This has been written in part for the Puppy 101 class at International Puppy Tampa 2012 by Christopher “Tyger”/”Woof” Roth. Some information has been taken from Informed Content, Animal Roleplay Wiki and humanpups.com please feel free to use this for your own group, event or contest. All I ask is that the proper credits are given.
Ever have someone come up to you at a bar or event and ask you what puppy is all about?
How many have or ever had a cat or dog as a pet? How many times have you come home from a stressed day and think what a wonderful life they have? Someone to pet, feed, play with them. They are happy, mostly carefree (unless you don’t get them the treat when they want it or you aren’t awake when they want you to be)
That’s what the “headspace” of puppy/pet play is all about. Putting the binds of the human world to the side for a while and “puppy out” Puppy play is NOT about bestiality. Human puppy play does not involve real pups/dogs in sexual activities and it does not mean someone desires to perform sexual activities with real biological pups/dogs.
To elaborate a bit more, there are a variety of explanations of what puppy play actually is. Something important to remember that puppy play is not “cookie cutter” it’s unique to each pup. Not every pup is into the puppy gear aspect, sexual aspect and so on.
Nonsexual animal roleplay, or therianthropy, was a common and integral part of ritual in many tribal cultures both in recent and likely prehistoric times, where a member (or members) of the tribe would take the role physically and often spiritually, of an animal that was either revered, or hunted. Examples of the former include many of the American Indian tribes and Arctic native peoples, examples of the latter are evidenced by cave paintings. In 1911 Julia Tuell photographed the last Animal Dance ("Massaum") performed by the Northern Cheyenne of Montana.
It is also sometimes used in education, especially physical education, as an enjoyable way to encourage people to exercise the body in unusual ways, by mimicking various animals.
Dog play evokes many feelings for both the Master/Mistress and the Dog/Puppy. Typically, it is a combination of training, humiliation, discipline and control. Whilst some practitioners would consider that humiliation is paramount to the activity it does not have to be; it has as many limits and boundaries as the participants want it to have. From a simple perspective it is enjoyable, relaxing and similarly empowering. It can be whatever people want it to be, but most of all it's fun.
Public participation in human animal roleplay is varied. A couple could inconspicuously roleplay a silly but loving pet play scene in public, but it would look like one partner is merely stroking the other's neck innocently to the casual observer. In the case of many conventiongoing furries and some BDSM fetishists, one partner may wear a dog collar with a leash attached.
The reasons for playing such a character or animal can vary as much as the actual physical manifestations and intensity of the play. Some people enjoy being able to "cut loose" into a different, or more dynamic personality (e.g., Werecreatures or Catgirls). In some cases, pet play is seen as a loving, quiet cuddling time where there is no need for verbalizations and the simple act of stroking, rubbing and holding the other partner is satisfying or reassuring in and of itself for those involved. For others, there may be a spiritual side to it. Some feel closer to their animal totem, while others may identify with something akin to a deeper side or part of their own psyche (ie. Therianthropy). For still others, there is the experience of power exchange setup in a context or structure which they can accept. Clearly, again, it depends on the people involved and what they bring to it or take from it.
Additionally, some cases could be considered a type of animal transformation fantasy. They can have strong elements of exhibitionism, be totally enjoyed in the privacy of the home, or lie somewhere between either boundary. While not widespread, erotic humananimal roleplay is still enjoyed by a sizable number of people. However, it is still primarily identified with BDSM practice, or as being associated with furry or other alternative lifestyle activities.
It should be pointed out that each type of play can focus on a certain "strength" of an animal character. Puppy play often can involve BDSM related discipline. The usual limits of safe, sane and consensual apply to roleplay as much as any other activity between humans who accept and respect their partner's interests and limits.
Note: Just because one partner is playing the "pet" does not necessarily make them the passive or submissive play partner in the scene. For example, if the form of pet play is for the meek and timid partner to "transform" into a werewolf or mischievous anime catboi or girl, they may take the upper hand and dominate the partner. Again, how the play is interpreted is entirely up to the people involved.
