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For a lot of us, heading to any kind of social event in unfamiliar territory with new people can be pretty stressful. If the event in question is a kinky night for human pups, that level of stress will probably be even higher. What do I wear? How do I act? Will I fit in? The answers to these questions might not be obvious to those pups new to the scene. A lot of the time we might have preconceived notions of what a kinky pup night might entail. Often, these preconceived notions are based on the stereotype that kink is dark, intense, and unforgiving in its adherence to strict rules (*cough cough* 50 Shades of Grey *cough cough*). I’m hoping that this article might help some curious pups to better understand what they can expect at a pup night or a pup mosh.

A bit of background: I’m Pup Dane. I co-administrate the group WoofMTL for human pups in Montreal, where I’ve organize monthly pup nights with our Pup Montreal 2017, Pup Tosa. I’m also the current IPC International Puppy, so I’ve had the privilege to travel around and experience pup events across Canada and the US.

This article is actually based off of a series of questions a curious new pup in Montreal sent to me about our monthly night in the city. Our event is at a private dungeon which allows full nudity and penetrative sex, so this has definitely shaped my answers. Many pup events are not sex focused and/or they take place at venues that do not allow sex. Many pups, in fact, participate in pup play for reasons unrelated to sex and sexuality (for the playfulness or the social connections, etc.). These are all totally acceptable ways of running events and expressing your pup self. When reading this article please keep this in mind!

Note: I’m definitely not perfect, so maybe you will disagree with some of my answers. I would be interested to hear your own thoughts on what you’d add/change!

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Before getting into the questions, I think I’ll preface just by saying that pup play is different for everyone. You can think of it like this: if someone says they’re a dancer, they might do ballet, they might do hip hop, they might do tap dance. All of those are completely valid forms of dance and none are better or worse, or right or wrong, it’s just a matter of personal preference. Some people aren’t even in a recognized form of dance, they just make it up as they go and dance in their kitchen to Taylor Swift – that’s okay too!

Pup play is similar to this. Some people are going to identify more with the submissive aspect of pup play: they want an owner; they want to feel like they are totally submissive to someone. Others are in it more for the playfulness: as a pup you have permission to just crawl around on the ground and act silly; that can be really freeing for some people. Other pups might be in it for the gear: they love how the mask looks and they like leather or latex gear.

All of these are totally valid expressions of pup play. If you don’t like being submissive, or you don’t like crawling on all fours, or you don’t like wearing the pup gear – that’s okay! You can find out what works for you and express your inner pup like that. Or, you might realize that being a puppy isn’t working for you, honestly – that’s okay too!

Now, for your questions:

1 – Can puppies talk? Are there some rules like: “when you have a master you can’t” or “when it’s time to play you can’t” but otherwise you can?

This varies from pup to pup. It depends on your personal preference and sometimes the preference of your handler/owner/dominant (sometimes your dominant may want to give you rules that you cannot speak human words at certain times). A lot of pups I know, myself included, begin to use less people words and more dog sounds when they get deeper into the pup headspace (headspace is this sort of altered mindset where your human thoughts slow down and the puppy sort of instinctively takes over). For me, when I’m on all fours playing with others, or when I have my hood on, or when someone is petting me or scratching behind my ears, that triggers my headspace and makes me a lot more prone to using dog sounds and less human words.

Being able to use human words can be important though – like you should never feel afraid to tell someone to stop, to say no, or to communicate your needs just because you’re in pup mode. Your safety should always come above any kind of immersive pup play you’re trying to explore.

2 – What is the minimum puppy/fetish gear you can wear? (It costs a lot. Could someone be a puppy dressed like a man with shorts and t-shirt?)

You don’t have to have any pup gear to be a pup! Gear is not mandatory at all. I frequently will go to bars in just jeans and a t-shirt and still get into pup mode if I’ve got some friends there.
That said, the gear can be really fun for some people, and it can even be useful for finding your own pup persona. For example, when I first got into pup play, I would wear my hood a lot! The hood covers your face, so you can feel really anonymous, which helped to me release some of my anxiety and inhibitions.

At our pup nights in Montreal, we usually have some extra hoods people can try on. There will be people dressed in leather and rubber gear, but you will not be excluded if you don’t have any gear. If you think you may want to get down on all fours and try out moshing or wrestling then I would suggest wearing some clothes you feel comfortable moving in, maybe even athletic clothes.

3 – How do you act with people? Like, can you run to someone and poke them to get their attention and so they cuddle you? Or do you need to wait for THEM to come to you?

Imagine how a little excited puppy would greet people – that’s how most of the pups I know interact with others! You can definitely approach people and try to get their attention. My caveat here is that, even as a pup, you should respect people’s personal spaces and boundaries. People who are unfamiliar with human pups usually will not react well to a human running up and barking in their face. As well, even people familiar with the pup scene have different boundaries regarding touch/space, so don’t just run up and hump someone’s leg – you should obtain consent first.

