Dogs That Bark Towards Nothing: A Sixth Sense?

The belief that dogs are sensitive to the paranormal is very old, but … is it correct?

A few years ago, I used to visit a friend from college who, for a scholarship, had moved for a few months to an apartment near my apartment, with his podenco. It was nice to be able to chat with him about the old days, and yet from the second week it became apparent that something was wrong. My friend’s face became more and more marked by dark circles, he was irritable very easily and he began to complain about his work despite the fact that the first days he claimed that he loved it.

The answer to the reason for this he told me just when he announced that he was returning to his city, several months before his scholarship and his internship ended. It was due to something that happened frequently in his apartment: the dog began to growl, staying motionless and heading towards the only interior room of the place, as if he saw something there. The final blow came when he learned that some twenty years ago, a tenant had died right there, electrocuted during renovations.

Stories similar to this are frequent. The belief that animals can perceive paranormal phenomena is as old as it is popular. Even today, many people have experiences in which a dog stares intently into a corner or hallway where there is nothing, with its ears pricked, and begins to bark or growl with obvious signs of stress. What is true in this belief? Is it really true that dogs are capable of seeing aspects of reality that escape our senses?

Dogs barking at nothing: between the paranormal and the mysterious

The scope of belief in a canine sixth sense is impressive, especially considering that there are fewer and fewer reasons to believe in spirits and paranormal phenomena.

A survey conducted in the United States in 2011 showed that about 47% of people who live with dogs have been alerted by these animals just before something bad happened. In other words, the experience was convincing enough that, when interpreting the facts, many people believed that the dog had a kind of sixth sense.

On the other hand, it is also common to believe that when dogs are barking at nothing, there are actually ghosts and supernatural entities. The ambiguity that is generated in these situations feeds beliefs in the paranormal, and there is a phenomenon that, on a small scale and intensity, is reminiscent of the  Folie à Deux, in which delusions or  hallucinations of a person make this Behave so convincingly that the other ends up believing your explanations.

But… are the dogs that do this having visions? From what is known, there is nothing to indicate that these animals experience psychotic symptoms of this type more frequently than humans. But that does not mean that they see ghosts, spirits or echoes of the future or the past: there are other explanations much more complete and simple.

Domestic explanations about the sixth sense of the dog

It seems undeniable that dogs have certain sensory capacities much more developed than representatives of our species. But that does not mean that they enjoy a sixth sense, in the most mystical conception of the concept. In reality, these very strange behaviors, such as getting nervous in situations where there is no clear danger in sight, can be explained on the basis of what is known about your smell and hearing.

It is a fact that these animals can hear sounds at a volume that is well below the threshold of our hearing sensitivity. This means that the same stimulus, such as the meowing of a cat in the distance, can be captured by a dog and not by us, despite being right next to it.

But this better hearing has a drawback: in a very wide range of sounds, it is easy to find one that is ambiguous, leading to confusion, either because it is mixed with others or because it is muffled by materials to which the dog has not been adapted. customary, such as certain metals with which a wall can be lined.

On the other hand, much of the mystery of why this always happens in the same place, and more or less constantly, has a very simple explanation: pipe noises. These components run through a good part of the walls and occasionally generate noises, but we do not perceive them as they are muffled by many layers of construction material.

Dogs in the face of natural disasters

Another fact that is often linked to the supposed sixth sense of dogs is that they are capable of anticipating some natural disasters.

How do you explain that hours or days before a hurricane passes through the area, the dogs already realize that something is happening? It is believed that this occurs because they are very sensitive to changes in atmospheric pressure, something that always happens when a phenomenon of these characteristics is developing.

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