Animal Roleplay and Petplay: Is There a Difference?

Animal roleplay can form a fun and interesting part of bedroom play. There are a massive range of tail butt plugs, collars, leads, and almost any kind of accessory you could think of to really get into the character of your chosen animals. It doesn’t have to end in the bedroom though. People the world over enjoy roleplaying as a wide range of animals in all kinds of situations.

The practise of roleplaying has probably existed as long as humans have. From the simple act of a caveman intimidating a predatory animal, to children in the playground. Animal roleplay takes on many, many forms.

Historic Animal Roleplay

Animalistic practises can find many of their roots in some of the practises found in tribal cultures throughout Earth’s history. From the ancient Egyptians personification of Gods as animals, and adoption of their traits, right up to Native Americans, using animal roleplay during their rituals and displays. Which animals were personified vary wildly from tribe to tribe, and tended to be quite a spiritual practise.

Often tribes would revere specific animals, and believed that by honouring their chosen deities they would be blessed or rewarded in some way. Sometimes the rituals might involve animals they intended to hunt instead, allowing them a greater chance of success. Whatever the reason for a tribe’s roleplay, the result was usually of some benefit to the tribe.

Ritualistic practises are still observed to this day in varying degrees. In some parts of the world, particularly less developed ones, many tribes or peoples will still honour their chosen animals. In other parts of the world though, some believe in animal spirits or guides who help them throughout their lives. These people often feel a kinship to their animal spirit, and might exhibit characteristics associated with the animal. It can be intentional, to try and emulate the grace of a swan for example, or even subconscious.

Educational Animal Roleplay

One of the most effective uses of animal roleplay is in an educational function. While the practise is usually reserved for younger children, it is still very effective to help convey somewhat complex messages and ideas to still developing brains. Teachers can take on the animalistic characteristics themselves, passing ideas onto the children, or the children can be instructed to act like animals, helping to build understanding of more complex ideas like teamwork and social interaction.

Recreational Animal Roleplay

Let’s face it. Pretending to be something else for a while is fun! Acting like an animal can bring pleasure in all kinds of situations, be it fancy dress parties, performances, or even just playing games with each other. As long as humans exist, were probably always going to take some joy from pretending to be something that we aren’t.

Sexual Animal Roleplay

While much of roleplay will be for relatively innocent purposes, it also finds its way into the bedroom. The form this takes on can be as varied as any other bedroom activity. It is important to note though, the vast majority of people who engage in sexual animal roleplay don’t do it because they like zoophilia or bestiality.

For some, the roleplay will take on very simple forms. Many couples nuzzle each other in a similar way to lions or tigers. Or rub and stroke certain parts of the body just like they would an animal. Even the ubiquitous doggy style is a type of animal roleplay, performing the sexual act in a way normally associated with an animal. This is the most basic of sexual roleplay, and is entirely physical.

Spirituality plays a role for some. Having the ability to break free of their normal personality, and take on something more suited to their spirit animal can be liberating and freeing. While this kind of roleplay doesn’t need to have much of an impact on the actual act of sex, it can be satisfying for the person doing it, and may change the way they act in subtle ways. For example, someone who associates with a wolf or bear might be a lot rougher in the bedroom than a person associated with a butterfly.

Others will take it much further. These people delve deep into more BDSM aspects of an animal-human relationship, utilising many tools and restraints to restrict their partners actions to that of their chosen animal. It isn’t just physical either. How they choose to treat their partner will often mirror that of the chosen animal, and in some opinions border on abusive.

What is petplay?

Petplay is another variation on animal roleplay that is a little more subtle and hard to explain. One important aspect is that there is a dominant partner and a submissive partner. The dominant will “own” the submissive as their pet, and each party will act according to this agreement.

In petplay, it is important that the boundaries and intentions of the roleplay is set up before starting any sessions. Both parties will want to feel fulfilled and satisfied by the play, and setting up goals and limits of how far things can move beforehand let you know exactly where you stand with each other. This is often done through a formal contract, signed by both parties, and usually containing a safe word which either side can use to stop the play at any time.

A frank discussion before you begin can also be important to establish exactly what sort of petplay you are looking for. Some participants are only looking to get into the “headspace” of an animal role, acting in ways they associate with the animal but not partaking in the entire experience of being owned and ordered by a master. Others will want the full experience, being fed, looked after, and nurtured by their master.

Another interesting facet is deciding which role will actually be taken on. Petplay, unlike animal roleplay, doesn’t just have to involve animals. You can petplay a relationship where both partners are actually human, and this will take on elements of slave-like play, or adopting animal like actions which they feel align with their personality.

Petplay doesn’t even have to contain any BDSM elements. It can simply be an acceptance of an animal role, and taking enjoyment through the process. You don’t have to perform as a real animal, but something from a fantasy universe is also perfectly acceptable.

