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Do Dogs Bark at Ghosts?

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Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.

Do dogs see spirits? Are they barking at ghosts?

Do dogs see spirits? Are they barking at ghosts?

Why Do Dogs Bark at Night?

Some people believe that it is just normal canine behavior when dogs bark at empty yards or blank walls. They point out that dogs see things to which humans are not attuned. They point out that there is nothing paranormal about the behavior; dogs have a much better sense of hearing than we do and notice a lot more than we are able to. Other people just think they are afraid of the dark.

But do dogs see spirits? Are they barking at ghosts? Are dogs able to sense the residual energy left by former inhabitants? It is already known that dogs can sense cancer and detect oncoming seizures, but most of the researchers that examine these dogs don’t think there is anything supernatural in those abilities. I've read several stories recently where dogs responded to events that may have been spirits. In the first story, the dog reacted to a haze that could have been natural or supernatural. The second story involved a dog barking at spirits that even the owner could hear, and the third took place in a campground in Canada where the dogs and the owner all saw the spirit before she disappeared.

“Ghost barking" is said to be different than the normal barking directed at strangers, stray cats, etc.

“Ghost barking" is said to be different than the normal barking directed at strangers, stray cats, etc.

Do Some Dogs Bark Differently?

A lot of dog owners who are in tune with their pets report that the “ghost barking" is different than the normal barking directed at strangers, stray cats, etc. The barking is more likely to be accompanied by whining or tucking the tail between the legs. Instead of an attack bark, "ghost barking" is more likely to be an imploring type of bark, as though the dog is asking the spirit to take part in their world. Of course, if the spirit wishes harm upon her human family, maybe the dog would sense it and the barking would be more aggressive.

If the dog is just excited because of her exceptional hearing, she would not be barking in this way. The unusual barking is almost always reported to occur at night, but there is no reason for dogs to be more excited at night since their vision is about the same day or night.

Do some puppies bark differently when they see ghosts?

Do some puppies bark differently when they see ghosts?

Are Ghosts Only Present in Some Cultures?

In some cultures—mostly those where people still live close to their dogs and are in touch with their feelings—dogs are believed to sense the presence of ghosts. This power may be much stronger on nights with a full moon. Cultures that accept the presence of ghosts realize that dogs and children are more in touch and see things we cannot.

Is it only human spirits that dogs are able to see? I buried my last dog on my property and have been told that this was a big mistake since my new dog would be sensitive to his spirit. If an animal is buried further away, the spirit is not supposed to find its way home. This is not much of an issue in the city, but I have talked to one person in the country who noticed odd behavior when her dog stood in front of her pet cemetery. Any type of “evidence” we can add will only be anecdotal, but I would appreciate any comments in this area.

How Can I Tell If My Dog Is Seeing a Ghost?

There are no clear answers to this question. All I can tell you is to be observant. Patricia McConnell, the canine behaviorist, recommends that we watch our dogs’ facial expressions to better understand them; as we watch more, we will notice the expressions they are making and are more likely to notice anything strange. I would recommend you be more observant of their barking. Notice the depth and the speed of the barking. Is it frenzied, an attempt to alert you, or just a sign of the dog noticing something new in her environment? If the abnormal activity is caused by a petit mal seizure, you can report this to your veterinarian.

Barking, for whatever reason, does have a benefit. Everyone that walks by your house will know you have a dog!

Questions & Answers

Question: I was visiting my ex-boyfriend grave site, and out of nowhere, the wind started to blow and then I heard a dog bark three times. Does that mean he was there in spirit? I was talking to him; stars started appearing than a half-moon came and a flash of lights went off in the sky. Just wondering if it was him letting me know he was there with me.

Answer: I am not sure if it was just a distant dog bark carried by the wind. I prefer it to be his spirit.

Question: My dog barked early this morning. Why is it so?

Answer: Your dog might have heard something strange, might have seen a lizard or other small animal you have not noticed, or maybe just decided to alert you to a weather change.

