are self aware or not. Testing senses other than sight is also a good idea because like Bekoff said, a dogs sight is not its strongest sense and so it might not be the best way to test the dog.