Personal development with Pet Play
Pet Play is a great way to help someone build attributes that they desire in themselves. When I say ‘someone’, I mean the Pet, because in this article I am writing from the perspective of the Top. In Pet Play, the Top could also be called the Trainer, Handler, Mistress, Master or Owner.
I Top in a servicey way because I want to be of service to my Bottoms. The way I like to be of service professionally, is in helping people to achieve their personal development goals. I like to help my Bottom achieve their hopes and dreams. For example, a person might wish that they were more confident so that they could engage in more fulfilling social interactions, and eventually find a romantic partner. In this article I will talk about how I use Pet Play as an activity that helps to elicit the best that a person wants to come from themselves.
Fun encourages learning
Before I talk a little about the basics of what Pet Play is and how to do it, I want to address BDSM stereotypes. Common portrayals of BDSM are that it is serious, sexual, involves physical pain and/or humiliation. By contrast, my way of playing with Pets is to make it fun and light-hearted, because I think that fun encourages learning and therefore personal growth. There are many reasons to engage in BDSM and that is why there are so many expressions of it. In my opinion, there is no right or wrong (so long as there is consent), only what works and what doesn’t work (according to desired outcomes).
This comment from a viewer of my Youtube channel sums up the type of headspace that I think encourages a Pet to learn about themselves:
“I agree with your definition of pet play. I identify as a kitten which does not account for s3xual play but more on a mental space of happiness and contentment… I have not explored how to bring in the s3xual element but it’s not something I am eager to just open to it”
If you cast your mind back to a time when you successfully learned something new – either a skill or some knowledge – you were probably happy and at ease. Maybe you can even remember a time when you were playing around or having fun and had an “aha!” moment or managed to solve a problem. Learning does not always have to be goal-oriented or focussed on achievement. When you are playing and having fun, you might be learning indirectly in an embodied way through how you feel when doing different activities.
What is Pet Play
Pet Play is a type of BDSM role play that usually involves some form of Dominant/submissive or Top/Bottom dynamic. For example, two people might allocate the roles of Trainer and Pet between themselves. There does not have to be a power dynamic though, since a Pet could play by themselves, or a group of un-Owned or ‘stray’ Pets could play with each other.
Let’s consider the type of Pet Play between a Top and a Bottom. In this type of Pet Play, structure will be agreed, like rules and basic commands to be obeyed by the Pet. Ideally, each person will understand how to play their role within the agreed structure, so that they get to feel how they want to feel.
The Pet will adopt the behaviour and mannerisms of an animal such as a Puppy or a Kitten. The Top will give them tasks to do and might reward or punish them for success or failure respectively. Even punishments can be fun if they are discussed and agreed in advance. A Puppy might enjoy being spanked and deliberately get a task wrong to receive the ‘punishment’.
I have created a feature-length course that is available online from https://bdsm-training-school-fetish.com/courses/introduction-to-pet-play which provides much more of a detailed outline about how to get started with Pet Play if you’re new to it, or how to approach it in a way that focuses on emotional pay-offs, since that’s how I like to do things.
With any type of BDSM play, it is important for participants to understand each other’s boundaries. For example, a Pet might not want to experience degrading language, but might be happy to be spanked. A Top might not want any sexual contact, such as their genitals being sniffed by their Pet. How touch is given and received should be agreed in advance. A system of safe communication can be implemented so that each participant knows:
- when to stop
- how to see if each other are ok
- that they are in choice.
Why would you want to try Pet Play?
I have heard a variety of reasons from Pets about why they like Pet Play, which I will list below so that you can read and decide if there is a resonance for you or not:
- to be attentive to your Top
- to be given opportunities to do well
- to feel playful
- to relax because someone else is in control
- to be mindful and focused
- to please your Top
- to be the centre of attention
- to receive physical affection
- to show off
- to feel special
What about reasons for a Top to try Pet Play? Well, from my perspective, I like it because I get to:
- be nurturing
- create fun activities that entertain me and my Pet
- encourage my Pet to pay attention
- share a sense of playfulness
- be a bit silly
- be respected and obeyed
- be indulged in what I ask my Pet to do
- be adored
- derive a sense of satisfaction from my Pet’s pleasure
- experience vicarious enjoyment
If you love animals, you might love Pet Play
You could translate both of those lists to many other types of BDSM play. What is it that about Pet Play that appeals to me in particular? Perhaps it is my love of animals and pets. One of my Pet clients remarked to me once when I mentioned my cat “so that’s why you’re so good at playing with Pets!” and maybe there is something in that. I have had an affinity for animals for as long as I can remember. My first word was “duck”. I grew up with many pet cats and dogs. There were a couple of rats, some rabbits, and some fish. I was even lucky enough to inherit a pony. I spent some time living on a farm and I was in nature a lot playing by myself and with the animals, so it is not surprising that it comes naturally for me to relate to animals. My love for animals has perhaps translated into Pet Play as a form of BDSM that holds a special place in my heart. I like talking to animals because they can’t talk back!
If you are neurodivergent, you might love Pet Play
I am neurodivergent too and can be quite insular or at other times ‘scatter-brained’, so as a Pet I enjoy the opportunity to be non-verbal and express how I feel with my body and sounds, without the filter of language. I have other neurodiverse friends who relate to this aspect of Pet Play, because for a time they can be free of the burden of words. If you have ADHD, the Pet headspace can be quite freeing because you can focus on your Trainer and the physicality might be reassuring to you.
Overall, my Pets tend to report a sense of groundedess, feeling at home in themselves, in a space and in my presence. What I get out of it, is a warm-fuzzy feeling from the temporary bond that is generated through the medium of play.
At the beginning of this article, I proposed that Pet Play can help a Pet build personal attributes that they desire in themselves, such as confidence. How does that work? Well, I think that unconditional positive regard goes a long way towards helping someone build confidence. Imagine you are a Pet, and you are being given opportunities to work out what is being asked of you by being given basic commands. You successfully execute the tricks and receive praise and petting. That feels good and you derive a sense of warmth and satisfaction. You feel accepted and cared for. You will also have broken through the what I think of as the ‘embarrassment-barrier’ that often prevents people from trying new things that might be fun because they feel self-conscious. If you get used to being on all fours acting-out your Puppy persona, I’m pretty sure you will have gained confidence from all the positive reinforcement and fun experiences in that space.
A capable, engaged, and empathetic Top who approaches Pet Play to build up their Pet, will work with their Pet to create scenes that:
- weave in choice
- incorporate small, doable steps
- are based on a shared map or shared intentions
- build in celebration and aftercare
My experience of Pet Play is a shared sense of understanding and trust that everything is ok. Who wouldn’t want that?