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Read More From Pethelpful

Who knows? Maybe it was just a blank wall, or maybe he was seeing something that you and I cannot see.

Question: Why does my dog who is 100% deaf and blind in one eye, wake up, walk around, and then lie down somewhere else?

Answer: If your dog is a senior, he may be feeling pain when he lies in one spot for too long. It is also possible that your dog is suffering from dementia and is starting to wander. Read more about the subject at:

Question: I was talking to a female job applicant with my dog listening next to me. Then she suddenly barked at her. What does it mean?

Answer: It is possible that she did not like that person, or grew upset because of some movement or a word that the woman said. It does not sound supernatural at all, just odd.


Lenore on July 21, 2020:

Our dog has started barking around 4 am every morning since our older dog she used to sleep with died. They were together since she was a puppy. Is there anything we can do to comfort her and stop the barking?

Zoe on December 31, 2019:

My dog buddy he barks under the house like deep and like 1 2 3 and i am afraid to go on the trampoline be myself now because o feel like someone is watching from under the house and reading this made me worrie like what if it is dangerous

Sharon on April 09, 2019:

My dog Sparky spent 2 weeks laying in the hall looking into the bathroom & barking at night. Now I know we have a ghost or 2 or so hanging around, 1 is my brothrr so it hasn't been a problem before. We got Sparky from the SPCA the day before the 6th anniversary of my brother's passing the beginning of March. Now 5 years later he's barking every night leading up to March 23rd when he stopped. The next day he's sick & by the afternoon he's not getting up, it's the 24th, my brother's birthday & he's getting worse by the minute then starts having seizures. My husband scrambles to find a vet open on a Sunday & anything we can do for him. Low blood sugar was the result. Gave him honey water & they stopped & found an open vet. We get the news $4000+ for tests & starting treatment to find the cause of the low blood sugar, but he was suffering. So we lost our baby. He died on my brother's birthday. I'm a sensitive & I know my brother was here waiting for my boy because he knew what was going to happen. I think my boy was yelling at him to go away. He was only 7, too young to go.

666666 on April 07, 2019:

Yes, they bark at souls that could be dangerous

Leslie on February 19, 2019:

My dog is sometimes barking at 3am im the livingroom

Taylor on June 03, 2018:

Hi im weirded out for the last 2 night between 10:30 and 11 my dog has been waking up from a dead sleep barking and growling at my roof fan and light she never done it before its that bad she is so scared to go back to sleep. The only she will is if i hug her and tell her she ok. She will not go or stay in my room now.

Edwin on April 23, 2018:

Whenever I try to take a nap during the day my dog begins to bark and wakes me up. The dog barks, growls, whines and looks upwards as if something was hovering above me. The dog's action scares the hell out of me.

Ik on April 07, 2018:

my dog often wake me in d mid night, I decided to check what's cause and later realized it iz a mere cat passing by. I recorded it and checked d next day and noticed some strange roaming dogs. Nothing weird happening at all.

Shauna on December 31, 2017:

Well my dog has been barking at 3:00 am every single day for the past 40 days. Also it’s so weird that I can also see some creepy and weird things am i going crazy or not. But I feel that every single time after school I feel that a spirit is following me.

Av on December 28, 2017:

My Dog barks regularly at 3 am continuously for half an hour by looking at field at same place

Lou Hendricksen on November 01, 2015:

3 years ago I rented a 3 bedroom 2 bath home about 6 miles from my job at the hospital. My 9 year old chihuahua at that time would sit close to the hallway to the bedrooms and stare wagged his tail at nothing....after a year of living at the same house with the same behavior going on off an on----I made a decision to rescue a 2nd dog----the 2nd dog was a 8 month old female chihuahua that would do the same thing----at times both dogs would sit at the look down the hallway to the bedrooms and stare wagged their tail-----friends and family notice the same thing----(no one was at the bedrooms at the time) my grandmother passed away the same year different state) ----not sure if anyone passed away in the house I rented----

Angel on January 10, 2015:

thanks for all the tips they were really helpful in many ways i'll keep my eyes open for ant thing different within my area

Once again thanks...

