Just about everyone loves dogs, cats, rabbits, bears, pandas, puppies, kittens, bunnies, cubs, colts, and other critters. These animals are happy, they play, they have fun, they live in the moment and for the moment.
So, it’s no wonder that people enjoy finding their inner animal and experiencing that same feeling of joy and endless exuberance, that “pet play”! Because, well, why not? They can escape from the stresses of daily life, reframe their experiences, and even strengthen their sense of self and reclaim power.
Pet play can also be a form of exotic role-play, in which one or more of the participants takes on the role of a real or imaginary animal, including appropriate mannerisms and behaviors. Other participants in the role-play may take on the roles of other animals, or of the owner, trainer, rider, or caretaker of the animal(s).
Some pets belong to packs or herds, some have one owner, and some are strays. Some have pet names for their pet personas. Some animals belong to specific breeds. Common types of pet play may include puppy play, kitten play, and pony play. Common types of pet activity may include petting, grooming, and obedience training. And, of course, this is not an exhaustive list. There is really no end to the ways that pets manifest themselves.
There can be a Dominant/submission (D/s) dynamic involved, with one pet being dominant or submissive to another. For those already in a D/s relationship, pet play can enhance a D/s dynamic, or it can flip the roles where the Dominant becomes a little animal that needs tending to, and the submissive takes on the role of caregiver.
Why do people engage in pet play?
People engage in pet play for many reasons, ranging from loss of inhibitions associated with that animal nature to taking on a role which allows for nurturing and a change from the usual roles in everyday life. In some cases, pet play is simply a loving, quiet, cuddling time where there is no need for verbalizations, and the simple act of petting, cuddling, and holding the other person is satisfying and reassuring.
Researchers identify five main rationales for engagement in pet play.
- adult play and vibrant physicality
- relaxation and escaping from self
- extending and expressing selfhood
- sexual pleasure
- relationship and community benefits
However, there are many other reasons, too; each person has a unique relationship with the pet within.
What does this all mean?
It means pet play is normal and, if you are involved in pet play, you are normal, too. It means there are many people like you. It means there is a wonderful part of you that is worth exploring and sharing.
What is Psychotherapy all about?
The short answer: we provide talk therapy.
The longer answer: Read More
Note: Because we are licensed and registered in California, we are only able to provide our services to clients within the state of California. If you are located outside of CA, you will need to find a therapist who is licensed or registered in that state or country.
If you want to talk about your pet-ness with a therapist, or if you want to talk about yourself and your relationships without your therapist stumbling over the fact that you are into pet play—in any capacity—we can help!
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