Do Dogs See Ghosts?

Hallowee’n approaches, and I cannot get any decent research sources anywhere.

Although, googling “do dogs see ghosts?” probably isn’t the best way to source the very best in balanced, reasoned debate.

It is a feature of the cyberworld that every question asked, no matter how outlandish, is solemnly posted. Yahoo does not evaluate “Do dogs see ghosts” any more than it weighs up the merits of “what do aliens eat for breakfast” or “when is King Arthur’s alarm clock going to go off?”.

Ask a dog, and you’ll get nothing. They’re not daft. They’ve secured an incongruous reputation in the spirit world as being utterly discreet, despite that Man’s Best Friend label. If they do have access to a world of walking wraiths, they’re not letting on. Smile and wave, boys, smile and wave.

So if the dogs won’t tell us, will the internet?

Oh, yes. The Internet will tell us anything we like. A veritable smorgasbord of The Truth, answers to my query vary from “No, but cats do” to “yes they can” and most engagingly “dogs don’t exist.”


So I was reduced to doing some action research myself.

I opted for the centre of several ley line junctions, Windsor Castle and the vast estate which surrounds it.

This place is suitably ghostly. Walking, my children, the dog and I overlooked the most haunted castle and park in Britain. Herne the Hunter is the most ancient. He is the same character you read about in Shakespeare’s Merry Wives of Windsor. A fearsome soul who wears a horned helmet, some say he is the ghost of a royal woodsman who disgraced himself by poaching. He hanged himself on Herne’s Oak, a stones throw from the dog’s eager paws.

And then there’s the grenadier guard. A relatively recent addition to the park’s spiritual portfolio, the stories say he shot himself on duty. They don’t say why: but he’s appeared to several hardened military men since, smiling.

Just down the road at the castle you might see George III looking out of the window of the room in which he is supposed to be incarcerated, Henry VIII strolling in the cloisters, and Elizabeth I pacing the library, amongst others.

Surely, if my dog could see ghosts, this would be the place for him to do so.

He was straining on the leash as we walked past the pink grace-and-favour gatehouse and into the Queen’s estate. He was rather frenzied actually. We began to think he was into something until we realised that the object of his desire was the preponderance of horse dung left by the horsey set on the metalled roads of the estate.

Macaulay paid solemn attention as we walked past ancient tree after ancient tree, each with centuries to its name: some inscribed with histories dating back to Victorian times.

But if he saw anyone, he was inscrutable. His main preoccupation seemed to be with christening the venerable old oaks. He enjoyed that very much indeed.

We pottered past the estate pond, where a line of swans and cygnets lined up to infurate the terrier. Terrier-baiting, I have discovered, is a favourite pastime of these tetchy royal birds. And thence, we repaired to the Queen’s post office and stores, where a chirpy Liverpudlian shopkeeper sold us ice creams.

It is possible the ice creams diverted Macaulay from his ghost-hunting mission. This is understandable. Breakfast was a long time ago.

And thence to Queen Anne’s Ride, a right turn past the playground, where the old Copper Horse has been echoed in a rather lovely statue of Queen Elizabeth II on horseback.

The dog sniffed and irreverently christened. He took delight in the earthy smell of the glorious cattle in the neighbouring field. He was in heaven, but he was showing no signs of seeing anyone from the world of in-between.

We finished our ice creams and turned back. We had a semi-definitive answer to our questions.

Macaulay either can’t see dead people, or he finds them far less interesting than cattle dung.


59 thoughts on “Do Dogs See Ghosts?

    1. They do. There are tales, are there not, of them predicting epileptic fits, and vacating the beach long before it’s tsunami time. What we don’t know about them is a lot.

  1. I’m convinced both my boyfriend’s dog and my cat are able to see ghosts or something. We’ll be sitting in the living room when all of a sudden they’ll be looking at something towards the ceiling, only nothing will be there and we won’t have heard anything, either.

