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Everything You Need To Know About Puppy Play

By Pup Ashtray Boner Kain (Matthew Mullins) | @MatthewBPM 

Arouuuu and hello there! This is Pup Ashtray Boner Kain. I have been a human pup for over twenty years. I am a journalist, artist, promoter, and pup of all trades. I teach classes on puppy play all over the U.S.

I recently reached out to the public and asked people (friends, followers, fellow pups, and handlers) to send me their burning questions about pup play. The response was tremendous. I’m answering them here.

1. What is Pup Play? 

In pup/puppy play, a person or a group of people act like a puppy, dog, or canine. Puppy play is a fetish and lifestyle choice that originally developed out of the BDSM/leather scene, and has roleplay elements similar to the master/slave power dynamic, but it has grown into its own form of roleplay.

You don’t need to be submissive to be a pup. You don’t have to just be a pup or a handler. Many do both. As a pup, headspace can be reached through training your brain to shut up. This can be achieved by several methods, such as handler training, putting on pup gear, or positioning yourself on all fours. Even barking like a dog can push you further into pup headspace.

For myself, I get into it by seeing others in ‘pup mode’ or by staring into a full length mirror on all fours and finding the pup in my eyes. I recommend this method, as it has worked for many pups I have helped train.

 2. Why do people want to be treated like puppies? Is it a mental health issue?

The reason why people are interested in being treated like a puppy, or any other animal they roleplay as, varies from person to person. Most people who do it regularly will tell you that it helps them connect with the primal side within, and they feel more connected to the world and people around them.

It gives you a rush of freedom from your higher thought processes.  All of the stress of your daily life fades away and you exist as an animal (and, some pups would say, as the truest form of yourself). As a pup, the world is simple, absent of technology, society, and humanity. You can exist as an animal without the worry, stress, and insecurities that plague the human mind.

It can be compared to meditation. And it’s super fun. As far as it being a mental health issue, I do not think it should be thought of in that context. Most human pups do everything other humans do. We work, pay bills, and all the boring stuff.

Everyone has a way to relax. How we do that is personal choice. For some it is gardening, others it’s tapdancing. Puppy play is just another thing some people do to enjoy themselves and each other. While it isn’t for everyone, it shouldn’t be seen as anything but harmless.

3. Is it a sexual fetish? Will I feel degraded and humiliated?

While human puppy play developed out of the BDSM community, it has become its own separate community. It’s popular among younger people and has sexual appeal for many. Puppy play is enjoyable beyond sexual pleasure too. Not every pup play enthusiast views the scene sexually. The sexual rituals of human pups varies from pup to pup, just as they vary from human to human.

I find it extremely sexual, but many pups see it as a way to have  fun. For them it’s about connecting and playing with other pups and handlers, and the love associated with the human/bio dog relationship. I can enjoy that side as well.

We all have heard bio dogs called ‘man’s best friend’ and human pup play is a reflection of this relationship. It becomes something some human pups are looking for within each other and within human pup handlers. I have never found a more loving group of people than the human pups/handlers I know.

When I hear someone say they don’t want to do pup play because it is degrading and humiliating, I can’t help but laugh. Some human pups love to be humiliated and degraded, and find the process of being ‘forced’ into the role of a dog sexually appealing. For many of the pups I know, both sexual and non-sexual, they find getting into the role of a pup empowering. Their focus is connecting with other beings.

4. Do I need to buy all the gear I see online to be a puppy? What gear is recommended?

The only thing you need to be a puppy is your body, in any form that it exists. The gear is unnecessary, but useful and practical sometimes, and many pups become gear-centric, for many reasons: it helps them be identified in public as pups, and helps many human pups get into headspace. In my classes, I try to teach ways that you can do it without the gear, but there are practical purposes and also fashion-related purposes associated with wearing it. Here is a list of the most common, important, and practical gear:

Knee pads. These are necessary if you plan on playing with other puppies on all fours. They will save your knees from much strife. As far as gear is concerned, knee pads come first for safety.

Puppy Mitts. Puppy mitts are slipped over your hands, forcing them into fists. It makes it easier to balance on all fours, and helps pups get into headspace while protecting the hands from foreign objects on the floor.

Puppy Hood. Some people would put this as the most important equipment for safety in order to remain anonymous as a pup. They believe that when you have a pup hood on, your identity is mostly safe from the world. This is quite necessary in some ways because of social judgement, and even horrible “morality clauses” within work contracts. A morality clause is a provision in a business contract that binds employees to certain behavioral standards so as not to bring disrepute, contempt, or scandal to the company, and some companies find puppy play (or any public profession and enjoyment of fetish or kink) to be “immoral.” Long story short: there are many stigmas pups have to face, so pup hoods are sometimes seen as crucial, especially in public.

Tail. There are two basic kinds of tails. There are show tails, which attach to a belt and rest above your butt, and for more sexual puppies there are puppy tail butt plugs, which go inside the anus and provide prostate stimulation as you wag your tail. Many pups have both because you can’t wear the buttplug tail everywhere (after you try one, you’ll understand why).

Harness. A harness goes around your body and can be attached to a leash. Puppies tend to wear bulldog harnesses most often. If you get a harness, think about how well it will work for you on all fours. Not all harnesses are made for puppies.

A collar. The collar is my favorite part of the pup ensemble. In some packs, a collar is given by the handler, and many pups collar each other or even themselves. There are many different ways a pup is awarded a collar, and many different kinds of collars. So if you are becoming part of an established pack, find out their rituals and protocol. If you want a collar, go buy one. It’s okay. You be the judge of what is right for you.

5. What activities do these human puppies get into with each other? 

Human pups do all sorts of activities together. Moshing (explained below) is only one activity. As you become more of a pup or find it easier to fall into headspace, the more natural you will become at acting like a canine. We like to mosh on wrestling mats with each other; moshing is a form of social roughhousing that often ends in a puppy pile.

A puppy pile is a very enjoyable experience where everyone cuddles and lays on/near each other. Actual moshing takes a surprising amount of energy out of you, and it’s important to have a puppy bowl with water or a handler with a bottle of water nearby, because you will be sweating and needing hydration after romping with your pack. Human pups are very social and tend to hang out with each other anywhere that is fun. In our neighborhood, we often go to amusement parks, movies, and anywhere else you’d find a human.

Final thoughts: pup play comes down to learning how to love and be loved in a new way. A very special way. Or it’s to get off. Why would anyone judge someone for that?

Matthew Mullins/Pup Ashtray Boner Kain is the 1st International Geared Up Pup titleholder, and co-creator of Los Angeles Puppy Pride. LA Puppy Pride 2017 happens November 9-12 in North Hollywood, CA. To learn more about LA Puppy Pride, please visit the Facebook page for a full list of events.