A new documentary that debuted on the U.K.'s Channel 4 on Wednesday explores The Secret Life of Human Pups, men who live the life of a dog under the guidance of a handler or trainer.
The documentary claims the subculture is 10,000 strong in the U.K. and that some members are ready to "go mainstream." Tom, aka Spot, a central figure in the show and Mr Puppy Europe contestant, told the Guardian's Nell Frizzell that "puppy play is about more than just outfits and surface-level power games: it’s about being given license to behave in a way that feels natural, even primal."
The documentary explores the variety of pup play and the personalities of the men featured. And they are largely men. As Frizzell explains, "While the pup community is a broad church, human pups tend to be male, gay, have an interest in dressing in leather, wear dog-like hoods, enjoy tactile interactions like stomach rubbing or ear tickling, play with toys, eat out of bowls and are often in a relationship with their human 'handlers'."