If you’re a dog lover, you probably can't imagine a better fate than getting to dream about dogs. You spend your waking hours hanging out with your pup, petting dogs on the street, and sending dog gifs to friends, so it’s a true bonus to think about them while you sleep. You might, however, wonder what dreams about dogs mean.
In most cases, a dog theme will permeate your dreams simply because you think about them so much during the day, says certified clinical psychologist Dr. Holly Schiff. “Dogs are ever-present in our society, even if you aren’t a dog owner,” she tells Bustle. “Sometimes dreams are just related to that ‘residue’ from the day — just residual memories resurfacing in your dreams.”
That’s why it isn’t always necessary to interpret your dreams or search for hidden meaning. “Dreams can be similar to thoughts that we have while we are awake, which aren’t always meaningful either,” Schiff says. “Dreaming is a thinking process and can actually be a continuation of your thoughts from the day.” That said, if you keep having dreams about dogs, you may want to do a little digging to see if it really is a message from your subconscious. To figure out if your dog dream represents the deep inner workings of your mind, jot down the details as soon as you wake up. Try to focus on how the dream made you feel and how its themes relate to your waking life.
It might mean something to see a dog in your dream (beyond hoping for a puppy IRL), whether it’s a message about your friendships, relationships, or how you feel about yourself. Below, some interpretations of common dog-themed dreams to help you figure it out.
What Does It Mean When You Dream About A Dog?
1. You Feel Vulnerable
If you dream about a dog barking at you, chasing you — or even attacking — then it could represent that you feel powerless, threatened, or vulnerable in some way while awake, Schiff explains.
“Perhaps you have a dominant and aggressive energy in your life, such as a partner, friend, parent, or boss,” she says. If they’re constantly stressing you out, it makes sense why that stress could morph into the form of a barking or biting dog in your dream.
2. You Feel Accepted
Of course, it matters what type of bark it is. According to dream interpretation site Dream Moods, an angry bark might mean that you, yourself, make a lot of demands on those around you, or that you “bark” to try to control situations.
On the other hand, if the dog has a joyful bark, or if you dream about dogs barking while they play, it could symbolize that you feel happy and accepted socially. "Finally!" your subconscious may be saying. "I am getting to run with the (proverbial and literal) big dogs!"
3. A Growling Dog Represents An Unhealthy Friendship
Now let’s say you dream about a dog growling at you, maybe from a shadowy alley. “This is a warning to take notice of a new relationship or friendship,” Schiff says. Dogs sometimes growl when they feel threatened, so this might be a message that you feel threatened, too. “The emotional attachment may be dangerous,” Schiff adds, “and it might not be the healthiest relationship.”
4. White Or Black Dogs Represent Change
Did you happen to notice the color of the dog in your dream? According to Schiff, white dogs represent pure connections while black dogs represent transformation, usually as it relates to a new relationship. To interpret your dream, think about how this symbolism might apply to your waking life.
5. Dreaming About A Stray Means You Feel Directionless
If you dream about stray or visiting a dog shelter, it could point to the fact you feel like you don’t belong somewhere, or that you feel like an outsider, Schiff says. Similar to a lost dog, it’s possible you feel lost or directionless in your own life, or like you don’t know where “home” is.
6. A Dog Having Puppies Represents New Relationships
Ever dream about a dog having puppies? It can be stressful as you watch the mom give birth. And it can also be really exciting, because yay puppies! As Schiff explains, “Puppies might represent a new relationship or new stage in a current relationship.”
Just like a new puppy, you have a lot of brand new experiences to look forward to with this new person. But according to Dream Moods, this dream theme might also symbolize your own nurturing side. Are you thinking about getting an actual puppy? Or are you thinking about having human puppies, aka babies?
7. A Sick Dog Represents A Neglected Friendship
The animal people know as everyone’s “best friend" often symbolizes true and trustworthy companionship to your subconscious. So dreaming of a sick puppy may mean that you're concerned about a friendship that you (or your friend) have been neglecting. According to Dream Moods, if you dream that a dog is so sick that it is dying (nooooooo!), it could also mean you’re mourning a friendship that has ended.
While there isn’t one true answer to what it means to dream about dogs, it’s possible to suss out some meaning by looking at common themes and seeing how they relate to you.
Nir, Y. 2010. Dreaming and the brain: from phenomenology to neurophysiology. Trends Cogn Sci. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2009.12.001.
Dr. Holly Schiff, certified clinical psychologist
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