What is BDSM Pet Play?

Pet play is a more-common-than-you-think kink that involves a kind of BDSM role play where the submissive enters a behavioral or mental state of the animal (or pet) they have chosen or feel connected to. The dominant (sometimes referred to as the handler or owner) takes on the role of caretaker. 

While many people may not know what pet play is or judge it based on preconceived notions, it’s actually quite a broad term for a collection of preferences that exist within a niche kink. 

Pet play, like most things, is a spectrum...
How pet-play is carried out is deeply specific to the people involved, as with most other role-playing kinks. For some, pet play is about imitating the actions of an animal (crawling on all fours, being hand-fed or pet, wearing a collar, etc). And for others, it takes a more in-depth approach, where the submissive is totally encompassed in their animal persona, perhaps even wearing masks or prosthetics to more closely resemble and animal they’ve chosen.

BDSM can be an intricate part of pet play. For example, there can be, as you imagine, a lot of dominance and submission tied into this role play. Similarly, there can be a hint of degradation involved, if that’s something that the pair have determined to be part of the role play. The caretaker or Master (the dominant) may restrict the pet (the submissive) like an animal, putting them in a cage or forcing them to use a litter box rather than a human toilet, if this is something that has been agreed upon first. 

Why is pet play appealing?

While it may be a foreign and strange concept to some, there are actually many reasons why pet play is appealing. If you’re interested in dominance and submission or have enjoyed a bit of erotic humiliation in the past, I think you will see some parallels to the pet play kink while we’re discussing why this is popular.

So...why do people like pet play?

Deeper levels of submission and ownership. 
While pet play can be intensely intertwined in a D/s relationship, it’s important to note that it doesn’t always have to be. I will jump into some of the misconceptions around this kink later, but for now, let’s focus on the cases where pet play IS incorporated into D/s play. 

Acting as someone’s pet can be an incredibly intimate thing that adds even more dominance and submission to your dynamic. The submissive may enjoy being led around on a collar and leash, forced to re-enact certain animalistic activities (like being in a cage, eating from a bowl on the ground, etc). Meanwhile, the dominant may enjoy the caretaker/owner role they are given over their pet. 

Consensual humiliation/degradation. 
While some couples enjoy pet play as an endearing type of roleplay, many people use it as a humiliation/degradation tactic. The dominant (owner) and the submissive (pet) will establish rules as to what the dominant is allowed to “force” the submissive to do while they are in pet mode. This can be things like crawling on all fours, eating off the floor, being put in a cage, using a litterbox, etc. People who are interested in this kind of pet play may want to consider outlining their expectations and rules in a BDSM contract first. 

Leash and collar play, but more.
This kink, like many others, can be accidentally stumbled into. For example, let’s say you (as a submissive) have been collared and leashed by your dominant in a D/s setting. Then, let’s say, you began to enjoy being bossed around, made to act certain ways and do certain things while on that collar and leash. It’s not a large jump from there, then, to attempt a pet play scenario. 

Letting it all go. 
Kinkly explains it really well by saying: “Animal play allows participants to break free of their human existence and take on another personality.”

One of the reasons people enjoy role-playing (in general, as anything) is that it is a form of escapism. It allows them to become someone (or something) else, to let go of the fear, stress, worry, and responsibilities of daily life and just be free. In this case, perhaps freely as a cute little kitten or a mischievous pup. 

Misconceptions & the truth about pet play…

There are quite a few misconceptions floating around out there about any kind of play that has to do with animals...furries, pet play, you name it, there are likely stereotypes floating around about the kind of people who enjoy these things. 

This is a judgment-free zone, as always. I think, much of the time, the things that people judge harshly are just things they haven’t actually taken the time to understand. To better understand this kink, let’s smash some myths and find the truth, shall we?

While it could be a bestiality alternative, it often has absolutely nothing to do with bestiality. 
Many people assume that pet or animal play is a “more tame” version of bestiality (where a human has sex with an animal). While some people do consider pet play to be a more acceptable way to live out their erotic human/animal fantasies, much of the time pet play has nothing to do with bestiality. 

Many people who enjoy this kink aren’t actually interested in having sex with animals, they simply enjoy the role play. They enjoy the feeling of acting as a pet, they enjoy the attention of their owner, they enjoy the freedom of taking on another persona. 

It doesn’t have to be a serious fetish. 
Many people assume pet play is some intense niche kink where everyone who enjoys it needs to be wearing leather pup masks and fox-tail butt plugs all the time - but this is like any kink or fetish, there are layers to it. People like this for many different reasons and choose to incorporate it into their sex life in a variety of different ways. Additionally, as with many other kinks, the ways you can get into it (and your affinity for it) can be endless. 

