Guide to Responsibility & Communication


A great many Handlers and their human dogs combine dog training, sex, leather, and BDSM into the overall human dog experience. And like all BDSM and leather sex activities, it is a deep bonding experience the participants. It has at its foundation several mutual responsibilities and commitments.

Courtesy- is a major component in our sexual lifestyle There is a formality that comes with being someone’s Master/Trainer slave/pup. I define courtesy as respect and if I don’t respect you then I have no business playing with you and if you don’t respect me then I don’t want you in my life. Courtesy permeates the other (following) responsibilities.

Safety- I will not put my pup in real danger. Your toys and equipment will be hazard free. If you have a health condition that needs care we need to negotiate how to best care for it.

Creativity- If you have saved your money and vacation time to come to me for a weekend or so of dog play you expect to have an interesting, fun time. I owe you the time and energy necessary to make it fun for both Of us…as a friend Of mine said the Other night on the phone- no canned scripts. You have to be detail oriented. For example- “dogs” do their business in role or out a man has to shit. So how do you keep the role going in a small condo in the city? Be creative. If your Master is constantly ignoring your pleas and whimpers at the bathroom door… be creative and tug on his pants leg, bring him your leash, piss on his foot (if you can get away with it). We all need to be creative in finding ways to stay in role until it’s time to drop out.

Patience- An Old dog/slave can and does teach a new Master/Trainer new tricks. Be patient with us when we are fumbling and we learn, but give us a hassle and besides getting your nose slapped you’ll have a miserable time. Trust me.

Honesty- Be honest with me – I may have said I was looking for a 20 year old pup, but you have no way of knowing I really like 50 year old dogs as well. If you lie to me and then disappear we might both lose out. If you tell the truth you might be rejected but if you lie you probably will be as well.

Humor- Boys, face it, in this scene we are playing a game. A wonderful, exhilarating, outrageous game. Have fun with it. Temper your serious, leathermaster face with a smile. My pit bull thinks she is a soft fluffy puppy when I rub her tummy, it brings her joy. She makes me smile, she brings me joy. When “pup” curls up on the sofa with his head in my lap or joyfully licks my face when I bend down to rub his tummy I smile, he brings me joy. If we cannot find laughter in the human dog scene where will we find it? We are responsible for bringing joy to our pups and our Masters…even if it is only for an evening.


Negotiation before playing in any kink scene is an important pre-requisite. The Handler and human dog should discuss limits and boundaries (see below). Discuss what each of you wants to get out of the scene – how does the human dog perceive himself in dog space? Is he more interested in physical or headspace play? Negotiating and discussing one another’s wants and needs before play starts will help to ensure that both parties enjoy the scene to its fullest.

