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Can dogs see ghosts?

Animals have an extraordinary ability to perceive things that we humans don’t even notice.  For example, animals can not only tell that an earthquake is nearby but, in the case of dogs, they can even tell if a person is speaking the truth or lying. Don’t you wish you could do that?

Even if you haven’t been through an earthquake, you’ve probably heard stories of dogs that begin to howl with anxiety before an earthquake hits.  There are also reports of other animals that start to manifest strange behavior such as: fish jumping out of the water water, rabbits that leave their burrows or hibernating animals that begin emerging from their hiding places before an earthquake hits.

But many of these behaviors might have an explanation: the five senses (taste, smell, vision, hearing, and touch) of animals are oftentimes much more developed than those of humans.  We often can’t sense things that your dog or cat notice clearly.  

For example, dogs have a sense of smell that is 10,000 to 100,000 times sharper than our own. While they have to 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses, we only have about six million.

Dogs also have a deeper sense of hearing. It doesn’t hurt that they have 18 muscles in their ears that permit them to move their ears around and in the direction of any sound. Dogs can hear higher pitched sounds than humans. They can detect sounds from 67 to 45,000 Hz; Humans, by comparison, can detect 64 to 23,000 Hz sounds.

Can dogs see ghosts? Pygmalion can! Photo courtesy Cheryl Edmond
Can dogs see ghosts? Pygmalion can! Photo courtesy Cheryl Edmond

Can dogs see ghosts or are they using a Sixth Sense?

However there is evidence that points to the possibility that dogs have access to a “sixth sense”.  We may notice that our dog is barking or howling at a fixed spot on our ceiling, in a closet or at a doorway. Many believe that animals have a sixth sense, a sense that allows them to see or sense the presence of a ghost is in a room. Even the cable channel, Animal Planet, has a TV series called “The Haunted” that features stories family dogs alerting their owners to presence of spirits.

In the 1960s, American parapsychologist, Dr. Robert Morris, used animals as “controls” in an informal parapsychology experiment. He was studying a house inhabited by ghosts and focusing on rooms in which murders had been committed.

He used a dog, a cat, a rattlesnake and a rat. According to his report, during the experiment when the dog got a short distance inside the room with the “bad vibes”, it began to growl on his own and went right back out the door. The dog also refused to enter again, indicating that dogs can see ghosts or at least sense them.

The cat was introduced in the room in the arms of his master. When it reached nearly the same distance in the room as the dog had, it immediately jumped on its owner’s back and dug in its claws (outch!). The cat then spat on a nearby empty chair in the corner of the room.

The rattlesnake immediately adopted an attack posture. Interestingly, it was directed against the same chair that had pissed off the cat.

The only animal that did not react was the rat. Strange.

When the four animals were brought to a room of the house that didn’t have a terrible history, they all behaved normally.

Interestingly, when humans entered the “bad vibes” rooms, they felt a major temperature drop. However, a thermometer used in the experiment didn’t record any temperature change. Based on this study, what do you think? Can dogs see ghosts?

Can dogs see ghosts? Brittany can! Photo courtesy Cheryl Edmond
Can dogs see ghosts? Brittany can! Photo courtesy Cheryl Edmond

When things go bump in the night, a dog can sense what humans can’t

We know that dogs are already used to sniff out bombs, drugs, and track down escaped prisoners. So why not use them to detect ghosts?

It’s not uncommon to come across a psychic as part of a team of paranormal investigators. Techies are also an integral part of most ghosting hunting groups. But how many ghost hunting team include a four-legged ghost hunter?  

In 2012, Jason Hawes and the SyFy Ghost Hunters team decided to add a dog to their team.  They picked Maddie, a beautifully speckled Australian Cattle Dog and German Shepherd mix that he found at an animal shelter located in Tennessee. She makes an excellent team member because she has canine intuition, is well-behaved and has heightened senses. And, as TAPS member Grant Wilson said, “She’s not bringing in any predispositions, she hasn’t made any judgments ahead of time, whether this place is haunted or not. You can’t get more honest than a dog.”

Maddie Hawkes, and her human, Jason Hawkes of Ghost Hunters
Can dogs see ghosts? Jason Hawkes of Ghost Hunters may think so. Here he is with ghost hunting canine, Maddie Hawkes.

The Ghost Hunters team aren’t the only ones to have ghost hunt with a canine. Paranormal researcher, Cheryl Edmond, has trained over 100 dogs for ghost hunts. You can ghost hunt with pretty much every breed of dog. However, the dogs bred specifically for hunting might make the best partners. For example, if there is a type of dog that can see ghosts, it is probably a  sighthounds. Sighthounds like whippets are great because they have such sharp vision and can detect movement quickly. They also have a really impressive range of vision that is wider than what we have: 270 degrees versus our 120 degrees.

Just don’t get this kind of dog: 

Can dogs see ghosts? This one can but he gets scared and runs away!


Tips for ghost hunting with a dog

Can dogs see ghosts? If you plan to ghost hunt with your canine, you need to train it on how how to contribute to your  paranormal investigation. Some tips:

  • Teach your dog to alert you through body language, not barking, growling or making other sounds that can disrupt your investigation
  • Your dog can point, pop up its ears or stare intensely to quietly alert you to the fact that it has heard sounds that might not be audible to humans, noticed high electromagnetic fields, phantom smells or shadow figures. Your human team members can then investigate the activity and either debunk ir or confirm that is paranormal in origin.
  • Never take your dog into unsafe places that you wouldn’t enter yourself.
  • Make sure there’s nothing on the floor that your dog can step on or eat.
  • Don’t forget to give your dog a treat afterwards to reward it for its help!

Can your dogs see ghosts? Let us know if you’ve been on a ghost hunt with a dog or have a photo to share.

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One thought on “Can dogs see ghosts?

  1. Very interesting article and an additional tool for the ghost hunter. Dogs are used in many types of therapy and service; dogs assisting in paranormal investigations makes sense.

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