Why Do Puppies Bark At Their Reflection?

September 1, 2020

What do puppies see when they look in the mirror?

Most will see a playmate, while some others view the reflection as a canine intruder. One thing dogs will never understand is that they are looking at THEIR OWN reflection. Their brains are not wired the same way human brains are, meaning unlike us, dogs lack a sense of self.

This behavior is cute at first, but grows old fast. The good news is that your puppy will eventually lose interest in his reflection once he realizes the interaction doesn’t lead to play.  At that point, he will no longer waste energy on the reflection and it will simply become part of the background that he ignores. This is known as habituation.

What is habituation? It is a simple form of learning where after a period of time that an animal is exposed to a stimulus, the animal stops responding. “Sensory systems may stop sending signals to the brain in response to a continuously present or often-repeated stimulus (Cohen et al. 1997).

Until your puppy loses interest, the leave-it command will teach him to stop reacting. 


Katie McKnight


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