Your Rights in Pup Play

  • 1: You have a right to need things from others. That doesn’t mean that your need will automatically be fulfilled, but you have needs as a pup and your Owner and Trainer and pack can try to fulfil them if they know what you need. Take some time to think about what you actually need, not simply want, from pup play. Then speak up and let others know. 
  • 2: You have a right to put yourself first sometimes. Although you will most likely be Owned as a pup, and in training, you cannot and should never put aside everything else in your life. You are a whole person and you must consider your future beyond simply the fun of being a pup now. There has to be times when you put your priorities first, and having a healthy fulfilled life will mean that you will at times have family, friends, and work commitments. There do not come an automatic second at all times. 
  • 3: You have a right to feel and express your emotions. You should express and not repress yourself pup. Obviously you can share how you feel, but your Owner and Trainer may want to modify your exuberance. It’s their job to watch your pup behaviour, and to help you behave responsibly wherever you are as a pup, without suppressing your expression of feeling. Just keep in mind that feelings and emotions can sometimes be anxious and unhealthy in their expression. You, and everyone else, should feel safe to express themselves in pup play so that means being considerate. 
  • 4: You have the right to be the final judge of your beliefs and accept them as legitimate.Deeper aspects of puphood can involve what it is to be human and behave as one. You can learn and understand the different points of view that will come to the fore of your mind, but you never have to forgo your beliefs or have them mocked. Other people will pass judgement on you, as a pup, as a person. Accept that fact and don’t fret over it. Just because someone has made a judgement doesn’t mean you have to agree with it, or fight it – even if it’s your Owner and Trainer. Before you get caught up in a paradox here, it’s very important to remember that you should do your best to listen to others and consider what they say. You can hear and acknowledge another’s opinion, but you are responsible and solely you, for your own judgements. If you think negatively at times, or have a false idea on how things work in the world, it is up to you to change that. Being exposed to different points of view in pup play gives you an opportunity to examine and think about what beliefs you have and what works best for you. So be open and listen to others, especially your Owner and Trainer. 
  • 5: You have the right to your opinions and convictions. These are different to beliefs. You may believe that all people are equal, but actually have an opinion that stupid people are annoying and so you stick to your conviction that stupid people are best avoided. Be a good pup and listen to and consider others opinions as mentioned in rights number 4. You only have to consider opinions, as you are entitled to present yours and have them considered as well. You don’t have to convince anyone to share your opinions and views either. What you think is what you think. It doesn’t mean you are correct and right in what you think, but it is still yours to have. The same goes for others pup. You have to let them have their opinions even if they can’t explain them to you properly and you remain unconvinced. At the end of the day everyone in the pack has to get along. 
  • 6: You have the right to your experience, even if it’s different from other pups. This is especially relevant to you when mingling in the pup community. Never accept another person diminishing your experience pup, as it is as valid as anyone else’s. 
  • 7: You have the right to protest any treatment or criticism that feels bad to you. Speak up pup if what you are experiencing is painful or distressing. There are definitely some pups and masters who seek hardcore BDSM play, and the idea of protesting treatment may seem counter intuitive. It is not. Although pain and pleasure are part of BDSM, you don’t have to be in distress and fear and pain that you aren’t enjoying or sought. 
  • 8: You have a right to negotiate for change. By speaking up about what you want, your master and others in the pack can begin a dialogue with you about you getting what you need and want. Simply speaking up is not enough pup. You can go further by working with your master and other pups through sensible and calm discussion to change how things are for you. 
  • 9: You have a right to ask for help and emotional support. That doesn’t mean you will always get it, or receive it in the manner you are asking for. What is vitally important here is that you ask for help and assistance. Your Owner and Trainer is there to enrich your life, not diminish it. 
  • 10: You have a right to say no, and saying no doesn’t mean you are bad or selfish. If you don’t want to do something, say no to it pup. 
  • 11: You have a right not to have to justify yourself to others. There will be times your Owner and Trainer will ask you to explain your thinking or reasoning. Of course you will be asked for feedback on lessons at the very least. You already know you have a right to an opinion, and it is perfectly possible to calmly and rationally explain your experience of something in pup play. You can tell your reasons for some behaviour you have pup which can then be heard and acknowledged. 
  • 12: You have a right not to take responsibility for someone else’s problem. Each member of the pack should be sorting his own problems out. The pack works together to give support and care, but each pup has to ensure he doesn’t burden unreasonably anyone else. 
  • 13: You have a right to choose not to respond to a situation. As scenes occur about and around you in pup play, you can and should choose which you wish to emotionally engage in or not. As explained here, each scene, every action in pup play, is yours to get something out of it. If you aren’t getting something out of the moment, you can always step back and relax. 
  • 14: You have a right to occasionally disappoint or inconvenience others. No one is perfect, and mistakes happen. Everyone in the pack should practice tolerance and understanding. For some BDSM masters, failure and mistakes are punishable offences and often viewed as failures by a pup. 
  • 15: You have a right to solve your own problems.Other people, especially your Owner and Trainer are not responsible for solving your problems pup. There will be things your Owner and Trainer can and will help you with, but whenever finding a solution is important it’s better you start solving the problem rather than waiting for your Owner and Trainer to do it for you. You are an adult, and that means not expecting others to fix up your messes. 
  • 16: You have the right to change your mind. Just because you have said something doesn’t mean you have to do it. You always have the right to change your mind. Your Owner and Trainer can be irritated if you do it a lot, but you still have the right to change your mind even after you have chosen to do something. 
  • 17: You have a right not to answer a question. Your Owner and Trainer can ask you anything, but you don’t necessarily have to answer or justify yourself, or even say yes or no. Questions should not be threatening. When you feel a question is hurting you it is not feedback you are being asked to give. So you can see that so far, you have a right to have a life, have thoughts and feelings you call your own, and you can share them and they should be considered. It can be hard to remember this as you engage in obedience to your Owner and Trainer and try to find a place for yourself in the pup world. Be kind to yourself and to others as you assert your rights to be yourself as a human and a pup.

