If a dog is hankering after a piece of food that's just out of reach, follow the pup's eyes - he might be trying to tell you something.
A group of canine experts from Brazil and France recently tracked the gaze of dogs as they tried to get their owners to pass them a snack. When dogs look from human to food and back, this action "suggested that some dogs' communicative behaviors could be functionally referential and intentional," the researchers write in the journal PLOS ONE.
To test the way dogs try to communicate with pet owners, the researchers enlisted 29 dogs and a promise of their favorite foods, which were set on a high shelf. The scientists tracked a variety of the dogs' behaviors when food was both present and not, including where the animals gazed, barking, touching the owners and if the dogs licked noisily or silently.
If there was food around, "the dogs gazed longer at the owners," the authors write, which "referred visually to the owners as if trying to get their attention or waiting for/seeking a response."