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In general the dog in your dream represent strong feelings or urges that are only slightly socialised or proper. If you have loved dogs and been loved by them, then it can depict this love or caring given or received.
Because the dog features in so many ways in dreams, you have to consider the context in your dream. So it may represent faithfulness, doggedness, a dirty dog, or unclean feelings or urges, usually of sexual nature, or even aggressive feelings that you are afraid of and do not know how to deal with well. It is sometimes used to represent a person who threatens or attacks you emotionally, such as a father or marriage partner, who shouts, barks and rages, or shows their teeth at you. In this case it refers more to feelings induced by the attack. Or it can symbolise, depending upon the dream content, your own feelings of anger and aggression, or even your intuition. The dog as an example of intuition is shown in the following dream.
Example: Was crawling through a tunnel underground. I was now in a dreary, dismal, drab Edwardian type room. My mother, father and dog, Tramp, were also there. It was quite a big room. Tramp went up to the fireplace and put his paw up under the shelf as if pointing. I looked and saw he was indicating a crevice under the shelf. I felt there were papers in there, but also that there might be fingers in there touching mine. I said this to my father, but he did not reply. The hole was getting bigger all the time, and the room darker.
The dog is generally thought of as a male creature, quite different to the femininity of cats. It thus stands for male sexuality and adventurousness or aggressiveness. As it sees in the dark, and has keen ears, it is sometimes used as a symbol of instinctive or intuitive knowledge. The dog here also represents the instinctive life. That is, the person who lives from inner feelings and direction like an animal. In some dreams, the dog is used in a similar way to the Egyptian symbology, as a guide into the unconscious, or land of the Dead.
The dog appears in dreams more often than other animals. It depicts our natural drives that are well socialised, but still have the tendency to revert back to the spontaneous or ‘wild’ state quite easily. For instance our anger might usually be well under control, but if someone teases us we might surprise ourselves by the amount and strength of our anger. Similarly our sexuality may be usually expressed in a socially acceptable way, but if we are in a situation where our sexual pleasure is stimulated or allowed easy expression we might deeply shock other people and ourselves by what we do; so an easy expression of such aspects of ourselves as aggression – maybe because dogs show their teeth easily – sexuality, especially male sexuality, friendship.
The dog can also depict the parts of self we usually keep out of sight, but which may express spontaneously such as our easy flowing natural feelings; devotion, perhaps to a lover or child. Also for some people a dog was the only source of expressive love in their childhood, so may well depict this; fidelity and faithfulness. As a sheep-dog it is also the guardian of our welfare.
Example: The role then came to life and spontaneously I as Vince the dog went to Alan and stood up on my hind legs with my paws on his chest, looking into his eyes. I wanted to communicate something to him.
The communication was so strong that I as Alan felt it and will describe it. Vincent reminded me of the many things we had shared in life. As this happened I felt such love – the love I really had felt for that beautiful dog. As I felt this Vincent and I became one being. I remember carrying him in my arms when he was young because, as a runt he was so nervous that at times he couldn’t even walk. I remember going everywhere with him as I walked London. I also knew that Vincent represented for me the ability to see into the invisible worlds – psychic sight and sensing. He had demonstrated it to me at least twice.
As all these memories poured through me I felt deep emotions pouring up and started crying. Crying because Vincent was helping me be aware of things I had not put together before. Lately I have been trying to extend personal awareness again, into lucidity and into the world. The emotions I was feeling were due to a realisation, and as this happened I knew what the previous dream of Vincent meant. I understood because various bits of memory came together to form a whole.
Like the cat, the dog can be a substitute baby for childless women, or represent affection or caring; occasionally we depict a person, or what we feel about a person through the character of a dog. See: cat.
In mythology the dog has symbolised the guardian of the gates of death, or a messenger between the hidden and the visible world. The dog was also thought of as a guide or guardian of the hidden side of life entered in sleep and death. The following example illustrates how love can survive death.
Example: It involves my dad and his English bulldog, Chauncey. They were big buddies. Chauncey even went to work with Dad. Several years after Chauncey’s death, I dreamed of a female English bulldog who was very pregnant! A few weeks later, she appeared to me again, smiling proudly at two adorable puppies. One was brindle and the other was brindle and white. She showed me her house and street sign. The name of the street was Rosebud Lane. Then Chauncey appeared in the dream and told me he was returning and he would be the puppy that walked to me first! The next day I got the classifieds and started calling. It didn’t take long, the second call was located on Rosebud Lane. When I arrived, the mother dog looked just as she had in the dreams. She even acted like she knew me. I stood back and waited. Shortly, the little brindle and white puppy waddled to me. Dad cried when I handed the pup to him. Reincarnated bulldog…why not? By the way, Chauncey had a nickname…it was Rosebud!