People who are into pet play do it all the time. 
Pet play, although widely judged in some spaces, is just like any other kink...sometimes you’re in the mood for it and sometimes you’re not. People who enjoy pet play don’t always incorporate it into sex. While it is a fetish for some people, meaning they can’t achieve sexual satisfaction without it, for many, many others, it’s a kink that they enjoy from time to time. 

It’s not a solo kink. 
Similarly to how being collared is always associated with a coupled D/s relationship, there is this notion that all pets are “owned” by their dominant. While this is the case most of the time, there are many people who can still enjoy pet play on their own. There are many ways you can incorporate pet play into your solo sex life. Not all people who enjoy pet play are in D/s relationships - some simply enjoy the persona and acts of their chosen pet and incorporate that into their masturbation life through solo roleplay, porn, audio stories, etc. 

What is the difference between furries and pet play?

Talking about furries was one of the first real in-depth articles I ever wrote on a topic I knew absolutely nothing about, and to say it was eye-opening was an understatement. I, like many others, had prejudged what I thought the furry community was about. Now, my judgments were not necessarily harmful or negative, but it really isn’t right to judge something we know nothing about. 

So...what is the difference between pet play and furries? Are there any similarities?

The main difference between furries and people who enjoy pet play is that furries often desire a total embodiment of the animal they feel connected to, whereas pet play is more of a roleplay scenario that is re-enacted in certain BDSM situations. 

Furries really connect with animals in a spiritual and/or emotional way, often spending thousands on furry costumes to best embody the animal. Additionally, furries have what they call a “fursona”, which is essentially who they are as a person in form of their animal. Many people in the furry community can identify with anthropomorphized animals (animals who are a mixture of a human and animal, such as werewolves, for example). 

Essentially, with furries, it’s about the embodiment of an animal they feel connected to, whereas, with pet play, it’s more about the behaviors, the dynamic between pet and owner, and the roleplaying of an animal. 

When it comes to how these two things are similar, there are more broad things, such as the adoration of animals, the emotional connection one feels towards a certain animal, and the idea that letting go and becoming a pet/animal is a freeing and rewarding experience.

If you’re interested in reading more about furries, click here

What sex toys can you use during pet play?

Kinks and toys, right? Whether you’re into submission and are shopping for a new paddle to be spanked with, into dominance and are searching for the perfect outfit to command authority, or are into feet and want your partner to have perfectly pedicured toes, there are always ways to enhance the attraction to certain types of kink. 

With pet play, there are quite a few sex toys that can amplify things...

Tail butt plugs…
Butt plugs with tails are all the rage. No, really...I know quite a few people (even people who aren’t interested in pet play on the regular) who have tailed butt plugs. Why? Maybe because they are really quite adorable. 

This White Rabbit Fur Bunny Tail is one of my favorites, but some other common ones include foxtails, ponytails, and even puppy tails.

Humblers…
According to Kinkly, a humbler is a type of physical restraint predominantly used in the practice of cock and ball torture. The humbler consists of a testicle cuff which is mounted at the midpoint of a bar that sits at the base of the butt, between the man’s thighs. The name, “humbler”, comes from the position that the person must stay in (a crouched or “humble” position) while wearing the device in order to stay comfortable. 

This can be used during pet play as a training tactic or punishment.

Bondage mitts or boots…
Bondage mitts and boots are two things I personally had no idea existed, but they are things that can even more so amplify the pet-play scene. These Puppy Paw Fist Mitts, these Leather Knee Pads and these Molded Latex Pony Hoofs are all examples of mitts and/or boots that can be used during pet play to ensure the submissive is totally embodying the pet they have chosen to portray. 

Gags…
While some hoods and masks you can buy already have gags in them, there are also some pet play gags you can buy separately. This is a good idea for someone who is new to pet play and would like to experience part of pet behavior without splurging on an expensive mask/hood or full outfit. 

Some common gags for pet play include bit gags (like this one), and trainer gags, like this one.

Leashes and collars…
While I wrote an entire article on choosing the right collar for your D/s play, choosing a collar and leash for pet play can be a totally different experience. Some prefer to go with a simple chain leash/leather collar combo (like this one), whereas others prefer to go more intense, like this Alpha Dog collar.

Choosing what kind of collar and leash you use for pet play can be a fun and unique thing to experience with your dom, ultimately bringing pet and Master even closer together when it’s time to play. 

Full pet masks and more…
When it comes to masks, muzzles and hoods,these things tend to be a bit more expensive and are meant for people who want to take things to the next level. For example, this Vondage K9 Muzzle (with a removable ball gag) is stunning, and $228.00 USD and this Leather Dog Hood (with snap on muzzle, blindfold and gag) is a full-faced enclosure that is $348.00 USD. 

