Skip to main content

Rescue dog sees a mirror for the first time and hilarity ensues

It’s safe to say that nearly everyone has been startled or taken aback by their own reflection, only to realize oh yeah, that’s me just milliseconds later. In a now-viral Reddit video, user Mordessus tries to give his rescue dog the same experience, and the dog can’t seem to grasp the concept of mirrors. When this rescue dog sees the mirror, equal amounts of cuteness and hilarity ensue.

Aside from clever jokes and sweet comments from other Reddit users, many have begun to ask whether dogs can see themselves in mirrors. And if they can, do pups understand what—or who—they’re seeing in the reflection? While we may have to wait for an answer backed by science, researchers are busy testing hypotheses.

We rescued a TM a little while back and those first months in an outdoor kennel did not prepare him for mirrors. from AnimalsBeingDerps

Mirror, mirror on the wall

In a 26-second video posted on Reddit’s “r/AnimalsBeingDerps” page, his caring human dad talks a Tibetan mastiff through the dog’s first encounter with a mirror. The big floofer, whose dad calls him “Bruiser” in the video, can be seen standing inches from a full-length mirror, barking at his own reflection.

“That’s you,” his dad soothingly explains between the mastiff’s barks—or boofs, if you will. “You’re barking at you.”

The adorable pup breaks eye contact with his reflection to look at his dad in the mirror while appearing to listen. Then, another little boof. Bruiser watches his dad’s finger point from dog to mirror—trying to show him how reflections work—but it’s not certain whether or not Bruiser gets it. That’s okay, Bruiser! You’re perfect exactly as you are.

“He’s doing a motivational self-talk and you’re interrupting him,” user Sillyist joked. Several others interpreted Bruiser’s expression as pure confusion, with PoundApprehensive868 saying, “Look at him wondering why his human has multiplied into 2 humans.” Yeah, we’d be confused if that happened, too.

A West Highland White Terrier looks at the camera through a mirror

Can dogs see themselves in mirrors?

Many users were quick to notice the video’s accompanying text: “We rescued a [Tibetan Mastiff] a little while back and those first months in an outdoor kennel did not prepare him for mirrors.” Several commenters can relate, citing experiences with their own pets and the mixed signals around reflections.

“My dog looks at himself in the mirror all the [time],” explains  No_Butterscotch_9149. “[…] and sometimes [he comes] down and he’s at a sit position staring at [himself]. Especially after a hair cut lol.” Sounds like Bruiser needs to learn from this dog!

Redditor DoctorCrocker spurred discussion with a comment about the mirror self-recognition (MSR) test, which scientists use to examine animals’ self-awareness. To perform this test, an animal is anesthetized and marked with paint on a part of their body that’s visible only in a reflection. When they wake, they’re given a mirror. If they take interest in the mark on their body by appearing to notice it in the mirror, they’ve passed the MSR test.

It’s impossible not to take note of how few species have passed the test—dogs, for example, are missing from the list. Of course, that’s not to say that pups don’t see or react to their reflections, but they don’t necessarily recognize the image as themselves.

That said, Bruiser might have more than one adventure with mirrors! He’ll likely become used to them in time, whether or not he entirely gets it, but his human dad may have a tricky time teaching him to understand that he’s barking at himself. Don’t worry, Bruiser, you’ll figure out mirrors in your own way. Good boy!

Editors' Recommendations

Topics
Gabrielle LaFrank
Gabrielle LaFrank has written for sites such as Psych2Go, Elite Daily, and, currently, PawTracks. When she's not writing, you…
5 interesting things you might not know about the golden retriever
Did you know these things about goldens?
A small golden puppy runs across a yard

Which breed frequently trends on social, holds a place as one of America's favorite pets, and often earns the title of therapy dog? If you guessed golden retriever, you would be correct. We all can picture this loyal and lovable face and have hopefully met a sweet golden at some point or another.

While everyone has some idea of what they look and act like, if you want to become a golden retriever expert, you need to understand these fun facts. Here are five things you should know about golden retrievers (especially if you want to adopt one).

Read more
How many hours a day do dogs sleep? It depends on their age and breed
Ever wondered how much your dog should sleep? Here's what to know
Golden retriever sleeping in bed with owner

There are a few things dogs all have in common, but most importantly, they love to snooze. Every dog's sleep schedule is different, though. Some seem to be asleep all the time, while others are ready to go at the crack of dawn for a morning walk. Because of all these differences, it can be tricky to determine how much sleep is the right amount for your beastie, or if your dog might be lying around too much. And should you be concerned that he's napping more because he's sick or bored?

There are lots of questions -- we know -- so we're here to help you solve them all. You'll learn the answer to, "How many hours a day dogs sleep?" and more. Don't stress -- we'll help you figure it out!

Read more
Velcro dogs: The pets most likely to become mini stalkers (and what to do about it)
Some pups can't get enough of their humans and follow them everywhere earning them the title velcro dogs
Chihuahua cocks his head while lying on the carpet

One of the best things about pets is they love us unconditionally: They jump for happiness when we get home, dutifully stand by our side no matter what, and beg for our attention even when we're in our PJs with unkempt hair. Velcro dogs take this to the next level. These pups stick to their humans like glue, or well, velcro. They can't get enough of their people and follow them around, even into the bathroom.
While this behavior can be common in many pets when they're young, right after being adopted, or immediately following a long separation, velcro dog breeds never seem to grow out of the tendency. Just about any beastie can wind up fitting into this category, but some types of dogs are more prone to it than others.

What makes a pup a velcro dog?
The truth is, there's no surefire way to tell if one animal will wind up being clingier than the next. However, there are some clues you can look to and make an educated guess. Essentially, all puppies go through this phase at one time or another, but that doesn't necessarily indicate they'll turn into a velcro pooch as an adult. Additionally, many, or even most, dogs will also follow you more when they first meet you or after a big life event, like a move. However, a true clinger won't ever let go, staying right underfoot all day for their whole life.

Read more