The informant, a middle-aged family friend from New Jersey, heard this folk belief from a friend at a sleepover party when they were young.
“Alright. So there’s this old, sort of like, folklore thing. I remember learning this when I was a little kid. Well, not learning, because I don’t think it’s true, but that one way that you’re able to see ghosts is that if you kind of stand behind a dog and look, like, above its head, right between the dog’s ears, right where the dog is looking, and if there’s a ghost there, it will appear.”
I thought this was an interesting extension of a generally held thought that animals are more in tune with the spiritual world in a way that humans are not, possibly because they have more developed senses (hearing, sight, smell) than humans do. Specifically, dogs are thought to be very intuitive, and are sometimes regarded as “guardian spirits” who help guide humans through their lives. People often reference dogs’ “sixth sense” and their ability to recognize evil or nefarious presences in their owners’ lives. Because unlike humans, animals do not distinguish between things that are considered “real” and “imaginary,” it is possible that they can see things that we can’t because we filter out things we don’t understand, while they accept everything they see without judgement.