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on December 29, 2014:

We don't have dogs, but our cats sure notice when the spirit that still hangs around our house is active. They will all stop what they are doing, and stare down the hallway, at apparently "nothing." This even when there are not any other noises (such as the furnace or A/C cycling on) that could explain any such reason for their attention.

My husband is a sensitive, and has experienced our ghost on several occasions.

Often, we will notice that proverbial "cold spot" soon after the cats go on alert.

Debbie on December 16, 2014:

My daughter's dog slipped out of the front door and was run over in the. street. He died somewhere between when we brought him into the house and when we arrived at the vet. His ashes are in her room upstairs. This dog loved to sleep next to the radiator pipe with his head in her sandal. We now have two 3 mo old puppies and one of them sleeps with his head in her sandal by the same pipe. She took a picture and caught an orb hovering next to him. The next night the other puppy started barking at her bedroom door into the hallway. Nothing was there but she grabbed a camera and snapped a picture in the same direction the dog was barking. The picture shows an orb with what looks like a tail due to movement coming through the bedroom door. A nanosecond after the camera flashed the barking puppy leaped over his littermate right into the area where the orb appeared on the photo. He also barks at the sofa where the previous dog would nap. There's an orb in some of the sofa pictures, too. This seems like a lot of orbs, but until now we're never had an orb appear in photos of this house. Now we have one photo with three orbs. Many people insist they are dust, and I'd be inclined to believe that except for the insistent barking of this puppy in the exact direction of where the orbs appear in photos.

Nadine from ohio on November 23, 2014:

This was really interesting! I've asked myself a couple times when my dog appears to bark at nothing if she sees a ghost, but now i am going to pay closer attention!

Linda Hahn from California on October 11, 2014:

I always like the ghost stuff.

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on October 11, 2014:

Thanks Linda I just read your ghost truck story.

Linda Hahn from California on October 11, 2014:

I have no doubt that dogs and cats too can see ghosts. Actually, my dog Katie and I saw a ghostly truck in a cemetery. I know she saw it when I did, then she looked at me to see how I would react.

VJG from Texas on October 08, 2014:

My grandparents had a dog that would often look up and seem to follow someone walking by in their home. Of course there was no one there. He didn't growl, bark or rise into a defensive position. He simply lifted his head from where he lay and watched an invisible person walking across a room.

Wayne on August 17, 2013:

Hi we recently just move to a new home and my pit bull stays outside in a cage well at our new place 3 years ago our land lords dad lived in the home he died in the home we moved into but after he died the home was vacated for 3 year well my dogs has acted strange the first day and he loves his cage now he just want to break out of it is this a sign of him seeing our land lords dads spirit?

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on July 14, 2013:

Thanks Kristy that is beautiful, and I am glad you told us about her.

Kristy on July 14, 2013:

My dear mom passed away of ovarian cancer on 10/02/11. My mom owned a medium sized pit mix from the time she was a 12 weeks old. The following months leading up to my moms death Emma started acting stranger and stranger. There were only two places in the house she acted strange. A corner at the entry way into the house and a space in the living room. She would act unsure, scared, bark, if her bowl was in that spot she refused to eat/drink. Everyone noticed her strange behavior....even the hospice nurse made a comment that she was watching something in the air. She would follow something across the room with her she was watching it. The day my mom died it stopped. Emma has not had this strange behavior again.....and will eat her food at these spots again. I believe she saw the angles that were there waiting for my mom. Thank you for letting me tell our story.

Sarra Garrett on March 17, 2013:

I was talking about my sister who is in heaven to a friend of mine one day and while we were talking my dogs started to stare at the lamp on my end table tilting their heads then started to bark. The lamp wasn't new and there was nothing there such as shadows (it was daylight). I do believe that my sister was 'visiting' me and the dogs saw her. It hasn't happened since. Yes, dogs can see spirits that humans can't see.

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on February 18, 2013:

Who knows, right? Good reason to hide.

