Dogs know when we’re paying attention to them—and when we’re looking the other way, a study suggests. Pairs of experimenters carrying treats stood equidistant from a dog and called out to it. One of the pair had her back to the dog, while the other faced it—and every canine tested, whether a domestic pup, a shelter dog, or a wolf, headed to the person looking at it, the New York Times reports.
“Turning your back—that’s a cue all the animals were sensitive to,” said a researcher. “Dogs don’t have to read our minds. Dogs read our behavior,” she added. “They are watching us,” and “whether we know it or not, we are training them.” That means consistency is key to training. “If we as owners don’t remain consistent, the dog is learning what it’s allowed to do, even if in our heads, that’s not what we desire.”