How do you choose a sound design aesthetic? For example, seeing a dog hearing a dog or see a dog hear a cat?
Seems like a huge question. I agree with Tim in that the answers lie in the material, and there are many many answers (a career's worth).
Is it realistic? Is it a period piece? Is the sound in question in the foreground, mid-ground, or background? Animation? Danger? Humor? On screen or off screen? Flashback?
I might cut a dog bark differently for each different answer to the above questions.
The aesthetic for sound deign is motivated by the story, the directors brief, the particular moment in the arc of the story & its relationship to story before and after the moment, the genre, the setting, the emotion, the characters, the action, the era, the time frame, the point of view etc etc....
Interesting question - if I am reading it the correct way. Games are a bit different to Movies in this respect IMO in that the production cycle is often much longer than movies and to keep an overall aesthetic for a 10 hour game you have to have a clear vision of what you want. But basically it goes like this, what's the game about? whats the target audience? what does the director want? what references are we using? what are the cliches? what do we think will be cool in X number of years? What technology are we using?
Are you asking about using realistic versus antithetical sounds?