Research carried out by Abertay University, Dundee, has revealed that even untrained dogs can "read" and "predict human behaviour" without being asked.
When an owner stared or pointed at a certain area they wanted the animal to move to, the dog would do it.
The dogs studied varied in their training levels, with some having had years of help while others were abandoned dogs from a shelter.
Study leader Dr Clare Cunningham said: "As dogs have become domesticated, one of the abilities that has been selected for is attending to human behaviour. As they get to know particular humans, they pay more attention to them and this may mean they can read, and even predict, human behaviour with more efficiency as familiarity grows."
The study, published in the journal Animal Cognition, did not expect the untrained dogs to perform as well but they did, leading the experts to conclude genetics, not training, controls how their brain works.
Dr Juliane Kaminski from Portsmouth University said: "The evidence coming from different directions clearly suggests that selection pressure during domestication has had an effect on dogs' skills in this domain."