Why strange pet behavior might be paranormal activity
Is your dog behaving strangely? Barking at thin air? Playing with someone you can't see? It's possible your dog's just a clown, but maybe, just maybe, it's seeing spirits.
According to Animal Planet, most evidence of dogs seeing the dearly (or not-so-dearly) departed is anecdotal. According to internationally known medium Bonnie Vent, it's absolutely possible, though just as with humans, not all dogs have the gift. According to Vent, dogs typically react to spirits in much the same way they would react to humans. If it's a friendly spirit, say the spirit of a beloved owner or a playful child, the dog might be caught jumping and romping with an unseen spirit. If the dog senses danger, it'll react much the same way it might to an unwanted living intruder.
Vent has witnessed her mother's dog play with an unseen spirit person and even communicated with animals to find out what they're sensing. However, Vent cautions against simply assuming strange behavior is a reaction to the spirit world.
One of Vent's cases, which was featured on the reality TV show Phenomena Police, featured a dog that was refusing to go upstairs. The homeowners were convinced their house was haunted. However, after communicating with the dog telepathically, it turned out there was a medical issue with the animal's back.
If your dog is exhibiting strange behavior, it's imperative to look for environmental causes before leaping to conclusions. Focused intently on something you can't see? Are you sure it's not just a fly? Refusing to engage in tasks it previously had no issues with? Take your dog to the vet for a checkup. Once you've eliminated all observable causes, you can take your dog to a pet psychic or clairvoyant capable of communicating with animals.
Check out this video from YouTube user Zack Clark who filmed his dog seeing a spirit. Around the 2:15 mark, she's clearly barking at something we can't see on the footage.
Can your dog protect you?
You dog cannot harm someone in non-corporeal form. That said, Vent tells us that spirits are just like living people. "They tend to be very emotional if they have unfinished business," she says. "Some are very nice, while others are angry at their circumstances. They have all aspects of what makes us human minus a physical body." That also means they're likely to react to a dog the way they would have in life, so your dog might scare them away or they might simply leave if they realize they're bothering the dog. She made it clear that most spirit people are kind and considerate. They probably mean no harm. However, if you suspect they do, the best step is to contact a proven paranormal professional.
Helping your dog deal with its gift
Like humans, most dogs either don't (won't) see spirits or only see them if the person (or even animal) was important to them. Some spirits may even purposely reach out to a dog that can sense them in order to have the dog attempt to communicate with you. Just like perfectly nice living people make some dogs nervous when they shouldn't be, spirits can too.
If the spirit presence seems to make your dog nervous even though its friendly (just like a storm might make your dog nervous even though there's really no danger), there are some steps you can take. Christine Argo, a clairvoyant who spoke to Pet360, suggests hiring an animal psychic if the dog's behavior becomes disturbing. But you can also feed your pet a few drops of an essence called rock rose (to help with courage) and mimulus (to ease fear) three times a day. According to Argo, there are no negative side effects, but as always, check with a holistic vet. You also might try a thunder shirt (meant to calm dogs that get nervous during storms). Whether or not it works depends on the dog, but many find it comforting.
Why can't I see the spirits?
Vent tells us that most people don't see or hear spirits, though many do. She also cautions that some may ask for a sign from a departed loved one only to ignore or dismiss the subtle signals he/she sends. If you ignore the signals, the loved one may try harder to be seen or heard, but there's also the possibility your dog is sensing something you aren't, so pay attention.
Regardless of why you can't see them, I highly recommend following Vent's advice of looking for worldly explanations before jumping to conclusions, especially where your pet's health may be concerned.