Can Dogs See Ghosts?

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Does your dog sometimes seem to be barking at a wall? Are there certain parts of your house or your neighborhood that seem to make them nervous? If so, maybe you've wondered if your dog can see ghosts. Lots of pet parents think there's some connection between dogs and ghosts — that dogs can see or sense something people can't.

Let's take a look at why people think dogs can see ghosts and what might be at the root of dogs' mystifying behavior.

A Brief History of Dogs and Ghosts

If you suspect that your dog has a connection to the paranormal, you wouldn't be the first. In fact, cultures throughout history have considered dogs and ghosts to be closely linked.

According to Ancient History Encyclopedia, both the Tarascan and Aztec tribes of Mexico believed that dogs could see and would protect them against ghosts: "Both groups buried their dead with dogs who were thought to then serve the soul in the afterlife as both a guide through the underworld and as a protector against ghosts." Tarascans believed that a "spirit dog" would find bodies that hadn't been buried and lead that person's soul to the afterlife, so they wouldn't haunt the living. The Maya also believed in a spirit dog — in the underworld, they said the dog would help your spirit navigate to paradise. And in ancient Greece, people were thought to encounter a three-headed dog called Cerberus when their soul passed on to the other side.

Beagle poking head out of door.

Can Dogs See Ghosts?

Unfortunately, this is one of many unanswered questions humans have about dogs. To date, there's no evidence connecting dogs and ghosts — not to mention whether you believe the evidence for paranormal activity.

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), however, many of dogs' seemingly unexplainable behaviors can be attributed to a combination of their heightened senses and the fact that, compared to humans, they're "more open to trusting what they feel and acting on those feelings accordingly." In contrast, we humans analyze everything we encounter; we're more suspicious.

The AKC also notes that dogs are incredibly attuned to things we might not notice — like changes in barometric pressure; faraway, high-pitched noises; subtle smells; and even objects or movements beyond our own field of vision.

All these senses enable dogs to notice activity we simply can't. Whether that activity includes the paranormal or not, though, remains to be seen.

Other Possible Explanations

The AKC suggests that if you've noticed your pet staring at the wall regularly and if you've ruled out the possibility of an infestation in the walls, it might be time to call your veterinarian. Staring at the wall can sometimes be a sign of a more serious issue, like canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome or partial seizures. If you notice your pet repeatedly exhibiting strange behaviors that may indicate that they're in pain or distress, definitely contact their vet.

Can dogs see ghosts? Right now, we don't have any scientific evidence to prove they do. But it is a fact that dogs are incredibly perceptive — more so than we often realize. Consider keeping a log of your dog's behavior and paying attention to patterns around the times when they seem to be attuned to sounds or vibrations you can't perceive. Perhaps you'll learn a bit more about your surroundings if you try to experience them from your pet's point of view.

Contributor Bio

Erin Ollila

Erin Ollila believes in the power of words and how a message can inform—and even transform—its intended audience. Her writing can be found all over the internet and in print, and includes interviews, ghostwriting, blog posts, and creative nonfiction. Erin is a geek for SEO and all things social media. She graduated from Fairfield University with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing. Reach out to her on Twitter @ReinventingErin or learn more about her at