Ever get that feeling you’re being watched? Well, if you’re a dog-owner, you may have a point. Dogs are able to watch people’s interactions with one another to determine who holds yummier treats, according to a new study.
This study joins others that show dogs are keen observers of human behaviors and emotions. It offers evidence dogs use information not only from people’s direct interactions with them, but also their interactions with one another, a notion that’s more controversial.
In the study, dogs watched a man ask two women for some of their cornflakes. Both women gave the man cornflakes when he asked, but in response to one woman, the man enthused about how delicious the cornflakes were. In response to the other woman, he gave the cornflakes back and called them gross (in Spanish; the study was conducted in Argentina). After these interactions, the man left and an assistant holding the dog let the dog go. While many dogs didn’t approach either cornflake-munching woman, the dogs that did have a preference tended to prefer the woman with the yummier cereal.