When I meet a stranger I usually go up and make eye contact first. I may give them one of my paws, or paw them lightly on the shoulder – something pretty non-invasive. If they respond positively I might lean in and ask to be petted or something like that.

4 – I guess a cute puppy would get more love and/or find a master (if wanted) faster than an ugly puppy or a “low budget” puppy?

Well, let’s realize that cuteness is subjective and different pups/different handlers are looking for different things. The pup community, as with most communities, does have some problems with conventional body image issues. A very fit, muscular pup is probably not going to have a hard time finding someone to play with because that’s how beauty standards have trained us to experience desire. Sadly, the pup community is not some magical place where these stigmas and preconceptions don’t exist. There is a lot of work being done by pups to reduce this stigma and overcome these issues, but they do persist. However, there are a lot of pups with a lot of different body shapes and sizes who play as pups and find a lot of happiness and a lot of connection.

As well, there’s so much fun you can have as a pup without having a master or a handler, just playing with other pups, or finding a new human to scratch or pet you. I always tell new pups that their main goal should not be to find a master – at the beginning you should simply try to find and explore your inner pup. Only once you know what you like as a puppy, will you be able to know what traits a master can have which will complement your own.

5 – How do you find a master?

Note: I’m going to use the term “handler” as well as “master”. Handlers are people who enter into relationships with pups, encouraging them to live out their pup side. It’s a bit of a softer term that doesn’t carry the intensity of a master-slave dynamic.

I think a lot of people come into the BDSM/kink/pup world thinking, “I am a sub, therefore I need to find a Dom.” And then they will meet a Dom and think, “He is a Dom, I am a sub, therefore we will work well together.” This line of thinking can pose some problems. Not all Doms work with all subs, not all handlers work well with all pups. This is sort of like thinking, “I am a gay man, he is a gay man, therefore we will work well together.” There’s so much beyond simply being gay which will define your wants and needs in a relationship.

I think of pup/handler relationships in the same way. You have to figure out what your needs are as a pup before entering into a relationship with a handler. That doesn’t mean you can’t play with Doms or Masters or Handlers – you can definitely arrange one on one play sessions or dog training sessions, just be cautious not to rush into any intense commitments before you really know yourself.

Once you do feel you’re ready for a handler/master, you can find one in a number of ways: at events, online, on the apps (recon, fetlife, etc.). Again, I would advise you to really get to know the other person, meet up, play, discuss what you both want (maybe you want a romantic relationship where you get to go to the movies, but your handler only wants a sex relationship where they get to use you two nights a week). Make sure everything meshes and then go ahead and commit.

6 – When you have a master, do you get like appointments together at their house on the week-end? Or will they be your master only at events or parties?

It totally depends on the person you choose. I was once in a relationship with a handler who really only wanted me to come over to his house and play one or two nights a week. On the other hand, I really wanted our relationship to be more romantic – I wanted to meet his friends and go on dates at restaurants. A few months into the relationship it fell apart because we both wanted different things.

Don’t be afraid to communicate your wants and your needs. This can feel scary, especially if you are a submissive speaking to your dominant (sometimes you feel like you should just obey without question). But, you are a person above all of those other things, and you deserve to be loved and respected and have your needs met. Any good dominant will realize that and will encourage your happiness.

7 – I know it’s not sexual, but I think it could be. Is it hard to find the right master for your needs and wants? If you need a lot of attention, cuddles, love and maybe some sex, is this something easily achievable?

It takes time to find the right master/handler. Just like any partnership: it takes time, you might even have a couple bad relationships, but these can help you learn and grow.

As far as looking for attention, cuddles, love, and maybe some sex: this pretty accurately describes most of the pups in the community – so this is definitely achievable! You can also find attention, cuddles, love and sex outside of a formal master-pup relationship as well. I know lots of pups who will meet up and cuddle and play on their own, or humans and pups who will do that same without ever entering into a formal relationship. It has the potential to be what you need it to be!

8 – Do people and puppies use the color codes (hanky codes)?

Some do, some don’t. The hanky code was developed a few decades ago, so some people more familiar with that history still use it. A lot of pups just like a certain colour, so a lot of their gear will have that colour incorporated. I like red, for example, and I am most certainly not always down for a fisting session.

I always recommend asking. The community is really divided as to who uses the hanky code and who doesn’t, so the only way you can really know is to ask.

9 – Can puppies walk on 2 paws (even inside and during an event/party)?

Yes! You can definitely walk on your hind paws. I would say at an event I am on two legs about 80% of the time and four legs about 20% of the time. Some pups like to be on all fours for longer than that. But, I really only go onto all fours if I want to mosh and play a lot, or if I’m feeling particularly submissive towards someone.

