All bears, except for mothers with cubs or mating, are solitary. They usually avoid human contact although hunger compels them to venture into developed areas. For this reason, they often represent a solitary opponent in dream language.
The bear has many subspecies but in this dream dictionary, I'll combine the black, brown and grizzly bear into one general category, even though there are some subtle differences. (The grizzly bear, for example, is more fierce and aggressive than the black bear.)
Dreamers often ask how can one determine if the bear reflects an aspect of himself or if it represents someone or something in his life. Check your feelings. This is a good way to practice one's intuition. Quietly reflect upon your dream. Can you see from the bear's perspective? Do you feel what the bear is feeling (strong, fierce, sleepy, etc.) or do you feel threatened or frightened by the bear who then may be a waking life opponent or challenge?
The Polar Bear and the Koala, which isn't a bear at all anyway, both have their own dictionary entry. Teddy bears and other stuffed animals are toys and their dream definitions appears in the Things Volume of The Dream Collective's Dream Symbol Dictionary series.
General bear dream symbol meanings
Large obstacle, problem or opponent
Common bear dream scenarios
A bear in the woods. A forest often represents the larger picture in life, the vast unknown or what is hidden (subconscious). Look for other clues in the dream for further clarification.
Bear eating. Preparing for the future. Lean time may be on its way.
Bear eating honey. Enjoying rewards after effort, exertion.
Bear fighting with another animal. What type of animal is being attacked? Look for traits of this animal in the dreamer or someone else in his waking life. Who represents this dream bear? Is it time for the dreamer to draw upon his bear-like strength? Or is someone in his waking life who represents this strong bear fighting an aspect of the dreamer?
Bear being stung by bees. Dreamer's efforts will be resisted by a group or organization.
Bear hunt. If the dreamer is on a bear hunt, he is chasing a large opponent or goal. If dreamer is the bear, he has the ability to fend off foes, but he feels threatened by his problems.
Bear in a tree. There is a time to fight and a time to flee, but this represents that dreamer is running or hiding from his problems.
Bear rearing up on its hind legs, growling. Strength, protection from a strong ally. Possible threat. How to tell? Check your feelings in the dream. Do you feel protected or threatened? If you are the bear, then it is time to be fierce and protective.
Bear rug in front of a fire. Dreamer will conquer his "bear" of a problem and achieve harmony in his home.
Being attacked or bitten by a bear. Dreamer's problems or opponent is doing damage.
Fat bear. Signals contentment, abundance.
Fighting a bear. Putting up a fight when up against problems.
Killing a bear. In a confrontation, dreamer will triumph.
Mother bear with cubs. Maternal protection. Nourishment, nurturing.
Shooting a bear. Determine what type of weapon is being used for clarification but generally, shooting a bear indicates dreamer is attempting to stop the problems or threats in his life.
Sleeping bear. A dormant danger. Or, a time for you to rest. Which is it? Reflect upon how you feel during this bear dream. Do you sense danger? Have you been overworking or overly anxious about pushing forward?
Idioms, sayings and word play
Consider how the following might be associated with your dream bear:
"Bare/bear." Something must be exposed or endured?
"Bear hug." Long, hard embrace with one's entire body.
"Bear of a man." Big, burly physique.
"Hungry as a bear." Extremely large appetite.
"Strong as a bear." Physical strength.
"Wrestling with a bear." Struggling with a difficult situation.
"Smokey the Bear." Forest fire fighter.
"Old bear." Old mean woman.