Features Jun 24, 2015 at 4:00 am

A Primer on the Kink That Involves Puppy Hoods, Wagging Tails, Fetching Bones, and Barking—But Not Necessarily Sex

Puppy play seems to serve a psychological function that other kinks don’t always reach. The Stranger


It should go without saying that 'popular' in the headline means 'more popular than we imagined but still not absolutely popular'
Who's a good boy? Who wants their belly rubbed? rubadub dub...whos a puppy wuppy?? go get your frisbee! i love this idea. ...where can i try? can the puppy and human change rolls? or once a pup, always a pup?
I can't say I totally "get" it, but I try really hard not to be judgmental about pups. For me personally, I don't like the trans-species aspect. I know it's not about bestiality AT ALL. I know that, really I do! But seeing those puppy hoods makes me think of it and turns me off.
I'll save you some time preparing next week's corrections: "In last week's issue, Matt Baume erroneously implied that straights a) are not into puppy play, and b) won't get hip till gays think it's tired. We have since taught him how to use a search engine, procured him accounts on FetLife and CollarMe, and sent him to Anthrocon. The Stranger regrets his smug errors."
@3 - Yeah, the hoods don't do it for me, either. When I've played with pups, I tend to use things like the rubber balls, or even a rubber chewy bone to help submerge them into that headspace. And plain ol' tug-o-war with an old sock is always a favourite. (Sometimes even more so if it's just been dug out of the laundry.)
Interesting. I believe a lot of masculine roleplays are ways to stay in the "be strong" injunction, and be able to take care / be taken care of while not having to say it and thus not having to show one's vulnerability.

The author writes about the pleasure of "vigorous cuddling and praise"... What if that could happen without having to wear masks ? What if intimacy was about daring to *be*, without having to *do* or perform ?

I do not mind about wearing masks ; I am just wondering why some people need to "normalize" their experience by finding "psychological justification" to their actions... ?

The Stranger also regrets their failure, shared with some of their commenters, to use the word "Furry."
@7 - No, they're different. Pups are on Facebook, furries are on Twitter.

I dunno. I get the animal mindset, but I don't get the puppy play implementation of it. Maybe it's something you have to be gay to make sense of.
I bring out the animal mindset as a coping mechanism several times a day. For me, it's always predacious, never social, and certainly not sexual. Damping down complex thought and higher levels of abstraction allows me respite from racing thoughts and other symptoms of my anxiety, and by giving myself over to a sort of primal rage I can temporarily ignore pain and fatigue. But as much as I do that, I never really identify (even for a moment) as anything other than what I am. I guess the identification with a particular kind of animal, even a particular breed, is what seems strange to me.
Well, that and the sexuality. As much as they share similarities, I like to keep libido, hunger, and bloodthirst separate.

@8: Pups generally keep to themselves. Furries ruin Pokemon for anyone who uses Google Image Search. Yiff in hell, furfags.

@8, truth, furry twitter is totally a thing
So...updating the old "handkerchief code" thing...does it mean you're one kind of "puppy play" if you have a Milkbone in your back pocket, and another if it's an old tennis ball?
@8, @10

So... wait. Which ones are gay, again? I'm getting a little confused about which social media they're supposed to wear the earring in.
The author certainly hasn't spent much time on fetlife or looking into pet play outside of the gay world if he thinks that is the only universe it is popular. I am very much a puppy here and even though I do identify as bi I know and see so many straight male and female pups out there looking for a good kennel to be locked up in...almost more then I see gay pups even. Nonetheless It is nice to see more articles pop up to expose others that have never heard of puppy play to a new world of fun wruffin goodtimes *wiggle wiggle* - pup @ PupsTail.com
People who live in these populated urban areas, just wow. You will never understand how lucky you are to live around this kind of stuff, always a thousand people within a ten minute walk in your exact niche for you to hang out with. Act like a dog where I live and some drunk asshole will shoot you, end of story. Some of us don't GET to enjoy life, we just have to swallow whatever gets crammed down our throat until we die.

You have no clue how much I resent you all for taking for granted this lifestyle and community that is essentially all i've ever wanted out of life, yet will never get to experience once.
Appears to me some people have too much money, drugs, boredom, and time on their hands. I look forward to kitten play, 'oink oink I'm a piggy' and 'cheep cheep I'm a birdie' in years to come. Displaying a rubber ball in the bar to attract suitors is the funniest thing I've read all week!
@14: Moving isn't an option?
@16 Is poverty and homelessness an option? I have to quit my job to move and it took me longer than I could afford to get this one in the first place. My career and my life both make me miserable but the only alternative is having no career and no life. One does not simply move. One must have work and housing lined up in advance and there's no work left in my province. If I just threw away my current job everyone I know would lynch me, because I'm so "lucky" to have it to begin with and they can't make a living no matter how they try.

That, of course, is exactly how the powers that be want it. They maintain a minimum level of unemployment on purpose and then make those peoples' lives hell, just to keep people like me afraid they'll die if they quit or get fired. As you can see, it works beautifully.

Major life decisions cannot be made based on what your heart wants or else you won't have a life to live. Watched much Game of Thrones lately? It's a great metaphor for our world. Shut up and do what you're told, forget that happiness is a concept that exists, or you will be killed. We just like to do our killing in roundabout ways today, like imprisoning people without jobs or homes and then not feeding them until they starve.

Sorry for such a long angry reply, but this is the world today. It's a living hell. Money is the only thing that matters. We're forced to make what we want and believe such a low priority that you only have time for it after you're dead.