Headspace

Headspace is a term that you will come across often during petplay. It describes the state of mind you take on when becoming your chosen role. This is a highly personal thing, but for most people it will be an escape from the parts of everyday life that they don’t like and an embracing of a more simple, animalistic life. Fully embracing an animal headspace can leave someone drained, so it’s important to spend some time to recover afterwards.

Types of sexual animal roleplay and petplay

As we’ve discussed, the range of animal personalities people can adopt when roleplaying is vast, and can even encompass mythical beasts which don’t actually exist. Due to this diversity, the people interested in each type of this roleplay tend to loosely group together to share ideas and experiences they have. These are usually grouped loosely into the type of animals, and some of the most common are:

  • Ponyplay: A favourite among many role-players due to the elegance and prestige associated with horses. It allows someone to act as an animal but still be treated like a princess. Will encompass most types of equine animals including things such as unicorns.
  • Pup-play: The go to for dog lovers, pup play covers all of your domesticated household canines as well as some of the wilder variants like wolves.
  • Kitten-play: Just as with dog lovers, cat lovers have their own communities for roleplay. These will again cover your domesticated felines, and wild ones such as tigers and lions.
  • Fox-play: While in many eyes foxes will be part of the dog family, they are different enough to be worth separating. Foxes are one of the favourites among role-players, with all sorts of different fox tails available in varying colours and lengths.
  • Cow/Livestock-play: While less common, there are those who enjoy indulging in the livestock aspects of roleplay. How serious you take this will be up to you, but within communities it isn’t beyond belief that their “cattle” may be traded to other owners.
  • Fantasy-play: This style of play will come down to which fantasy universe you decide to play in. There are countless sites dedicated to My Little Pony, but you might find it a bit more difficult if you enjoy playing as a part of a less popular fantasy franchise.

You’ll probably notice that most of the terms used by these groups are quite infantile, pup and kitten in particular. While it isn’t completely unknown for people to petplay as the adult versions of their chosen animals, it is much more common for them to adopt the child-like version. Being a young animal gives their master much more freedom in “raising” and “training” them, opening up many more roleplaying opportunities.

Examples of petplay

While basic animal roleplay is quite simple to imagine, it can be a little more difficult to picture exactly what happens when people are petplaying. As with most roleplaying, the situation is usually referred to as a “scene”. A petplay scene can be as varied as your imagination, but there are a few common ones which most couples will go through at some point.

Training is where most scenes will begin, and are the primary reason people tend to roleplay as younger animals. The owner will treat their animal just like they would a real pet, and try to make them perform basic actions such as drinking from bowls, being fed by hand, or performing tricks. Should the pet succeed they will usually be rewarded with treats, and if they fail they will be punished.

If you are choosing to bring food into your scenes, be it as treats or as a general part of the fun, you should still only use human food. Pet foods in general are not healthy for humans, so you should find substitutes that look the same instead. Cereal can be a great replacement for dog or cat biscuits, and foods like tuna, soups, and meat based products can looks quite authentic as food for your pet. If a pet particularly enjoys a treat, it can become an important part of your scenes so bearing in mind what your partners preferences are can help when deciding what to use in place of pet food.

Confinement is another aspect of petplay that can be quite common. These can include being chained up, caged, or put on a lead. These restraints help to solidify the pet’s feelings of being owned by their master, and can also make the entire experience feel much more authentic. Any confinement done with a pet though should not be for extended periods of time, and never unattended, as you risk serious physical and psychological harm to the pet.

Some pets and owners like to engage in public displays. Again, this is something that should be thoroughly discussed so both parties are aware what is going to happen. It doesn’t just have to be a matter of walking through town with your partner on a lead though. All over the world there are festivals where owners and pets can attend and take part in various displays and competitions. These are most common with ponyplay enthusiasts due to the dressage nature of owning a horse.

Of course, sex can also be a part of a petplay relationship. If you choose to adopt this part, then it should be made clear beforehand whether the pet is acting as a human, or their animal persona during the encounter. Many people will be comfortable with adopting pet like qualities in the bedroom, but some might not like the idea of actually having sex with an animal.

All of these aspects form a part of the submissive partners ownership by the dominant master. How far you take this is entirely up to you. Some like it to be a more playful, casual experience, only engaging in it occasionally or to perform certain scenes. Others will adopt it completely, surrendering all of their rights to the dominant partner and giving their owner complete control of their lives for extended periods of time.

Finding a pet

However, you choose to go about the roleplay itself, you should be sure that both parties are entirely on the same page. Having a mismatch can not only make the whole experience less enjoyable for everyone, it can also make things unpleasant, or even dangerous.

If you are seeking to go into this relationship on either side, have an honest and frank discussion with your partner. You might not do everything you want to straight away, but build it up over time so each side is comfortable with how far you are progressing. If you find the right person you might be able to jump right in at the deep end.

Whichever way it works out, always have a safe word in place, and never force your partner to do things they aren’t comfortable with. That isn’t roleplay, it’s just abuse. Proper roleplay will leave both sides feeling fulfilled, satisfied, and in some cases, sexually pleased.