If you come to one of our pup events you’ll see pups really get to decide for themselves when they are on two legs and when they are on four.

Pro-tip: If you think you might wanna get down on four legs, you should definitely consider buying a set of kneepads and UFC gloves. These will help protect your knees and hands when you’re on the ground.

10 – If you are an anxious new puppy who makes mistakes, will you still be loved and educated? Or will you be left on your own, alone in a dark corner?

It’s totally fine if you’re nervous/anxious. It’s stressful to come to your first event like this! I can guarantee that our monthly pup nights are pretty casual. Especially at the start of the night (our events go from 9pm-3am, and sometimes it can get a bit more intense after midnight). Lots of people will just stand around and have a beer and chat with each other. You can come and meet some people and talk without ever having to play. You can sit and watch, you can leave whenever you’d like. It’s all up to you. If you talk to the organizers of your local event then they may be willing to meet you when you arrive and introduce you to some folks, that way you will have someone to talk to when you arrive and you’ll be able to make some friends!

11 – Are trans pups welcome?

Our events are open to pups of all genders, so – yes! – trans pups are definitely welcome. We have a few trans pups who come to our pup nights and I haven’t heard of any problems as of yet. Each event will, of course, have its own rules and boundaries, but most pup events I’ve been too are open to all genders.

Again, I don’t want to give off this image of the pup community being this utopia where transphobia doesn’t exist. The pup community is made up of a lot of cis gay dudes, so there are definitely some transphobic thoughts and individuals out there. I cannot promise that our events or our space will be completely welcoming to everyone and that people will not have negative reactions or experience harassment on the basis of gender identity, or any other identity category for that matter. What I can suggest is that you should feel empowered to communicate with event organizers if you experience any harassment. Generally, those of us who organize events want everyone to be able to have fun together. For this reason, most of us are open to listen to anyone who does experience negativity.

At our event, we strive to implement an organizational model which is (1) preventative: establishing boundaries/rules in advance to encourage playful co-existence; and, (2) responsive: working to respond to and ameliorate issues if and when they do arise.

12 – Are there things you absolutely cannot do? Or are there things you have to do?

My rules are generally based on respect. Respect the other people there – don’t touch, don’t bite, don’t grope without first obtaining consent – and realize that people have different boundaries and different comfort levels. Respect the venue – this is pretty straightforward, we have a generous dungeon hosting us so clean up after yourself and respect their rules. And, respect yourself – you have limits and boundaries – if you’re just trying this out for the first time, you might discover those limits are different than what you expected. You might find you hate some things you fantasize about in your head, and you might find some things turning you on that you’ve never thought of before. That’s great! Along the same line – don’t do anything you don’t wanna do – some people might wanna play, they might wanna touch you, etc. – you have no obligation to play with anyone, no matter how dominant they are or how much gear they’re wearing. You decide your own boundaries and limits.

13 – When going to a pup night for the first time, how does it work?

Our event requires signing up in advance to get the address. This allows us to keep the location of our venue out of public channels. Each event will have its own RSVP procedure.

Most venues should have a place for changing, so you can bring any gear in a bag and then change once you arrive.

For our night, I always recommend that new folks arrive in the earlier part of the night because the atmosphere is more relaxed and social.

14 – Can you be there with someone you know, who doesn’t want to be a master, but just wants to be there for their friend?

At our events – yes! – lots of people come to events who do not identify as a puppy or a handler. Just friends or other kinksters. If you feel like bringing a friend will help you to feel more comfortable then that is absolutely encouraged! Just make sure that they also RSVP so they’ll be able to get in.

Again, check the rules of your local events. Some events might have different requirements. I’m not a big fan of events that have a mandatory gear requirement or a requirement for a pup to be on a leash, but these things are possible.

15 – If you are a very calm and shy puppy who might need to observe without playing for the first few times, but would still need to be cuddle, will you find friends or you’ll be considered boring?

I think you’ll be able to find some friends. At our events there are always lots of people standing around and chatting casually. There’s no obligation to play at any event and there are lots of people willing to give pets and scratches. I think you’ll be surprised that the atmosphere is more relaxed than you expect!

That said, it can take some time to feel comfortable and form some stronger connections. If you don’t meet as many people as you think in the first event, or if you don’t come out feeling like you have a new best friend, that’s alright. It can take a little bit of time to feel comfortable with the community and that’s normal!

There! These are the answers to 15 questions posed to me by a local pup in Montreal. I hope this helps some other pups out there in the world! Please feel free to ask me any follow up questions. You can find me in the Montreal pup group on Facebook: WoofMTL.

Pup Dane is an organizer, educator, and artist based in Montreal, Quebec. He co-organizes the group WoofMTL, Montreal’s local group for human pups and those that love them. Dane holds the title of IPC International Puppy 2018 and previously held the title of Pup Montreal 2016.