1. Have a cutthroat competitive instinct? Leave it at home.
Let’s face it: we are a sub-group of a sub-group of a sub-group. This is not IML, nor are you vying for Miss America. Compete for the chance to meet other pups, challenge yourself, and represent your community. If you are “in it to win it” you are implicitly saying that the pup world can’t survive without you. It can. Besides, the friends you make will last a lot longer than any title.
2. Make sure you want this.
Titleholders have a substantial responsibility. It will largely be up to you to make the year what you want it to be. Ask yourself: Do I have the time and funds to put into this right now? Do I want to spend my pup events volunteering, selling, and helping other pups, rather than moshing, socializing, and getting off? Am I comfortable going person-to-person selling raffle tickets, drink specials, and merchandise to support various organizations and my travel fund? The answer needs to be Yes, Yes, Yes!
3. Learn and review your puppy fundamentals.
Even after a year of record organizing for pups, much of the kink and leather community doesn’t know much about us. Your judges may have minimal knowledge of pup play. They want to understand and you have to tell them. Do you know the physical and mental health risks of pup play and how to mitigate them? Are you aware of the many different types of pups: submissives, pack animals, alphas, gear pups, and so on and can you speak for them? The starting reference point is Woof! Perspectives into the Erotic Care and Training of the Human Dog (Boner Books), but that is only a start. Do your research!
4. Remember: this is a fetish.
Despite all the lovely squirrels, dog catchers, squeaky toys, and new bedazzled collars, most of us first found pup play as simply erotic. Likewise, you will have to share a little bit of your sexuality during the competition, as you feel comfortable. The good news is that there is no “right” answer here. Earnestly consider why you got into pup play, what kind of play is hot to you, and don’t be afraid to share some of that both during your interview and onstage through your pup behavior. It can be really empowering.
5. Recognize your strengths and celebrate them.
I love being a pup because as a pup I am totally free to be my kinky, twisted, crazy self. Whether you are an alpha or omega, whether you love moshes or serving, whether you identify with a breed or are just a guy who likes to get animalistic with other guys, whether you are young or old, chubby, skinny, muscular, aggressive, shy, male, female, straight, gay, bi, trans, white, pink, or purple, you are valuable to our community. We do not and should not all act the same way. Be an original, on and off stage!
6. Sobriety or no: think about it.
I strongly consider the use of mind-altering substances (including alcohol and cigarettes) to be a matter of personal choice. That being said, I do not recommend doing anything of the sort before a competition. Firstly, many people don’t realize how physically demanding pup play is. Would you go for a run or lift weights drunk? Secondly, your competition will likely last 3+ hours. Your buzz will wear off by the end and you will become either lethargic, or cranky, or both: HOT! Finally, you may do something inappropriate on stage that would embarrass yourself and your community. Ask yourself: How much pup pride do I really have if I can only pup out under the influence?
7. Be a player on your own time.
We are a sex-positive community; however, pup titles are not players’ titles. You do not need to do anything shameless, unsafe, or slutty to be an excellent competitor, and you should not.
8. Consider your gear.
This is easier for those of us who are more fetish-y, of course. I could spend hours – or days – perusing and selecting gear! But, more practically, you will have to present yourself onstage and your look will have an impact on the judges. I do not recommend buying a bunch of new stuff, nor do I recommend “hiding” yourself behind your gear. Rather, choose gear that amplifies your pup-sonality, show your knowledge of safety through appropriate kneepads, etc., and make sure your stuff is clean and well fitting. If you should wear hot boots or sneakers, I thank you in advance for the boner I’m going to pop.
9. Get to know the event organizers and ask questions.
Make sure you know exactly what is expected of you during the competition. You may be surprised to find out that you have other obligations besides simply competing. You may book travel home on Sunday morning and not realize there is a ”Victory Brunch” scheduled into the afternoon! Give yourself a generous amount of time to gear up for every event and take it easy between events. Most importantly, never hesitate to ask specific questions before, during, and even after the competition. If you go in feeling prepared, you will be more relaxed and…
10. Have fun!
Win or lose, remember: this is about having FUN! Although we all want to do our best, we also have limitations, insecurities, and health needs that must be respected. Do not do anything that makes you uncomfortable. Do not do anything that you don’t feel physically or emotionally ready to do. If you are worrying more than you are laughing, you aren’t competing right. Remember: you are doing this for yourself and your community. Good luck to all of this year’s competitors. You make us all proud!
Written by Greg Axel Bowers on the Facebook Group Puppy 101
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