Pup Play in BDSM Community
Some people believe that they have certain animal 'instincts' and through animal roleplay can let them out. This is especially true in the BDSM communities, where some people 'live' as their chosen animal 24/7. This type of mentality goes beyond roleplay and becomes a full lifestyle for the parties involved. There are also 'hybrids'. These are humans who live parttime as one type of animal, and parttime as another. This is usually determined by the situation.
There seems to be a growing trend among the BDSM scene in animal roleplay, especially pup and kitten play. Playing the role of a pup or kitten is one of giving over complete control over to another, while the 'Master or Handler' expects only unconditional love and obedience from his/her animal.
Puppy play or dog play is where at least one of the participants acts out canine mannerisms and behaviors, it is sometimes associated with leather culture. The dominant role is taken by a "Handler", "Trainer", "Master", or in the case of someone who still identifies as canine, an "Alpha". The submissive may be considered a "pup" or a "dog". Unlike other forms of animal roleplay, it is not uncommon for two or more pups to play together as equals, fight for dominance, or play where one is clearly the "alpha". Puppy play is often about being playful, mischievous, and instinctive. In relation to other BDSM play, a "puppy" who is "unowned" or "uncollared" can be referred to as a "stray". Other elements rooted in BDSM play involve bondage and restriction with collars, leashes, cages, and hoods, the submissive's hands are often covered in mitts, both sexual and nonsexual services are requested, and "training" may take place in order to teach commands. The submissive may be asked to bark, kiss/lick the dominant's foot/shoe, and eat like a dog
What is a human puppy / dog?
I’m prefacing this by saying these are very general statements and do not include/exclude anyone. The human puppy or pet is as unique as the human themselves are. Not every description is set in stone and infact very fluid. Many times a pup with have one or many of the aspects mentioned below.
A puppy or dog is a human pet. It can be a male or female who identifies closely with real biological pups/dogs and lets go their human inhibitions and stress to embrace their animal instinct. They live in the moment, their entire existence revolves around getting a pat on the head, being told they are a good puppy, exploring anything and everything that looks interesting or fun, even if it's sniffing someone in public. A pup/dog may take on the persona of a biological canine to varying degrees from being on all fours chasing balls and barking instead of talking to only taking on the personality of a pup/dog but retaining their human abilities.
Here are some of the terms and differences used in the Puppy Community (all terms are fluid and can possibly mean something different to someone)
Slavepup One that is owned and in an M/s dynamic relationship; enjoys the servicing aspect and doubles as a pup. In dog show terms, the working class.
Gearpup One that is about the fashion, the gear, and not necessarily the training. Fetish is about the gear (i.e. leather, rubber, etc). Think toy class in dog shows (little dogs tend to be the ones with little sweaters, right?!)
Furry Taking an animal (in one's imagination/artwork, of course) and giving it human traits (walking upright, speech, etc.), where Puppy is about taking onto oneself aspects of a bio dog.
Furrypup One who doubles as furry and pup. Enjoys fursuits, furtails, and other furry gear. More of the roleplay aspect than the actual fetish.
Feralpup One who is unowned or one who is in need of training. In relation to the kink world, brat comes to mind.
Dog One who is either further along in the training, one who feels more mature than a pup. Doesn't have to be physically older.
Puppy Opposite of the dog; very young persona, but does not mean disobedient or bratty. Rather playful and excitable.
Wolf Very pack driven, typically feral. One does not simply own a wolf; the wolf is owned by the pack and the pack is owned by the wolf.
Alpha A mentor, teacher, leader. Alphas will tend to have a natural dominance and many are attracted to then because of that. Being an Alpha does not give you the right to be an asshole
Beta The beta pup tends to be more a follower rather than a leader. They will stand up for themselves, their pack or whatever though it the need arrises.
Omega The omega is the pup that prefers to avoid conflict, they tend to be mostly submissive and enjoy that role.
