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Can Dogs See Ghosts: 6 Behaviors to Watch For

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No one can deny that dogs have extraordinary senses, and some people believe that animals can feel (and maybe even see) spirits around them. But is there any truth to this?

“The most honest scientific answer to whether or not dogs can sense the paranormal is that we simply don’t know,” says Jordan F. Slavik, an instructor at the University of Maryland who is currently working towards his PhD in philosophy. “Much like ghosts or spirits themselves, science can neither completely prove or disprove such a claim—at least not yet.”

Slavik says that the notion that animals, particularly dogs, have some supernatural ability to sense ghosts and other paranormal phenomena has been in existence for thousands of years.

“The ancient Egyptians and Chinese both believed animals to have a direct line to gods, goddesses and the afterlife,” Slavik says.

Does your pet have the ability to sense the supernatural? Here are some signs that your pet might be able to see ghosts:

They Have a ‘Sixth Sense’ About Something

Dog in field

The fact that some animals seem to have a sixth sense probably won’t come as a surprise.

“This theory has some basis in the fact that dogs have reportedly foreseen imminent tsunamis, tornados and other natural phenomena before they occurred,” says Slavik. “Some dogs can likewise sense seizures, cancers and other medical developments far before we can.”

If your dog seems to be very sensitive to certain emotions or changes in the atmosphere, he might be more sensitive to other things as well.

“Much like the feeling we get of something being ‘off,’ of being watched, or of ‘bad energy,’ dogs may have some subconscious insight into what lies beyond our senses,” Slavik says.

They See Something You Don’t

Dog looking at camera

When it comes to dogs’ senses, keep in mind that theirs are not only different to ours, but they’re also much sharper.

“Certain movements, smells and sounds which might escape our notice are picked up by man’s best friend,” says Slavik.

Take vision for example: dogs see a wider field of vision than we do, according to Russell Hartstein, a certified dog and cat behaviorist and trainer.

“They only see muted colors, however, their ability to see moving objects and at a distance far surpasses our abilities,” he says. In addition, dogs can see much better in twilight, dusk and dawn.

Brandy Stark runs the paranormal investigation group SPIRITS of St. Petersburg and sometimes takes her two rescued Pugs on investigations with her. During one investigation, they were the first to spot unusual activity.

“As we were getting ready to do a second walk through, both boys suddenly stopped, turned in unison and looked at a spot on the wall,” says Stark. “I [later found] out that the original business owner, who was the one believed to haunt the property, had an office in the building, and although the area had a lot of reconstruction, the spot indicated by the Pugs was where he had an office window and would stare outside during the day.”

Later, on the same case, Stark set up video in one of the hallways.

“The Pugs were running around and were about the only entertaining thing captured on video,” Stark says. “Suddenly, one of them stopped, turned and looked at the door, turned back around and looked at the video camera, looked at the door again, then walked away.”

A few seconds later, the door cracked open a few inches on its own.

They Smell Something You Don’t

Dog nose close up

It’s no surprise that dogs are always sniffing around—after all, science tells us that a dog’s sense of smell is up to 100,000 times stronger than a human’s.

“A dog’s olfactory glands could be the main reason for their supernatural senses and behaviors,” says Hartstein.

For example, dogs seem to be able to “smell” storms, cancer, low insulin levels, bombs, drugs, truffles, Hartstein says, so it makes sense that they might be able to smell other energies we’re not aware of.

They Hear Something You Don’t

Dog listening

Auditory perception is another area where dogs perceive the world around them vastly different than human beings, Hartstein says. While humans can hear in ranges of up to 20,000 Hz, dogs can hear sounds as high as 60,000 Hz, Hartstein says, adding that dogs have the ability to rotate, tilt and raise their ears in a way humans can’t.

“Similar to a radar for honing in on sounds, a dog’s greater hearing abilities allows him to hear higher pitched noises and at further distances than we do,” Hartstein says.

According to Slavik, this could be what makes dogs more likely to hear some footprint of a ghost or a parallel universe.

“Many paranormal investigators assign a variety of natural signs to the presence of the supernatural, [like] sulfuric smells, cold spots, concentrated electromagnetic fields, high-frequency sounds (EVPs),” Slavik says.

In fact, most of these sounds are recorded at a decibel range we can’t hear, which is why investigators rely on technology to catch them. Who’s to say your dog isn’t hearing one of those echoes from the other side?

They Are Attracted to or Scared of a Particular Place

Scared dog

Stark’s Pugs were recently investigating a case at an antique mall, a place the group has visited before.

“The moment we walked in, [the dogs] bolted for the room to the far right—a room where we often find the Tinkerer, a friendly old man [and ghost],” says Stark. “They loved that room and kept going back.”

Whether pets can feel the presence of energy might be debatable, but it’s not necessarily all that strange. After all, you’ve probably seen dogs dislike or immediately love a person they just met, presumably because they sense the energy that persons put out.

“I will say that [my Pugs have] differing personalities,” says Stark. “Should they focus upon a single spot and/or desire to flee an area at once, I will likely follow.”

They Suddenly Act Differently

Dog on walk with owner

In a way, pets bring a very different set of eyes to a place and event—one that hasn’t been tainted by our beliefs and expectations.

For example, we don’t teach dogs that they can’t see ghosts in the way we would tell a person, Stark says, adding that she can tell her dogs are detecting something she can’t by how their demeanor changes in the presence of the unusual.

“It’s those few times that the Pugs interact with something—looking to a spot in the room, going immediately to areas that are active—that gives additional validation [of paranormal activity],” Stark says. “We have elements of suggestion (i.e. if we go here, it’s likely haunted) but they don’t, so they are a pure read of a location.”


Diana Bocco
Diana Bocco is a full-time writer and adventurer, whose work has been published in DiscoveryChannel.com, Yahoo!, & Popular Mechanics.

Featured Image: Olivier Tabary/Shutterstock