What a Dog’s Nose Can Tell a Dog’s Brain

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This fascinating article by Marc Bekoff Ph.D. of  Animal Emotions reveals some fascinating insights into self-recognition in dogs.  Most of the information comes from dog expert Alexandra Horowitz of Barnard College.

Alexandra was inspired by Bekoff’s previous “yellow snow” study 20 years back which you can read about here… “Hidden tales of yellow snow: What a dog’s nose knows – Making sense of scents“.   It adds mirrors to her tests.  

This experiment presents dogs with various canisters for approach and investigation. Each holds an odorous stimulus: in the critical test, either an “olfactory mirror” of the subject − the dog’s own urine − or one in which the odour stimulus is modified. By looking at subjects’ investigation times of each canister, it is shown that dogs distinguish between the olfactory “image” of themselves when modified: investigating their own odour for longer when it had an additional odour accompanying it than when it did not. Such behaviour implies a recognition of the odour as being of or from ‘themselves.'”

She also delves into these subjects:

  • Why she did the study
  • How does it follow up on previous work in this area?
  • How do your methods differ from previous studies?
  • What are your major results and did they surprise you?
  • What do they tell us about dog behavior and how should your findings be used by people who share their lives with dogs?
  • What are some of your current and future projects?

Source:   Psychology Today


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