Handler Can be in a personal relationship with a pup, but not expected or required. Handlers typically are about watching over all the pups in their training or in the general vicinity of their pup. Assist in pupsitting often. More about the playful side.
Owner and Sir Typically in a relationship with the pup. Shows intimate affection to the pup as well as some training. More about the romantic side than the training.
Master / Mistress Can be in an intimate relationship with the pup. More about the training, protocol, and obedience of the pup
Slave vs. Pup While they both can be the other, a slave typically is in complete servitude to the Master. Rules, expectations, and protocol are important, needed, and desired for the slave to properly give their submission. A pup, however, thrives on the playful ways of training and living. Protocol is STILL expected and applied but for most slaves, being a pup is a mental break from slavery. Does not excuse the slave from rules unless negotiated.
Service Pup vs Slave the difference between a service pup and a slave pup could be that slave pups focus on the needs of the Master and servicing Him while a service pup serves the kink community in their local chapter or area. Instead of being focused on One or a Couple, service pups focus on the Whole.
For many it's a part of their inner spirit, it's who they are whether in pup gear or not, for others it's just a type of role playing
Also pups can be Dominant, submissive or a switch. There can also be pups that switch roles from pup to Alpha to Handler, depending on the situation or opportunity.
How should strangers approach a human puppy / dog?
Most pups/dogs love to be petted but a stranger should approach a human pup/dog the same way they would approach a real canine. If the pup/dog has a human with them, you should ask the human if it's ok to approach or pet the pup/dog. If the pup/dog is alone and turns away or growls when you approach them, you should leave them alone. You should never try to grab a pups/dogs collar or leash and if they are wearing a lock you should never touch it or the collar as some owners take this as an act of disrespect to them personally. A pup/dog that wants to be petted will make it obvious and might move toward you or they may lick or sniff you when you approach.
A human pup/dog approaching another should use some common sense, never just run up and pounce on the other pup/dog without properly introducing yourself using barks or whimpers or human language. The other pup/dog might not want to play or their owner/trainer/handler may not allow them to interact with other pups/dogs
For some it's completely nonsexual, there is no erotic or sexual interaction at all, simply relying on someone to feed and reward or discipline them is only an exciting variation of Dominance and submission (D/s). For others, they are always a human, capable sexual behavior with other pups or humans. Puppy play has strong naturally occurring elements of D/s, ownership and control, as well as other traditional BDSM aspects
Puppy play depends on what the people involved are hoping to accomplish, it can be nothing more than roleplay fun or an escape from reality using an alternate personality
What activities are involved in puppy play?
Anything a real puppy/dog might do! It can range from simply sleeping on a pad on the floor at night, to housetraining, to chasing a ball or Frisbee to wrestling with a human or other pups to playing a day in the life of a "pet owner".
Taking care of a human pup/dog can be as demanding as taking care of a real pup/dog or as simple as living with a roommate. Depending on the pup, there may be a lot of training and care involved. Most people will not want to clean up the floor or the human pup after it pees or potties but some might want to have to train them not to. Others may prefer their pet to be more selfsufficient and clean up after itself as well as help do chores around the house.
What toys/accessories are involved in puppy play? What do human puppies/dogs wear?
This is something that is unique to the Handler/Trainer/Owner/Alpha and pup. Not every pup needs or wants gear. Sometimes, something as simple as a collar is needed to get into the puppy "headspace" or some pups like to be fully geared from head to toe.
At home, some demand their pets always be naked other than a collar and sometimes a hood, tail, mitts, knee pads and maybe socks or shoes for foot protection since real canines don't usually wear clothes. It's up to the owner/trainer/handler to determine what, if any clothing is to be worn.
At clubs, bars and friends homes pups/dogs usually wear as little as possible ranging from totally naked, to jock strap, to wet suit, to normal street clothes.
At restaurants and other public places, common sense applies. Normally you can wear a collar and sometimes some pup gear can be worn, sometimes not, depending on the situation.