Black dog: The black dog figures in quite a lot of people’s imagery. Churchill and Bernard Levin uses it to represent depression. For some people it is death. The sense or meaning the dog gives in relationship to depression or death is that it is a living energy in us which has gone ‘bad’ which causes the depression or death; urges which are largely unconscious; messenger related to death.
But the black dog is only occasionally representing death. It usually is about feelings or spontaneous urges that we are suspicious of and so are kept downstairs - in the unconscious out of sight. So seeing it is a dream is showing how you are becoming more confident – even if you are scared when you meet it.
Dog attacking: Either being attacked by someone and so represents their anger or snide criticism or your own anger or aggression. See: Animal phobias.
Dog on lead attacking: If you are holding the lead – restraint of your aggression toward someone. If someone else is holding the lead – feeling attacked by someone. As in Cornelia’s dream in the example below, there may be a sexual connection.
Dog on lead: Restrained or controlled urges; urges we have trained or directed; holding back or restraining parts of oneself.
Puppy: Youth, heedlessness, spontaneous affection and enthusiasm. It often represent a child, or feelings about wanting a child, being pregnant with a child, even one of your own children. Also vulnerability or dependent needs. Like any young animal, it can depict your need to care for or love something, or be loved. What happens to the puppy, if neglected or mistreated, most likely indicates memories of pain from your own childhood, or neglect of vulnerable parts of yourself. See: Baby animal in animal situations; Neglected animal in animal situations.
Woman’s dream – attacked by dog: Could well be feelings about male sexuality or a relationship with a male. Possibly the dreamer is holding back her own female strength and cannot meet the male strength.
EXAMPLE: “I continue on my path, and suddenly the nettles disappear and the path is clear. Ahead the wall has curved round to face me, but there is a gate in it, and I can see my dog waiting for me on the other side.” Mrs. M. G.
In the dream from an elderly woman the dog is leading the way through the experience of meeting death. Mythology has often shown the dog in this light, as an inner sense of knowing how to find transformation through death – or as the ravaging threat of death.
EXAMPLE: I was with a female friend who is a lesbian. Two dogs attacked us. My friend ran away but I couldn’t. Cornelius.
On exploring her dream Cornelius discovered feelings about her own womanhood and relationship with males. She realised the dogs represented her relationship with male sexuality, and that her friend was afraid of males.
EXAMPLE: I was aware of the danger of two, or maybe one young child. They had been allowed to carry a small animal which acted as a scent lead for large tracker dogs which were hunting and would attack and kill whatever they were tracking. I found one of the boys trying to hide under a pot or a basin in the spare ground behind the house I lived in London. I pulled him out from his attempts to hide. He had no idea of his danger. Two of the dogs – perfectly harmless and friendly when not hunting, were coming close to me and trying to lick me. They had huge mouths. I got very angry with one man, a farmer type, who I thought had been careless in the way he was urging the dogs to hunt. I swore at him in public, calling him something like a ‘fucking idiot’. There was a large public gathering and I wondered what the public would think of me swearing. D.G.
There is an obvious reference in this dream to the unconscious urges some people have to hunt and hound others. The dogs especially depict this unleashed aspect of human nature, harmless when not set into motion. It also shows how such actions by others threaten the child in us, or the areas of personal vulnerability.
Example: I come out of my house. Across the street is a nursery. (this is actually true, there is a nursery across the street and the street is well used and busy) I looked up to see my yellow male labrador dog named Odo. (He is a dog I have now) He was sitting in a truck on the passenger side. He looked like he was smiling. I thought, “What in the world is Odo doing in that truck?” At first I thought he was driving the truck, but then realised that he wasn’t, an ancient old man was. And the truck was weaving from one side of the street to the other. I yelled for Odo to come back and he jumped out of the truck. How I don’t know. But he did. He came running toward me, but there was a chain-linked fence between us. The fence ended at the street, but Odo was attempting to climb over the fence instead of going around it. I shook my head and said to myself that he was going to hurt himself. Sort of laughed, too. Then I woke up. I remembered thinking the day before that I was comparing my husband, A, to Odo. And thinking if I could just accept the silly things he does as well as I do with my dog, our relationship would be so much easier. K.
In this dream K. is probably right that she is using her dog to consider her relationship with her husband. She may even be using the dog as an image of her husband and his character.
Idioms: See a man about a dog; hair off the dog that bit you; call off the dogs; you can’t teach an old dog new tricks; raining cats and dogs; dirty dog; as sick as a dog; dog eat dog; dog in the manger; dog tired; dog’s life; gone to the dogs; let sleeping dogs lie; lucky dog; tail wagging the dog; top dog.
Useful questions are:
Is my dream dog represent someone I know or my own spontaneous feelings?
Is there any indication of relating to this dog as a child or a love object?
What feelings is the dog expressing? Is the dog helping me meet or understand death or the unconscious?
If so what am I learning?