A Dog's Sixth Sense?

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I'm the type of person who gets easily freaked out by scary movies, ghosts, or anything supernatural. So it really creeps me out when I'm just watching tv in my room, and my dog starts staring intently and barking at what seems like nothing at all. I've always heard that dogs are able to sense supernatural activity, but is this true and can it be explained by science?

I think it's a pretty well known fact that dogs' senses are way better than humans'. While we have a hearing frequency of 64 23000 Hz, dogs have a frequency of 67 45000 Hz. Also, dogs' eyes can detect small movements that we cannot, and they have a sense of smell that is anywhere from 1,000 to 10,000 times more sensitive than ours.  When properly trained, some dogs are even used in the medical field to help detect some cancers in humans. Service dogs who tend to seizure-prone people are trained to warn their owners of a possible attack by detecting changes in body smells. These heightened senses can be used to explain why dogs are able to sense things in our environments that we cannot. But is what they're sensing when they seem to bark at nothing something supernatural, or is it caused by something else?

Pet psychologist, Marti Miller, theorizes that both dogs and humans are able to sense supernatural activity, but humans don't notice it because we tend to deny these feelings. She says,"Dogs don't judge what is going on in the environment. While our own minds start to analyze what is happening, dogs don't do that." Miller also points out that dogs may react to changes in the atmosphere or a small sound or movement because they have gone through a traumatic experience, such as getting caught in a rainstorm. So because of dogs' super-sensitive senses, they are able to detect even the smallest changes in the atmosphere, and they have been classically conditioned to react to these changes because of their previous traumas. 

There have been countless studies done on a dog's "sixth sense." One study, done by biologist and author Rupert Sheldrake, investigated how dogs know when their owners are coming home. In this 5 year study, Sheldrake studied thousands of dogs and their owners and found out that dogs were not surprised when their owners came home unexpectedly, and they acted anxiously right before they arrived. Sheldrake concluded from this that "there is a strong connection between humans and animals that lies beyond present-day scientific understanding." The article I got this information from did not provide any details as to what Sheldrake actually did in order to test this, so I'm not sure on the reliability of this study.

While there is sufficient evidence to support that dogs have a way better sense of smell and hearing than humans, scientists still are unable to fully explain why they react to things that we do not see, hear, or sense. While there is a good chance that they just sense changes in the atmosphere that we don't, there is always the possibility that what they sense is something supernatural. What do you think?


Last year my family adopted our puppy from a rescue. The people at the rescue told us that he was found on the side of the road. His mom and brothers had all gotten hit by cars as he stood on the side watching it all happen. A traumatic event happened to him yet he is the happiest dog I have ever met. He's very smart too. But there are times when he barks at nothing so maybe he is sensing something supernatural. He also lays in front of mine and my brothers bedroom doors as if he is protecting us from something. Dogs do not only have super senses but they are also very smart. So I would not be surprised if they could sense things like ghosts. But maybe this ability to sense the supernatural differs between breads of dogs.

I whole heartedly do not believe in ghosts or the supernatural, so I find it very unlikely that dogs can sense them.

However, when you talk about dog's being conditioned by traumatic experiences, it poses another hypothesis that could be said about a dog's strange behavior.

Their acute senses may pick up something that we as humans cannot, and thus it could bother them.

The one thing that comes to my mind are dog whistles. They create a sound that is inaudible to humans, but highly annoying to dogs.

Maybe they can hear this sort of frequency coming from the TV itself and react in a way that is most natural to them when they are bothered. By barking.

However, if it is the case that they can sense ghosts and such, it would definitely change current processes of science and the like.

I thought that this was a pretty interesting topic. Both of my dogs were adopted from a rescue agency, but only one of them has a huge fear of thunderstorms. She also has a huge fear of men, but that is a completely different story. When we got my other dog a few months ago, the dog that was afraid of thunderstorms started to get over her fear. That's not to say that she still doesn't sit on top of our heads when she hears the first boom (or senses it), but still.

Dogs are great for predicting something that might happen, like the dogs that you pointed out that can sniff out cancer.

However, reading this made me think of one question. If I were to take both of my dogs to Camp Lejeune, NC, to my old house, would they be able to detect ghosts? I believe in the supernatural and the paranormal, only because when I lived on base, my house was haunted. Strange things happened when my family was there, which was only supported by an old tale about the ghosts in that particular neighborhood and more specifically, my old house.

Are dogs the only animals that can sniff out strange phenomenon like ghosts? Can this apply to other domesticated animals, or is it solely limited to the canine species? Also, can dogs "sense" human emotions, and know the right time to comfort them?

I definitely believe that dogs can sense the supernatural and changes in the atmosphere. I also believe that babies can see ghost too. I think it’s really interesting that the researcher said that dogs don’t analyze what is going on. I don’t believe that because I recently saw a news clip, where a dog saved a baby’s life because the dog sensed or knew that the baby wasn’t breathing. The dog was in the baby’s room in the middle of the night and ran into the owner’s bedroom and jumped on the bed (something that the dog has never done) and was shaking in fear. The owners quickly got up and thought to check on the baby and found that their child wasn’t breathing properly. My roommate also told me a story of when her childhood dog saved her little brother from drowning, when no body else was paying attention. I think dogs do have a sixth sense in that regard that they are able to sense danger and know instantly when something is wrong. Dogs are very good analyzers in my opinion.

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