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Can Dogs See Ghosts? What You Need To Know!

doberman dog lying on grass

Dogs can sense things that people cannot. We hear stories of dogs detecting a storm rolling in, the presence of cancer, or an intruder far away. They can see, smell, and hear things that we’re unaware of. Many people believe that given their extraordinary sensing abilities, dogs can also see ghosts. There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence supporting this theory, but what does the science say? The answer may lie in whether you believe in ghosts in the first place.

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It’s More About the Human Than the Dog

Any dog owner can tell you that dogs sometimes exhibit odd behaviors. They bark at something that isn’t there, growl walking past a place that they’ve been to a hundred times, or chase after something that we can’t see. When your dog’s behaving like they’ve seen a ghost, how you interpret it is determined by your beliefs surrounding the supernatural.

The evidence surrounding dogs being able to sense paranormal activity only supports this theory if you believe in paranormal beings. There’s no reliable scientific evidence that supports the existence of paranormal beings or dogs’ reactions to it. Science loves to spoil a good ghost story by providing alternative explanations, but almost half of the people in the United States believe in the existence of ghosts. So, for these people, the question isn’t whether the ghost is there; it’s whether the dog can see it. Still, we need to prove a ghost’s existence before proving a dog can see it.

siberian husky sitting
Image Credit: Aleksandr Abrosimov, Shutterstock

What Can Dogs See That Humans Can’t?

Humans see more clearly than dogs, and they can see a larger spectrum of colors. On the other hand, dogs see movement far better. They’re also much better at detecting motion in low-light conditions. If ghosts tend to appear in the darkness, your dog has a much better chance of spotting them than you do.

Doggy “ESP” (Extra Smell Perception)

Your dog’s sense of smell is 10,000 to 100,000 times better than yours. Given this “ESP,” or “extra smell perception,” it’s not a stretch that a dog could smell a ghost before a human.

There is even a logical scientific explanation for why your dog could be smelling a ghost. Anecdotal stories will state that family dogs love to sit in the favorite chair of a family member who has passed away. They behave much like they would if the family member was sitting there, curled up in their lap, pawing at it for attention, or licking it.

While it’s likely that the dog in this scenario “senses” the person’s presence, it’s probably not their ghost. Our smells are retained by fabric long after we’re gone. We can’t smell it but your dog can.

sniffing dog
Image Credit: Alex Zotov, Shutterstock

Hair Standing on End

When your dog’s hair stands on end for no reason, it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a ghost. Dogs sense the world around them through their skin and react through movements in their hair. An angry cat is actually one of the most obvious examples of how this works.

When a cat is trying to tell another animal to back off, they arch their back, and all their hair stands on end. When a dog does this, it’s not always for the same reason, but it’s the same physiological response. Since dogs can hear sounds four times farther away than humans can, they might be hearing something that alerts them to danger that you’re unaware of.

pomeranian dog outdoor
Image Credit: KristinaSh, Shutterstock

Dogs Are the Ultimate Positive Feedback Loop

Dogs are astute observers of human behavior. They read our energy and observe our reactions, and over time, they become adept at giving us the response that they think that we want.

If you believe in ghosts and you believe that your dog can see them, your dog will pick up on your energy when you feel that there’s a ghost present. If you are fearful, your dog will act fearful by tucking their tail between their legs or hiding behind you. If you’re excited, your dog will become energetic too. If these behaviors result in positive attention toward your dog, you’ve just created a feedback loop that incites your dog’s behavior. They will exhibit the exact same behavior the next time because they feel that it’s rewarding.

german shepherd outside with owner
Image Credit: Yama Zsuzsanna Márkus, Pixabay

Or Your Dog Really Saw a Ghost

While we can’t prove it, it is possible that your dog has actually seen a ghost. Whether it’s a deceased family member or a haunting dog’s sense of energy, if the energy in their surroundings is being altered by the presence of a paranormal being, then yes, your dog can probably sense that presence.

Spooky Things That Dogs Can Sense

  • Dogs not only hear at farther distances, but they can also hear high-pitched noises that are well beyond the human range of hearing. This makes them more likely to hear footprints from a ghost than us.
  • They can detect diseases. A dog’s impeccable sense of smell has led to its ability to detect certain types of cancer, along with pregnancy in humans. Many successful studies have proven that they are accurate in their detection abilities.
  • They bark at things that we don’t see. When your dog is barking at “nothing,” it may be that they’re barking at a ghost.
  • They sense impending weather and natural disasters. Some scientists believe that dogs can detect earthquake activity before it happens and smell changes in the air that indicate a coming storm.
  • They are afraid of certain places with no explanation about the fear. Whether it’s a specific corner of the yard or a room in your house, dogs are sometimes unwilling to go into certain areas. While it may be that they’ve had a prior trauma there (like a loud noise, fireworks, etc.), many times, the fear is without explanation. It could be that they are sensing something in that place.
pocket pitbull
Image Credit: casso, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts: Can Dogs See Ghosts?

It’s impossible to truly prove whether ghosts exist and whether dogs can see them if they do. What is true is that dogs can see, smell, and sense things that humans can’t. So, whether you believe that your dog sees a ghost or is just detecting something far away that you’re unaware of, they can sense what you cannot.


Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

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