As usual, I wish I'd been smart enough to just keep my mouth shut about my depressing life.
If this is your thing? Fine, cool, it's your thing. But it's hard not to note that kinks used to be about expressing yourself rather than disassociating yourself. Wouldn't it be healthier to actually just learn how to be tender with other humans in an adult human relationship?
I wish the article had talked about the intersection with furries. There has to be one, or a handful, no? Isn't two sides of the same coin? ...all about embracing a personae or your inner you, letting your freak flag fly (I say that in the most non-judgmental way, I swear), and letting go? I am dually intrigued by both subcultures and give folks credit for embracing and expressing who they are. Both pups and furries seem to use the animal/creature/whatever as the vehicle.
@20: I can confirm there is some not-insignificant amount of overlap.

Having experience almost solely on the furry side, i'd say your description sounds adequate - very different things, but the same kind of underlying idea. Furry is just too broad though; it encompasses everything from being the character in real life, to creating them through art, to just observing and appreciating. It ranges from innocent aesthetics to deeply spiritual to purely sexual. Though most live somewhere in the spectrum in between, the divisions between the subgroups can be strained at times.

I can't explain the appeal of the animal side. I've felt the way I do since before I can remember. In my case it's not really an avatar or a means to escape myself, it's simply a representation of what I feel I am internally and how I would comfortably relate to people, given the opportunity to choose. I have a human body but the lifestyle of the modern human is not what I want to experience with my life, and human social graces are not how I want to communicate my mind.

@19, is not the choice to dissociate from one's humanity, still an expression of that humanity? I can think of little so uniquely human as wanting to be something other than what you are.
@12 from my experience, they're both pretty gay :D (but srs, for whatever reason all the furries are on Twitter)
In Seattle, one can be "proud" of almost "liking" anything except dogs. Several decades ago I asked a Seattle PhD Psychologist about people who prefer dogs and he replied, "The dogs don't complain."

If it is acceptable for a white woman to "identifiy" as black, then a human who identifies as a dog should be encouraged to be friendly with dogs. Even very friendly, yes? Why should any Seattle resident object? Especially those want chimps and elephants to have voting rights.

I have always identified with space aliens.
@21 thank you, Khaz. I appreciate your comments.
When I've had a stressful human day, I come home. I remain a human, but am greeted by a REAL dog, my golden retriever. We play together and I find myself laughing out loud and being in the moment. Then when he gets tuckered out, we cuddle on the floor, man and dog. While I do not advocate getting a REAL dog unless you have your head together and can provide and love the dog its entire life, I thought someone should state the obvious fact that millions of people get into a "now" sense of consciousness by relating closely with their REAL pets, rather than pretending to be one.
Re. the gender/sexuality divide in puppy play: I'm a bisexual woman, and I'm pretty confident saying I'm in the pup minority, at least in this city. I've met a scant handful of other pups who are female-bodied or female-identified; I feel pretty safe saying it's a practice firmly rooted in the gay male leather scene. Which isn't to say, of course, that I wouldn't welcome seeing a bit more of it in the bi/het scene; it just, for one reason or another, isn't quite there yet. We puppy bitches certainly look forward to the time when it is!

Chandlersdad says, "...I thought someone should state the obvious fact that millions of people get into a "now" sense of consciousness by relating closely with their REAL pets, rather than pretending to be one."

As an animal care professional, I relate closely to dozens or hundreds of pets (including my own) on a daily basis. I find it infinitely rewarding and wouldn't trade it for the world - in fact, I gave up a lucrative career in software development in order to pursue this as an occupation - but I don't see it as an either/or scenario, EITHER relating closely to domestic animals OR assuming a puppy identity in order to explore a different state of mind. My knowledge of animal behavior and cognition informs my experience as a puppy, and makes me more able to fully immerse in the puppy "experience," as it were.

Khaz says, "is not the choice to dissociate from one's humanity, still an expression of that humanity? I can think of little so uniquely human as wanting to be something other than what you are."

Quite a point to ponder! That said, I don't indulge in puppy play in order to dissociate from my humanity. Instead, I liberate myself, briefly, with the knowledge that humanity still underlies all that I do, and will be there waiting for me when I'm ready to come back. I'd argue that the "ideal" human condition is being able to both voluntarily dissociate from humanity, and accepting the reality of having to go back to being human at the end of the day, without your heart breaking.

Prestow says, "You have no clue how much I resent you all for taking for granted this lifestyle and community that is essentially all i've ever wanted out of life, yet will never get to experience once."

I'm so sorry that you're struggling. I hope your life leads you somewhere you can find joy. I live in this giant crazy silly stupid Seattle city, and not a single day goes by that I don't thank whatever the heck is going on around here for the ability to be myself without getting drawn and quartered. It's a fucking gift, my friend, and I will, for your sake and my sake and the sake of every-damn-one else who's ever looked both ways before holding someone's hand, never take it for granted.
Oh yes, puppy play is nothing new to those of us in the bdsm/kink scene. Collarme and Fetlife introduced me to it and many other kinks when I started exploring back in 2004. You don't get the scoop on all the trends! We have lots of animal play. As a girly submissive I prefer kitten play. It's a more petting, laptime, purring, sensual play and can also be mischievous at times too, depending on the mood. I also lean towards bunny play- very low-key. *meow*
Eh, I can get the attraction of letting it go and having fun cuddles and so forth. Even some of the domination/submission stuff. But you shouldn't have to disassociate yourself to do it.

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