Using Dogs as Paranormal Investigators? by Jennifer Doane of PI-Team of Utah

June 15, 2011 on 9:55 am | In Article | 8 Comments
It’s long been said that animals are able to sense paranormal activity sooner and to a higher degree than humans can.  In fact, one of our questions when we’re interviewing people that have asked us to investigate their house is whether or not they’ve noticed their pets acting strangely or reacting to unseen things.
Many times we’ve been by told by a client that their dog will not go in a certain part of the house, or their cat will arch its back and hiss at something they cannot see.  This not only increases the client’s sense of unease but it also causes them to worry about what is frightening their pets.
One of the newest “tools” in paranormal research is the use of dogs to help pinpoint hotspots of paranormal activity.  You may have seen that TAPS has introduced Maddie on the Ghost Hunters TV series.  I know when I first heard about it I didn’t really see how a dog could be used on an investigation. I will be honest that I thought it was just a gimmick, which unfortunately the paranormal field is full of. But after doing a little research on the subject I became fascinated and we decided as a team to look into it a little further.
We determined that one of the most important aspects of using a dog to help investigate haunted locations has nothing to do with what it’s able to see,  and everything to do with what it can smell.
Here are some facts about a dog’s sense of smell:
  • It is approximately 100,000 times better than that of a human
  • Dog’s can smell fear
  • Dog’s can smell human fingerprints that are a week old
  • Dog’s can smell electricity
  • Dog’s can detect certain types of cancer with an accuracy rate of 88-97%
The fact that dog’s can literally smell fear and electricity is what really made me think that TAPS was onto something good.  One of the main pieces of equipment that paranormal investigators use is an EMF detector.  EMF stands for electromagnetic field.  This field is usually put out by electronics such as microwaves, refrigerators, TV’s, etc.  However, it has also been found during paranormal activity, which is why we use the EMF detectors.  While investigating, we look for sharp increases in the EMF field, and these are especially important if they correlate with other activity such as shadow movement, odd sounds, etc. In fact we experienced this phenomenon when we investigated the Sweetwater County Library.
If dog’s can smell electricity they can be trained to sense when there is a higher EMF level.  The paranormal investigators can use this to find the EMF hot spots in a location.  They can then determine if there is a natural cause for the higher EMF or not.  The investigators can also observe the dog as they do a walkthrough of the location to see if there are any areas that the dog does not want to go, and they can observe any changes in the dog, such as cowering or growling.
We don’t feel that a paranormal team should rely solely on how the dog behaves, or the areas it might react to, but we do believe it’s another tool that an investigation team could have at their disposal.
The Paranormal Investigations Team of Utah is lucky enough to have a member who is not only fascinated by the paranormal, but is also a very good dog trainer.  He has brought with him, The Captain, who I’m proud to say is our newest paranormal investigator.  We invite you to find out more about The Captain and follow his training progress on our website, at
Jennifer Doane
The Paranormal Investigations Team of Utah


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  1. Did you know there are report of the Rock springs Library being haunted also? One of the librarians claims to have seen a person walk by the circulation desk before she was opened.

    Comment by Esmerelda Weimerainer — June 16, 2011 #

  2. I have actually heard another story about the Rock Springs Library. JF worked there some time ago and the story goes she was there alone and started hearing noises. The noises were very odd and not a normal sound. She became very spooked and had to leave the building.

    Comment by mgilmore — June 16, 2011 #

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    Comment by Jacquie, Lisa, David, John, Derek, Alfonzo, Allan, Ricardo, Joyce, Jane, Jayne — September 23, 2011 #

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  8. Taking a pet on an investigation has it’s risks, and I don’t feel it’s fair to expose any animal to a possible attachment. I have seen pets harassed and abused by malevolent spirits, not to mention that they can contaminate evidence.. not a good idea .

    Comment by Sue — January 11, 2015 #

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