What do dreams of dogs mean?

Jonathan Warren

Author: Jonathan Warren



What do dreams of dogs mean?

Dogs have been “man’s best friend” for centuries. But whilst our fluffy companions provide plenty of entertainment in our waking moments, what does it mean when they bark their way into our dreams? 

Our dreams can tell us a variety of things, so in this blog we explore how our relationship with pups can impact our subconscious and the potential meanings behind their appearance in our dreams. 

The symbolism of dogs in dreams

Human love of dogs goes back to ancient times. Ancient Greeks and Romans alike kept dogs as pets and valued them for their loyalty and their courage. Classic tales of Homer’s faithful dog Argos in The Odyssey and depictions of Ceberus, the three headed dog entrusted by Hades to protect the underworld, are reflections of dogs as trustworthy and steadfast protectors. 

This is mirrored in Hinduism, a religion in which dogs are viewed as the gatekeepers of heaven, as well as in both Christianity and Sikhism where worshippers value the faithfulness of dogs. 

Fast forward to the modern day and dogs often feature in popular culture as beloved best friends. From Wallace’s Gromit to Dorothy’s Toto and Clifford the Big Red Dog, there’s plenty of tv shows and films that emphasise the best qualities of our canine friends. And these depictions can offer some reflections as to how we view dogs in our dreams where their appearance can represent the need for guidance, protection or even emotional support. 

Personal connection and emotional significance

People are extremely passionate about their pets, so it’s no surprise that the deep emotional connection we have with dogs might make them more likely to feature in our dreams. You might even have given in and allowed your furry friend to perch at the end of your bed during the night!

Dreaming about your own dog can be reflective of the deep rooted bond you share and can evoke powerful feelings of joy and nostalgia whilst feeding into a sense of comfort and contentedness.  On the other hand, if your dog is no longer with us, then a dream about your trusty former sidekick might carry a deeper emotional significance, symbolic of your desire to have them barking away at your side again. 

Potential meanings behind dreaming of your dog

Dogs can appear in your dreams in various ways, from positive encounters to nightmarish experiences. The manner in which the labradors, poodles or chihuahuas are presenting themselves whilst you sleep can indicate different things and, although each dream is specific to each individual sleeper, we’ve taken a look at some common dog dream scenarios and what they might mean. 

Dreaming of an old pet

If your fluffy best friend is no longer with us, dreaming of your old dog could mean your subconscious is focusing on past times and memories gone by. Reflecting on the past could help you find your way forward and deal with your grief. Some view dogs as spiritual guides and guardians of heaven, so an appearance from an old friend could be a comforting nod to your old times together and a message that you’re on the right path with your dog watching over you. 

Playing with your dog

Having a good time with your canine pal is bound to put a smile on your face during the day and it’s no different at night. Dreaming of playing with your pet can be reflective of joy and your sense of home. You might find that your friendships or relationships are in a really positive place and that’s something to be celebrated!

Seeing your dog injured or dying

Dreaming about your dog in pain is bound to be demonstrative of you experiencing some intense emotional distress. An injured dog might be reflective of sickness in your life or other struggles. Whilst it can be difficult to watch an injured dog, these dreams can activate compassion and sympathy. 
If you dream of a dog dying then perhaps there is a relationship in your personal life which has broken down or been lost. But worry not! Shedding some tears in the face of intense emotions can be very cathartic if you find yourself experiencing deep feelings once you’ve woken up. There are also plenty of cultural depictions which link dogs to reincarnation and the idea that you’re not alone!

Being chased or bitten

Plenty of individuals have negative experiences of dogs and so it’s no surprise that they can play a key feature in many a nightmare. Being chased by dogs can be indicative of stress in your life. Perhaps there is a looming deadline at work or one of your relationships is causing you anxiety. A dream about biting on the other hand could indicate that a trusted friendship has been soured or you’re feeling pressured by something which presents as quite aggressive in your life. Whatever the subconscious meaning, reflecting on your worries that have pervaded your sleep is a good way of recognising and confronting your fears. 

Tips for understanding and engaging with dog dreams

If you are searching for a deeper understanding, there’s plenty of things you can do to explore your dreams about dogs. Keeping a dream journal is a great way to track your dreams so you can reflect on your experiences to see if there are comparables to your waking life. 

Given that dreams are inherently subjective, take the time to embrace the feelings of love you experience when you dream about dogs. Dreams, although naturally fictional, can be a fantastic way to help, heal or inspire oneself. 

Equally, if the nature of your dreams are a cause for concern, because you are afraid of dogs or they represent a lost loved one, then speaking to a therapist could be a great way to reconnect with yourself again and harness your dreams in a positive way. 

Searching for more meaning behind your dreaming?

Lots of research has gone into dreams and the meaning behind them. So much so, we’ve even penned our own blog on what dreams actually mean which has more information if you are seeking to better understand your sleep. Our Time4Sleep blog also has plenty of other hints and tips when it comes to improving the quality of your kip.