TheFranko on February 18, 2013:

Awesome hub! My dog doesn't bark at something that I can't see but sometimes it's scared of something and hides beneath my legs when I'm sitting at the desk (so far I haven't seen or heard anything suspicious or ghost-like but who knows what's inside of my house). :)

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on November 17, 2012:

Thanks for the comment. I just went by your site too. You have an interesting collection!

James Timothy Peters from Hammond, Indiana on November 17, 2012:

This is a GREAT HUB. I know the EXACT person I'm going to share this with.

Thumbs & More!

Write On!

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on September 25, 2012:

Thanks for the visit Nicole.

Nicole S Hanson from Minnesota on September 25, 2012:

Interesting hub! I always find this topic interesting!

Jason Kessenich on July 10, 2012:

Very cool to see my image being used (the chained up dog).

Don A. Hoglund from Wisconsin Rapids on July 09, 2012:

Several years ago we lived in a house with a stairs outside. Sometimes my wife was sure she heard footsteps coming up but no body was there. One time we had an overnight guest that asked us if our house was haunted. The dog did not bark but did sniff around the door. There was a ravine running through the back of our property and I think some sounds carried over from the other side.

bearclawmedia from Mining Planet Earth on July 06, 2012:

Nice one

Pamela Hutson from Moonlight Maine on July 05, 2012:

Wow, I will have to check that out've heard of the book. Thanks!

Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent from Mississauga, ON on July 05, 2012:

CR Rookwood,

A similar experience is narrated by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas in her much criticised book 'The Hidden Life of Dogs' that was published in 1990s.

Pamela Hutson from Moonlight Maine on July 05, 2012:

lol! My Malamute is like that too. And sometimes, he just isn't interested in the same things we are. They have a reputation for being hard to train, but I didn't think he was hard to train--he does have opinions though.

I do have a shivery story about Malamutes though. My dog used to to live with three other Malamutes and a mutt. One of the Malamutes had cancer and had to be put down. The owner took the dog to the vet to be euthanized, and at the very moment of death, all three of the other dogs (who were back at home, including the mutt), starting howling in this high, eerie way. It was like they were saying good-bye.

I know people read a lot of stuff into their dog's behavior, but I tend to believe that story, having lived with this big Nordic dog for seven years now. They are so amazing.

Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent from Mississauga, ON on July 05, 2012:

Replace the word ghosts and spirits with ETs (Aliens) and I will agree. If aliens are secretly visiting earth, dogs are surely better off than us seeing and feeling their presence. My dog, however, barks only at rabbits and strangers from inside the home. When outside, he drools at rabbits and shows extreme furiousness at certain suspicious characters.

It is an informative and well written hub.

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on July 04, 2012:

I´m glad you let me know about your Malamute. When I was younger I raised Siberians and I do not think they would bark if the ghost of Christmas Past showed up. They were good dogs though.

Pamela Hutson from Moonlight Maine on July 04, 2012:

My dog is a Malamute so he rarely barks, but he does 'talk' and howl sometimes. He doesn't seem to see spirits, or maybe he's just not that interested in them. My cat, on the other hand, does seem to see them, or see something that we can't.

I tried your psychic test on my dog and he either wasn't interested or he failed the test. He can tell when either of us is coming home though, way before he could possibly hear the car. So that's cool. Enjoy your hubs and your perspective, thanks!

somethgblue from Shelbyville, Tennessee on July 04, 2012:

I will eagerly await your divine wisdom!


Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on July 04, 2012:

Former owner (master) =residual energy? Are they seeing residual energy? That is a good idea I will include a capsule with a poll.

(Just finished reading your latest hub but won´t comment until tomorrow.)

somethgblue from Shelbyville, Tennessee on July 04, 2012:

It makes me wonder if a dog could sense a reincarnated former master (partner)?

I hesitate to use the term master as I have never felt ownership of another animal.

Dogs rely on their ability to perceive body language and emotion from humans why not spirits.

Give us a poll and let us vote, I will say that most people believe they are capable of recognizing spirits.

What is your vote yes or no . . . make a stand Slacker!

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