Dishabituation to the mirror in domestic dogs: a pilot study
- Dog, mirror, habituation, dishabituation, self-recognition, olfaction
It is well-known that domestic dogs have not passed the mirror self-recognition test. Therefore, to investigate the self-awareness of this species, different kind of test is needed. The role of habituation/dishabituation process and the possible predilection in using olfaction are the two main “hidden” variables in designing cognitive studies in dogs. Therefore, the aim of this study was to assess the influence of dishabituation and olfaction in a combined stimuli behavioral test. Nine dogs were tested in two different settings: the glass setting (GS) and the mirror setting (MS), during the GS dogs were facing a glass and during the MS they were facing a mirror. Each setting was divided into two phases of 3 minutes: one in the presence of a second dog behind the glass (GS+) or the mirror (MS+), and one in the absence of the second dog behind the glass (GS-) or the mirror (MS-). The difference between MS- and GS+ relative duration of the glass/mirror-oriented gaze was statically significant (p=0.012). This combined multimodal approach could help to clarify the role of habituation/dishabituation process in testing self-recognition in dogs.