The fantasy can be enhanced by props and accessories. What is involved in puppy training? Always remember Safety First!!
Puppy trainers may want to use behavior modification techniques using the following tools to train their pup/dog:
A first aid/cpr course is very important. You never know when it will be needed. Always have a first aid kit handy. In puppy play, bandaids, larger bandages are the most common thing needed
Muzzles or hoods may be used to prevent the pup/dog from speaking since pups/dogs bark and whine, they do not speak, they use body language or other antics to convey what they want. Remember to remove it frequently to allow them to drink. Note: If a human puppy is never allowed to speak or interact as a normal human being for long periods they may become psychotic and dangerous to you and themselves.
Bondage mittens, or more specialised mock paws, allow an extension to the play that restricts normal human activities whilst at the same time promoting the feeling of being a Dog/Pup. Padded bondage mitts or socks to restrict thumbs and pad the knuckles
A butt plug with an attached tail can simulate a real tail. This is something you do need to be careful with. You don’t want a tail being worn and go to remove it only to find you just have the part that goes on the outside separate from the inside part. Some pups have created a harness or jock with a tail attachment
An animallike collar with a leash is common and is used much as it would be on a dog. Care must be taken when pulling against the throat, as the human trachea is much easier to damage than a dog's. Most leather dog collars are comfortable enough on a person but will leave a stain on human skin if worn for very long, so it is worth selecting the right one to start with. Choke chains are common, but be aware of allergic reactions.
Knee pads to protect their knees while crawling. Make sure you find a pair of pads that fits well and doesn’t slide easily. (use Boo’s scraped knee example) Hardware stores, sporting good stores are a good source.
Dog bowls may be used to feed pup/dogs. Human faces are too short for most dog bowls so use a shallow bowl or one large enough for them to get their entire face in. Being a human pup/dog requires a lot of energy so keep a lot of water available to them. The human tongue was not designed to scoop up water so be sure to keep the bowl full or use a water bottle or even a straw taped/attached to the bowl. To enhance the eating experience, canned human foods such as beef stew, corned beef hash or breakfast cereals can be used. They can be relabeled if desired. Human pups/dogs should never eat real dog food! It does not have the correct nutritional content and may give them diarrhea, make them very sick or poison them. This includes things like dog bones, rawhides, bully sticks, jerky for pets.
Squeaky toys and balls with rope through them so the pup/dog can grasp it with their teeth. Again remember that pulling too hard even in play can loosen or pull teeth out. Also toys should be able to be washed/sanitized on a regular basis.
Restraints may be used to restrict the pups ability to stand up or use their hands since pups/dogs are always on all fours and don't have thumbs. Note: This can be physically debilitating if taken to extremes or frequent breaks are not allowed
Cages or shock collars (around their thighs never around their neck) may be used if a puppy engages in or responds to normal human conversations since pups/dogs can only understand and respond to simple commands, like "sit", "stay", "come", "heel", "fetch" etc.
A large, well padded dog bed for taking naps or sleeping.
Treats for rewarding good pups/dogs. (dogs treats are not human treats) Be aware of allergies for both your pup and the pups they play with.
A rolled up newspaper or paddle to correct minor behavior problems.
Chastity devices if your pup/dog tries to hump things or people. Be sure to get one that can be left on when urinating. Housetraining pads for the floor if needed
Is that all? Nope, anything else an owner or a pup wants that helps them get into headspace. As with many activities these props and accessories can be added and improvised such as puppy tail, chastity shorts, booties, dog bowls, cages and chains all add to the role and the play that can take place
Being a pup/dog 24/7 is a fantasy. The human body needs to exercise as a human and communicate regularly as human to remain physically and mentally healthy. Being on all fours 24/7 would result in joint, muscle and spinal damage and never having a normal human conversation could result in a psychotic pup/dog that may be a danger to you and themselves.
To be a healthy pup/dog, they have to be a healthy human.