For some, the more authentic, stunning and intense the pet play costume is, the better. However, if you’re new to pet play and want to try something a little less intense and a little more affordable, you can go with a more simple look, like a leash and collar set or a tailed butt-plug.

Additionally, the owner (or Master) may want to implore the use of riding crops or whips to encourage (and/or punish) their pet.

How can I incorporate pet play into my sex life?

Pet play is such a unique, fun, and personal sub-culture in BDSM, and deciding how you will incorporate this into your sex life can be just as much fun. If you’re interested in pet play, take a look at some of the most common ways people include the kink into their playtime. 

Common animals/pets people choose to portray include: 

  • Puppy/dogs
  • Kitty/cats 
  • Pony 
  • Pig
  • Bunny

Some of the things you can do with your owner include: 

  • Various tricks on command (sit, stay, fetch, etc) 
  • Being pet and/or scratched 
  • Begging for treats or affection
  • Playing with toys often associated with that animal (a ball for pup play, a scratch post for kitty play, etc) 
  • Restricted movement (bondage)
  • Restricted verbal communication (or actually making pet noises such as meowing or barking)
  • Being led around by a collar and leash on all fours 
  • Wearing butt plugs with an animal tail 
  • Eating human food that’s made to look like animal food (or eating animal food) from bowls on the floor
  • Sleeping in or being put in a cage or pet bed 

How does one choose an animal during pet play? 
Choosing your animal can be a unique part of pet play. Typically, the submissive decides which animal they would like to portray based on a connection they feel with that animal. However, sometimes the animal is decided upon together by a dominant and submissive, depending on the submissive’s traits. For example, if the submissive is loyal, perhaps puppy play is a good way to go. If the submissive tends to be a bit bratty and mischievous, kitty pet play might be more suited to them. 

Sometimes (less commonly), the dominant chooses for the submissive (of course, with the submissive’s consent). Sometimes this is used as a “punishment” - for example, if the submissive enjoys being treated like a kitten, the dominant may choose to have them act like a pup for a session. 

Let’s talk about safety during pet play…

As with any other BDSM activity, safety is paramount. Maintaining safety during a pet play scene may look a little different than what you’re used to, though.

Let’s start with a few basics.

Eating animal food...is it safe? 
For some people, the more authentic the pet roleplay, the better...and this could potentially include eating animal food. But is this really safe to do? In small quantities, maybe, depending on the type of food and the ingredients in the food. However, there are always alternatives to animal food that you can prepare beforehand (and even make to look like animal food) to use in your scenes. 

These things can include mashed meatloaf or baking human-edible dog treats and using those as “rewards”, for example. 

Collars and leashes…safety, first.
There are always guidelines to follow if you and your submissive are engaging in collar and leash play. Ensure the collar isn’t too tight. If you’re using a training dog collar (where the more pull on the collar, the tighter it gets), please keep this in mind and have scissors on hand just in case you need to cut the collar off. 

In that “pet” state of mind…let’s talk about pet play subspace.
Something for the dominant in the scene to be extremely aware of is that pet play subspace, for a submissive, can be an incredibly vulnerable place. Not only are they in a subspace, which is naturally a vulnerable, intense and emotional place to be, but they are embodying an animal they are connected to. This may mean extra responsibility on you (the dominant) to ensure they are well cared for and come out of the subspace in a healthy, natural way after the scene has ended.

Wearing hoods and being caged...how to do it safely.
Some of the more intense pet play scenes may involve one partner wearing a “hood” (an animal mask most of the time made of leather or faux leather), or have the pet be put into a cage or crate. Both of these things, while intricate parts of the pet play scene, can be a little dangerous. 

While wearing hoods or masks, ensure your submissive at all tims is able to breathe properly. Don’t wear them for extremely extended periods of time and always have a safe gesture (in case words aren’t able to be spoken) that your submissive can give to let you know they need a break. 

Additionally, some hoods come with mouth or ball gags, so keeping in mind that under that hood your submissive may be gagged is important.

With cages and crates, you want to remember that these spaces weren’t designed for grown humans. Things can be very cramped in there, which may be part of the point (if caging your pet is part of a punishment), but keep in mind that they should never be in there too long to avoid injury or aches to muscles and joints. 

Helpful resources for pet play enthusiasts

I am certainly no expert on pet play, so my research for this article was quite extensive. During this time, I have come across some particularly helpful resourced for those who are interested in incorporating pet play into their sex life. 

Everything You Need to Know About Pet Play - Daily Dot
Pet Play 101 - Lovense
Submissive Guide: Pet Play
Pet Play, BDSM and Bondage - Loveplugs
Pet Play - Limits Unleashed
The Psychology of Puppy Play (a study)