You’ve probably had that experience, the one where your dog is lying quietly one minute and up and alert the next. Sometimes they bark or growl, sometimes they run and hide. And while sometimes you can find a good explanation as to why … sometimes you can’t. There doesn’t seem to be anything out of the ordinary, but your dog doesn’t agree. Many people believe this behavior is the result of dogs being able to sense spirits.
The connection between dogs and spirits goes back to ancient times. In Greece, dogs were sacred to the goddess Hecate, a goddess closely associated with spirits who did not cross into the underworld. In Egypt the jackal-headed god Anubis was the god of the dead. Many cultures have linked dogs with spirits over the centuries. We have mythology about dogs who roam with the dead, folklore about ghost dogs, and modern stories of strange doggy behavior. There is an enduring connection between canines and supernatural phenomenon.
A Dog’s Hearing
Dogs can hear almost twice the frequencies that humans can hear, and they are able to pinpoint sounds more accurately. Their ability to hear ultra-high frequencies means that we’re largely deaf to many of the sounds that are just part of a dog’s world, so a dog reacting to things we can’t detect is not only logical but commonplace. However, that doesn’t explain what they’re reacting to. Many “ghost hunters” use what’s called EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) to evaluate the presence of a ghost. There are numerous recordings (some clearer than others) in which voices can be heard on the recording though no voice was present during the recording. If ghosts do exist, and talk, and their sounds can be recorded, couldn't it be possible that a dog would be able to hear them unaided even though a human can't?
A Dog’s Vision
A dog’s sees more clearly in the dark than a human does, and its vision is based on motion moreso than a human’s. Also, dogs have a higher sensitivity to flickering, meaning that their brain processes visual information at a higher “refresh rate” than a human’s. A good example of this is the television. It refreshes at a rate of around 60 Hz, so humans perceive it as a smooth, continual image. However, a dog has a higher rate of perception, as high as 70 to 80 Hz, which means that when they look at a television they may see a series of flickering images, similar to what a camera records if you take a picture of a television. If ghosts exist and can become visible in some capacity, then it is possible this difference between human and canine vision could mean dogs might see ghosts when humans can’t.
A Dog’s Sense of Smell
Humans have around 5 or 6 million olfactory receptors, while dogs have about 220 million. That means that even the strongest human nose is 35 times weaker than a dog’s. Smells are a commonly cited symptom of ghost activity. Many people report smelling the perfume of a loved one who has passed on, or sometimes a given smell will appear out of nowhere. If ghosts can produce this phenomenon, and humans can detect it, there is every reason to believe that dogs would sense it even at minute levels.
While there is no scientific proof of ghosts, there is plenty of evidence that dogs know more about what’s going on in the world around them than their human counterparts do. Whatever your dog is reacting to, it is real, even though we might not be able to identify it.