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Watch: Dalmatian puppy spots himself in mirror and his reaction is pure gold

An owner captured the moment when her puppy appeared to recognise his own reflection. But scientists are still unsure if dogs really understand what they see in the mirror.

By Ashley Murphy

Published on the 07/11/2020, 21:00, Updated on the 08/02/2021, 13:24

The short video, posted on Youtube last month, shows a Dalmatian puppy playing in his dog mum's bedroom. There's some frolicking, lots of scamping, and a few adorable puppy dog eye moments. In other words, it's exactly what you'd expect to see in a puppy play session.

But things take a different turn when the young pup spots his own reflection in a large mirror across the back wall. The pooch freezes then jumps up onto his paws to take a close look at the familiar shape staring back at him. It's as if he's thinking, "who's that handsome boy with all those gorgeous spots. Is it me?"

Who's that handsome boy?

He then performs a few experiments to see if his suspicions are correct. And by experiments, we mean jumping about like a goofball to see if that 'other' dog copies him - which it does. He then lets out a little yelp, as if he's saying, "yep, that really is me!"

At first glance, it would appear this young pup has achieved what psychologists call the "mirror stage." Coined by French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, the mirror stage is the moment when an infant recognises themselves as an object separate from the world around them. In humans, it can happen anywhere between 6-18 months of age.

The "mirror stage"

Studies have found evidence of the mirror stage in baby dolphins, elephants, chimpanzees, and magpies. However, there's still no proof that canines have reached this complex state of being.

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So, for now at least, it looks like our dogs' philosophical musings are limited to something much more straightforward - I sniff, therefore I am!