Limits And Boundaries

Limits and boundaries refer to specific physical and emotional limits or triggers which may affect the Handler or the human dog.
Examples include:

  • health problems such as heart conditions and epilepsy
  • eyeglasses, contact lenses, hearing aid devices, orthodontics
  • joint problems, arthritis, artificial limbs, range-of-motion limitations
  • known phobias and emotional hotspots
  • real-life issues such as rape, incest, or past abuse which might trigger an emotional reaction
  • sexual limits, such as an unwillingness to participate in watersports, fisting, anal sex, or bondage
  • safe sex issues
    • are condoms required for oral sex?
    • are condoms required for anal sex?
    • are gloves to be used for ass play?

Limits and boundaries should be discussed before any play begins. Be honest and open with one another during these discussions.


Much has been written on the use of safewords for all sorts of BDSM and role playing. Wiseman describes the use of three safewords – a ‘red’ level word to end the session completely, a ‘yellow’ level word to mean The play is getting too intense for me. Let’s lighten up Or rest for a while,’ and a ‘blue’ level word to mean ‘Please, no more of that.’0 Easton and Liszt remind us that safewords come in many forms, and do not always have to be verbal, or in ‘code.’
Play in human dog space need not, and Often does not, involve bondage or pain. However, this does not diminish the need to have available safewords, especially when the Handler and human dog do not know each other well. Physical or emotional issues may arise which require the human dog to communicate to the Handler such things as:

  • He needs to talk as a human
  • He needs to break out Of his role as dog for some reason perhaps only temporarily
  • He needs to alert the Handler that something is just not right with the scene.

When in role, the human dog does not have use Of human vocabulary and Often does not have use Of his hands – at least not his fingers and thumbs. This makes the use of safewords and some traditional non-verbal safewords more of a challenge for the Handler/human dog team.

Some useful non-verbal safewords for human dog play include squeaking a squeaky toy, specific barking patterns – short barks for ‘yellow,’ three for ‘red’ or some pre-negotiated combination. Barking short Morse code patterns, such as ‘yip-yip-yip woof-woof-woof yip-yip-yip’ for ‘S.O.S.’ are also useful to employ. During the course Of play, the Handler should check in on the human dog’s status simply by asking something along the lines of “How ya doin’ boy?” or even a simple “You OK?”

If the human dog is doing well, he can bark one sharp Woof’ for ‘yes’ or ‘I’m OK.’ Alternatively, we prefer a playful ‘Ggrrrruuuffff!’ A playful growl leading into a ‘ruff’ and vocally trailing Off into the f’s.

This sound is performed enthusiastically almost like the famous ‘Grrrreat!’ Of Tony the Tiger.

If the human dog is not doing well, or if there is a problem, he can bark sharp ‘woof woof’ for ‘no’ or ‘I’m not OK.’ Alternatively, he can whine or whimper to indicate that all is not well.

The ultimate ‘red’ safeword during a dog play scene is for the human dog to break role and use an unmistakably-human vocabulary word, such as “red.” The use Of such a verbal safeword cannot be mistaken by the Handler as anything other than notification to stop play immediately.

Responsible Handlers and human dogs should work out an acceptable and well-understood mechanism for communication of non-verbal safewords before any human dog play or scenes.

Honest Communication

Ask any group of people, regardless of sexual orientation or proclivity, and Odds are that communication – open, straight- forward, honest communication – will be at the top Of almost everyone’s list for ensuring a successful scene or relationship. Such communication is also an ethical responsibility of both the Handler and the human dog.

From the Handler’s perspective, it’s very important to communicate to the human dog what your expectations are, and what his expectations are. This communication should take place up front, before any human dog play is initiated.

The responsibility for communication cuts both ways The human dog has a responsibility to communicate with the Handler as well.

Start by proposing the things you’re interested in, and asking your Top what sorts of things he likes. You want to tell your partner how you get turned on and you want to know how to turn your partner on.

Negotiations must include your limits, and a discussion about practices about safer sex. Let your Top know what you don’t like: individual differences are valid and important.

Start out hot with what you like, tell them the necessities in the middle, and then get hot again with what turns you on .. and you’re ready to play.’