Puppy play is a subculture within BDSM whereby people roleplay as either a pup or handler (or dog owner). The pups get their kicks from acting like a biological puppy, while the handler looks after, plays with and dominates the dog. For some human pups, it's about dressing in leather, wearing dog-like masks, playing with toys, eating out of dog bowls and enjoying the power dynamic between pet and boss, animal and human, dog and owner. We spoke to a Sydney-based Dominatrix who specialises in puppy play, as well as one of her human pups, to get the low down on why people are sniffing out the pup life and what you should consider before running out to buy a collar.
Hello Mistress Anna. What do you enjoy about training human pups?
Human pups have this carefree, fun, youthful puppy energy that I get to absorb when I’m with them. Pups are always in the moment. Being around them reminds me to have fun and play. On the flip side, I enjoy the discipline and dominance of puppy training. The same discipline needs to be promoted when training any dog. Human dogs need to learn the basics – to sit, heel and come. The training keeps the FemDom in me happy and having that control over the person and puppy I’m playing with.
Let’s say a brand new pup has approached you to be trained. What does an initial puppy training session look like?
I would sit down with the pup and negotiate. Much like with any scene, we need to discuss from the grown-up. What are their hard limits? What interests them? What are they comfortable with? What have they done before? What would they like to explore? I also need to know the health and medical information about who I’m playing with so we can play safely. Once that’s all out of the way, the grounding foundation of pup play is obedience and standard dog training. The pup will be taught to sit, stand and kneel. He will get used to wearing a collar and being on a lead. With that being said, every handler has different ways they like to play with their pups. What happens from here depends... For example, Shiro is my service pup and that’s been in our negotiations. Some pups might not want to be in service – they might purely want to just play like pups.
What’s a service pup?
Service pups are very helpful. When I’m with Shiro and he’s in service pup mode, he might drive the car to the event. It’s general chivalry. He’ll open the door and carry my bags. At the photoshoot, he held my mirror while I did my makeup. When he’s not in service and he has time off, he runs around with his friends being a puppy.
Is there a typical expectation for how a pup must dress when they’re in pup mode?
No! It really depends on what the pup wants to wear. Shiro is a leather pup. He likes to wear leather hoods and leather collar. A lot of leather pups like to wear leather harnesses because that’s a sign of the leather community. Some wear tails. Then there’s neoprene pups and rubber pups. There are even flesh pups – puppies who just want to be in their everyday clothes. It’s a personal choice, really.
“When we go out, I’m his Dominant but I’m also his protector – much like with a real dog. He’s in service to me but I’ll look out for him and make sure he’s safe”
Do pups have different personalities? Do you get a lot of naughty pups in the dungeon?
You definitely get the bratty pups. Shiro isn’t a naughty pup. He’s polite and cheeky, but pretty well-behaved. But I definitely have met the odd puppy that’s a little too playful. I find that most of the pups I meet are shy and introverted when they’re not in pup mode. It’s when they’ve ‘pupped up’ and are wearing their pup gear that they feel more bold and can relax into their pup persona.
Is being a pup a sexual thing?
It depends. For some pups, definitely, but for many, it’s a persona and a way to be carefree.
I noticed during the photoshoot that some of the pups were quite affectionate to each other when they were pupped up. Is that a pup thing?
Definitely. It’s similar to the way dogs sniff each other. Dogs are sociable – they like to be near you and each other. They’ll follow you around just to be close to you. With that being said, like real pups, some pups don’t like other dogs and are more lone wolves. It really depends on the pup’s personality.
What makes you a good pup trainer?
I enjoy it and have the patience for it. The FemDom in me loves the discipline, required obedience and training that comes with puppy play.
What do you enjoy about being Shiro’s handler?
When I first met Shiro, he’d already been through service training, so I learnt a lot from him. It’s been really easy and natural. Shiro is happy, playful and a bit silly – it’s fun to be around. When we go out, I’m his Dominant but I’m also his protector – much like with a real dog. He’s in service to me but I’ll look out for him and make sure he’s safe. We’ve been to events before and everyone wants to pat the puppy and sometimes I have to step in and make sure he’s not being mobbed. It’s never one sided. Like any good relationship, you have to make sure you’re both getting what you want from that relationship.
How can people explore puppy play with you?
I’m always looking for new pups to train... Come see me and I’ll put you through your puppy paces. Contact me through my website mistressanna.info.
chasing tail: a quick chat with Sydney-based Human Puppy — Shiro
Hi Shiro. What do human pups get out of puppy play?
Everyone gets something different out of it. Some do it to escape the trials of everyday life. I’m a bit of an introvert and have social anxiety, so I use it to help me socialise. When I go to parties and I’m pupped up, people will approach me and go, “Oh you’re really cute!”. It’s easier for me to interact. Others do it for erotic reasons. So they might only be pups in the bedroom but you’ll never see them being a pup outside. For me, I’m a show pup. I love being on show at parties and events.
How long have you been into puppy play?
Just over a year. But I have a pup family and my Alpha has been doing it for over eight years.
What’s the difference between an Alpha and a handler?
In relation to a normal wolf pack, you’d have a dominant wolf who sort of leads the pack. They’re the Alpha. They’re essentially the leader. My Alpha is the reason I became a pup and I learned everything from him. I emulate his behaviours. Alphas are more like role models and leaders who are pups, whereas handlers are more like owners who aren’t pups. When I’m with Mistress Anna, she is my handler and I consider myself her service pup. When we are out together, like at parties for events, I help her like a service dog would. I do things for her to make her life easier.
How do people go about exploring pup play?
A lot of people find out they are pups and they have been for years but just haven’t classified themselves as pups. It’s only when someone says, “Your behaviour is similar to a pup,” and they think, “Well, what’s a pup?”. So they do a bit of research and realise that they’re actually a pup and they’ve been a pup for a while but have never classified themselves as one. It’s not until they’ve been exposed to pups that they put the dots together for themselves. I would suggest curious or new pups check out SYD-PAH on Facebook.
SYD-PAH stands for Sydney Pups & Handlers. You can join the group on Facebook if you’re interested in connecting with like-minded people and pups. Otherwise, have a look online for our local Pups and Handlers group. That’s a great way to meet others who have been doing it for a while.