Dogs might not be able to see themselves in a mirror, but they still have some level of self-awareness.

Recent research shows that dogs can smell their own odors, like looking in a mirror, and a study found they might also have some awareness of their body as an obstacle.

Body awareness is the ability to think of your body as an object in relation to other objects around you. It is one of the most important building blocks of self-representation.

If a child can figure out that they have to get up and remove their body as an obstacle, they are now declared as self-awareness.

It usually takes infants until 18 months or a year before they can figure it out.

Researchers have tried to see if the canines also possess such a level of body awareness.

The first research to show that the body is an obstacle in the world is a paper from 2021.

32 dogs of various breeds and sizes met the testing requirements, which involved the pets picking up a toy and bringing it to their owner. The toy was connected to a mat that the dogs were sitting on.

The dog first needed to get off the mat to bring the toy to their owner.

The results were compared to what happens when the toy is not connected to the ground or if it is.

This way, when the dogs tried to pick the target up, this was again impossible, however, dogs did not feel a parallel lifting force under their feet.

The dogs did not step off the mat as quickly without this tug beneath them. When the dog felt a tug on the mat below them, they stepped off and picked up the toy. It was more than one sensation that was tipping the dogs off.

The pets didn't jump off the mat as quickly when the researcher tugged their feet using a rope, even though the toy was connected to the ground.

The pets in the study were able to differentiate between obstacles and success by instinctively moving their bodies.

The authors argue that the main test can be explained by the dogs' body awareness and understanding of the consequences of their actions.

More research is needed to understand the continuum of self-awareness that exists in the animal kingdom. There is very little research done on the awareness animals have of their body.

Elephants are one of the few animals that have gone through the same body as an obstacle. Asian elephants stepped off the mat much quicker when doing so was necessary for their success in a task.

The results are similar to what has been shown in dogs, but elephants can also see themselves in a mirror.

The mirror test is based on appearance, but the body as an obstacle test is about one's own actions and the physical properties of their bodies as an extension of that. Elephants have figured out how to recognize themselves. Dogs may only have one.

Although dogs did not pass the mirror mark test, we now have evidence that they can pass the body as an obstacle test.

Our results support self-representation as an array of more or less connected cognitive skills, and the presence or lack of a particular building block may vary according to the species.

The study has been published.

The first version of this article was published in February of 2021.