Do Dogs See and Hunt Ghosts?

I visited St. Augustine, one of the most haunted cities in the world.  It is a beautiful coastal town with lovely architecture, especially the old homes.  While I was there, I HAD to go on one of the many ghost tours offered.  If anything, walking and looking at historical sites would be fun.

Our tour guide was awesome.  Dressed in the garb of years past, she floated along the streets in a long skirt and hat, carrying a lantern.  The scene was set; this was going to be a fun night.  We explored the city streets, heard tales of hauntings in many areas, and even went to Fort Castilla del San Marcos.  It was built to protect the entire town’s population inside its walls during a battle.  This fortress was never taken, though the town was burned.

Legend has it that a Captain Marti had his wife Dolores and her purported lover, Captain Abela, chained and entombed in the walls of the Fort to end their lives.  Many visitors report smelling perfume, seeing orbs when checking their camera’s pictures or hearing boot steps from the soldiers that inhabited the fort. Some claimed they heard the EVPs recorded by the popular Ghost Adventures series.  It was a fun tour with interesting history and ghostly lore.  Unfortunately I did not hear any odd noises or see any apparitions.

As a dog lover, the event got me thinking: Are dogs used to hunt ghosts and can they actually “see” or sense them? 

Canine Paranormal Hunters                scooby-doo-098314        

The most famous spirit-hunting dog is of course Scooby Doo.  I always wondered if he pretended to see ghosts just to get his Scooby snacks!  Seriously, even Animal Planet’s series “The Haunted” includes episodes with instances of family dogs reacting to the apparent presence of spirits, reactions that have no easy explanation for the out-of-the-ordinary behavior. Dogs have keen senses; so can they hunt the paranomal?


Cheryl Edmond, paranormal researcher, offers training for dogs to hunt ghosts. She states she has trained over 100 dogs. Since the demand for ghost hunting canines has become so strong, Edmond is making a video on training your dog to hunt and has plans to start a ghost hunting dog school.

She brings her fur baby Stanley, a Rottweiler, along on ghost hunts around the country to help detect entities and protect her in the haunted world she inhabits.   She believes his personal paranormal ESP instincts and awareness are more highly tuned and developed than her own.


When paranormal investigator Jason Hawes of the SyFy series Ghost Hunters decided to add a four-legged ghost hunter to his team, he adopted Maddie, an Australian Cattle Dog/German Shepherd mix, at a high-kill shelter in Tennessee.  Maddie was used to living on the land, not in a house.  When the Hawes family first gave her dog food, she would eat little and prefer to go outside and hunt for worms.

When on a case, Maddie alerts Hawes through body language — raised hackles, upright ears — to sounds not audible to humans, high electromagnetic fields, follows smells and zooms in on slight movements. Maddie catches EVPs (electronic voice phenomena), high EMFs (electromagnetic fields), phantom smells, and shadow figures. Team members then investigate further in an attempt to either debunk the activity or verify it as evidence of the paranormal.   According to Hawes, the team was on a case in South Carolina with a family who believed a relative was haunting their home. Maddie picked up on sounds the investigators did not.  When they reviewed the recording, there were EVPs.


Then there is 10-year-old Pixie, the ghost-hunting Jack Russell terrier. She is a member of the Ghost Tours of America along with her owner, Peggy Schmidt. Pixie is brought to purportedly haunted locations to identify paranormal activity. Schmidt is the author of the book “Tails of the Afterlife”, which chronicles multiple incidents of mysterious actions by dogs who apparently interact with someone (or something) unseen.

Sadie Nose Dark JPG

Making Scents

Can dogs sense a supernatural entity we can’t? Is an animal’s Sixth Sense simply be the result of biology? Canine eyes detect more delicate movements than ours; his sense of smell is 1,000 to 10,000 times more sensitive than a human’s. He can hear much higher frequencies, and at four times the distance of a human.

Wild and domestic animals seemed to sense the approaching Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, communicating their anxiety with vocal warnings, running for cover or refusing to go outside. Some experts believe animals could sense the vibrations on land from impending earthquakes before humans could.

Dogs’ heightened sense of smell is credited with their ability to detect cancers in humans, illegal drugs and cadavers. Seizure service dogs are alert to subtle shifts in body smells and dilated pupils, allowing them to warn their owners of a pending convulsion.

Because dogs can’t vocalize in human language, there’s no way to know what exactly is going on. The fact at this time is that we don’t know for certain that dogs can see or communicate with spirits. That being said if your dog is fixated on something you can’t see, hear or smell, you may dismiss his behavior.

Or is he communicating with the unknown? You decide.


This entry was posted in Behavior, Golden Retriever, In the News, Service Therapy and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Do Dogs See and Hunt Ghosts?

  1. Great to learn about the different dogs like Pixie and Maddie that help ghost hunting teams sniff out ghosts. We do think that animals can sense things humans can’t and wrote a blog post about it: Wouldn’t it be interesting to know if certain breeds make for better ghost hunters than others?

    • It would be interesting to know that. I haven’t been able to find the answer to that in any research. Maybe it depends a lot on the personality or intuitive spirit of the dog. We’ll have to keep an eye out for this distinction.

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