  2. My dog saw a ghost once – with my ex-boyfriend. One of the many reasons we’re not together anymore. πŸ™‚

    And, who knows. Mac may have been christening all those spots to exorcise the space and claim them from whatever he saw lurking there.

      1. Perhaps dogs are as easily (and willingly) distracted from the spirit world as are humans? And I think the use of the ‘christening’ word here is very apt – my mind’s all over the place with possible connotations, given the context.. πŸ˜‰

    1. Cattle dung has quite a call on Macaulay’s consciousness, Nancy. The rest of the world goes away: it’s just him and the dung. No-one goes near him for hours afterwards.

  3. Dear Kate, an astute conclusion. But perhaps he’s playing with you, checking out what you see—-or don’t. Did you notice him observing you for shake of head or quiver of hand? Ah, perhaps he too is researching. Peace.

  4. It might be what he’s looking at when there’s nothing apparently there to see… Gwynn certainly does that often enough, though I suspect he’s more on the alert for cats than ghosts as he fixes his rapt attention on the neighbour’s (to my knowledge) unhaunted shrubbery.

  5. If ghosts exist at all, then I’ve no doubt dogs can see them. After all, if dogs can sense disease or illness in their people, a mere ghost hasn’t a chance of escaping notice.

  6. If it’s ghosts or not, I don’t know, but our dogs certainly see things. They stare and growl at ‘nothing’ and sometimes watch whatever it is.

    1. Strange, JG: Mac doesn’t do that much and then after I wrote this post, this afternoon, he spent an inordinate time woofing at nothing with an incredibly urgent angle to his moustache. Ho hum.

  7. My dad died of a big sudden heart attack in bed one night. Never knew a thing about it.

    My grieving mother was a little freaked out by the way Buster, her corgi, would suddenly get it into his head to rush upstairs and she’d find him in the bedroom, front paws up on the bed, little stumpy tail wagging furiously – just like he used to when he greeted them in the mornings. But there was nothing to be seen.

    Weird, huh? Happened for about a month after dad died. So yes, we have no real idea what dogs sense, see, hear or smell…

      1. My mother found it upsetting that the dog was reacting just as he did when my father was there. It was odd and inexplicable.

    1. I am one of those smug people who never fail to get a good nights sleep, Celi πŸ˜€ And to lull myself off to sleep I love tales like The Woman In Black, and Dark Matter, and Dracula…I have no idea why.

      1. I am the same, not about the dark tales but about sleep, nothing keeps me from my sleep, as long as I am in a bed.. I think you are a russian doll woman .. many layers.. c

  8. Katie mentioned the pets sitting in a room when all of a sudden they look up at the ceiling … only nothing is there. Our pets do that. We call it the “made you look” look. It always gets a laugh. And, yet, maybe they did …

    I’m guessing here, Kate, but I think Macaulay is just the sort to play it close to the vest. He knows … he’s just not letting on.

  9. Well, the other thought I have is perhaps Macaulay sees spirits all the time, so they really aren’t at all unusual. He may be assuming you see them, too! I like that theory and I’ll stick with it! πŸ™‚

  10. P.S. After getting so many people commiserating that we hate shopping (on my post) I decided it would make shopping much easier if we all came to visit you and picked up some classic tweed. We’d still hate shopping, but at least we’d have a long-lasting traditional look, AND we’d have more fun doing it with you, the grandkids and Maucauley protecting us from the ghosts of shopping errors past.

  11. They come out at night, don’t they? Well, late evening was when one of my two experiences of a dog seeing ghosts happened, and the other was well and truly during dark hours. Nothing like having ones own jitters at seeing ‘something’ reinforced by a dog with the utter screaming willies. Picture a great big brave German Shepherd sitting and shivering on a lap for the whole of a forty mile return journey.

  12. Giggle… Dung is way more distracting than ghosts. I wonder if ghost dogs can see people? My college roommate was convinced there was one in her post-college apartment, and that it ran the hallways at night, but it never troubled any of the rest us.

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