When Claire’s Wire Terrier started climbing into bed with her, she thought nothing of it.
But Rascal’s behaviour became increasingly strange. Not only he would climb in and hide under the covers – he would sit up growling at something only he could see in the corner of the room.
This was after they moved into an old house and on other occasions he would stand in a certain spot in the living room and stare intently at a cupboard – even though there was nothing inside it.
This led Claire to believe “Maybe he’s seeing a ghost.”
And she’s not alone. Lots of pet owners believe their animals have seen a spooks.
Does your pooch perceive the paranormal? Have your say in comments below
According to a survey by pet charity Blue Cross in 2019, 88% of 1,362 owners questioned said that their pets had seen or sensed a ghost.
Behaviours included staring fixedly at something their humans couldn’t see, barking or growling for no reason, or coming to a sudden stop as if shocked.
In January, Twitter star Thoughts of Dog posted to its 3.6 million followers that out of boredom a dog will sometimes stare at nothing in order to convince its human that it’s seen a ghost.
Judging by the more than 118,000 likes and almost 10,000 retweets, Thoughts of Dog struck a chord, with many people replying “I knew it!” while others insisted that their dogs had indeed seen a ghost.
But TeamDogs asks if our canine friends really sense paranormal activity, or is there another explanation?
There’s no easy answer, but scientists have provided good reasons to think that, while our dogs might not be seeing spectres, they might be picking up on something else entirely – and that’s down to dogs’ superior senses of smell, hearing, and sight.
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Dogs have far more sensitive hearing than humans. We can hear sounds pitched up to 20,000 hertz, whereas dogs can hear up to 45,000 hertz, meaning our pets will always be able to tune into noises completely inaudible to human ears.
The doggy sense of smell is thousands of times greater, too – powerful enough to notice tiny changes in barometric pressure or to sniff the odour of natural phenomena before they happen.
This helps explain why dogs seem to ‘predict’ certain events like earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or avalanches.
A dog’s eyesight is also much better than ours, especially in low light conditions such as dusk or at night. So instead of a ghost in the corner of your living room the dog has perhaps spotted a mouse or spider scurrying away.
Many animal specialists also point to a dog’s ability to ‘read’ its human companions.
Over the millennia, dogs have adapted to our behaviour and learned to act appropriately.
If you’re alone and anxious, displaying signs of fear, your dog will respond either by tucking in his tail and cuddling close or by going into protective mode, standing still and growling at whatever he thinks is bothering you.
Ryan Neile, senior animal behaviourist at Blue Cross, said: “To a general observer it can look like that the animal has responded to something that isn’t there or might be ‘supernatural’.
“Our belief that this might be the case will often be compounded by the context of the situation. If a dog or cat did this whilst you…