In one TikTok video, Puppy Girl Jenna cheekily begs for food under the table at a cafe before her owner feeds her a scrap of meat. In another, she’s told off for peeing on the floor and is locked in her cage as a punishment. But Jenna isn’t a newly acquired puppy in training. She’s a 21-year-old Texas woman who’s gone viral for her puppy persona, with a growing following on social media and OnlyFans.
I came across Jenna’s video the same way anyone comes across anything on TikTok: by swiping aimlessly through my ForYou page. Since posting her first video in March, Jenna has achieved viral fame and gained 182,700 followers, many of whom supported her monthly income of $10,000 on OnlyFans.
“It’s insane,” Jenna told me over Twitter DMs. “I never thought my weird dog kink would be looked at by a broad audience, or that so many people would like/care about it. It still blows my mind.”
You might have heard of puppy play in the gay community, which first began gaining mainstream notoriety around 2015 with TV shows like Channel 4’s Secret Life of the Human Pups. Jenna is, by her own admission, the most recognisable puppy girl online, but her popularity speaks to a growing trend of straight women partaking in puppy play.
For those who need a refresher, it’s essentially role-playing as a dog by barking, crawling on all fours, wearing a collar or chewing a toy. It’s a fetish rooted in BDSM and previously involved bondage gear like large leather dog masks known as “hoods”, head-to-toe rubber suits and ball gags. It has nothing to do with the harm or abuse of actual dogs. Instead, the fetishisation of a human taking on dog-like attributes.
By contrast, Jenna, like the growing number of cis, heterosexual women dabbling in puppy play, has a far softer approach to the fetish: she doesn’t always wear a hood, harness or accessories like ears or a tail – but straight puppy play does share a few things in common with its gay counterpart.
A 2019 study of gay puppy play fetishists identified a number of reasons participants were drawn in, including relaxation, therapy and escape from the self. Jenna can relate. “I love the feeling of being owned,” she says. “I feel protected and loved. I’m at my most comfortable during puppy play.”
Jenna discovered the fetish when she met another pup at a kink convention in Chicago, a gay man who encouraged her to experiment with the role. She loved it and was “all in”, as she puts it, straight away.
It’s easy to see why straight vanilla-ish couples who have never dipped their toe in the BDSM pool might find leather-covered pups intimidating. But a scaled-back approach to puppy play – like the one adopted by Jenna – appears to have increased its appeal to straight couples.
“I do notice it becoming more common with straight couples,” says Dani, a puppy girl who shares sexy videos with her boyfriend and “owner” Jack online. She believes that removing some aesthetic pet play elements – like hoods and harnesses – has opened the door for more straight couples to experiment.
“I think it's more of a ‘fetish lite’ kind of thing,” she tells VICE over Instagram DMs. “People can indulge in the subculture of pet play without jumping in full force. It’s a more accessible for couples who don't belong to the more intense BDSM culture.”
Dani doesn’t own a big leather hood – she says it’s not her style – but she and Jack have spent an estimated $300 on ears, collars, harnesses, bowls and other puppy gear. The couple find most items on Etsy or in real pet stores, where they make up fictional dogs to get out of awkward conversations with cashiers.
Both Dani and Jenna say that roleplaying as cheeky, loveable pups fit their personalities better than any other more conventional BDSM role. “A dog is my spirit animal,” Jenna says. “It feels more natural than a slave/owner relationship.”
TikTok’s somewhat random algorithm seems to have been instrumental in the meteoric rise of straight puppy play online. I’m not unique in discovering Jenna on my For You page – her videos reached the screens of thousands, piquing the interest of some and confounding others. There’s even a healthy subculture of YouTube reaction videos to Jenna’s clips, featuring straight men acting performatively grossed out (see: TikTok Dog Girl is Going CRAZY and I Bought Your Puppy Girl Jenna’s OnlyFans So You Don’t Have To).
Being mocked online might upset some people. Not Jenna. “I absolutely love those videos. They’re so funny,” she says. Doesn’t she mind being labelled ‘weird’? “No, because it is super weird! It’s usually a big joke. I can tell if it’s mean-spirited or not – and that’s OK too. I’m OK with not everyone understanding it.”
This isn’t necessarily representative of how many men have received the content. In fact, the initial reaction of bewilderment and disgust might belie something a little deeper – like actual arousal.
Shane Gillis, who recently interviewed Jenna on Matt and Shane’s Secret Podcast, said: “You did something to me. I saw something I shouldn’t like, and I was like ‘why is this hot right now?’” It’s a sentiment frequently directed online towards Jenna: men are both confused and turned on.
That’s the other reason why straight female pups are making a splash on the internet – being the first women to carve out a niche is lucrative, and puppy play as a fetish in the straight world is still in its infancy. It’s a lucrative side hustle for those selling content, and can sometimes replace a a regular job, as Jenna, a former optician, found out.
“My revenue has increased 100 times since I moved to puppy play content,” she once told LadBible. “I’m making six figures monthly.” For Dani and Jack, sexy puppy play videos pull in about $400 a month.
But two of the puppy girls that VICE spoke to were keen to point out that the fetish is about more than just surface-level sexual gratification and power games. Both say it’s actually improved their romantic relationships.
One woman – we’ll call her Emily, as she goes only by @DUMBPUPPYGIRL online – told me she had dabbled in puppy play and other fetishes for years before meeting her boyfriend. Adopting puppy and owner roles brought Emily and her boyfriend closer, she says, and reflected the dominant and submissive roles already in their sex life while maintaining a sense of playfulness and affection.
“We have deepened our interest in pet play together over time,” Emily says. “Now it’s part of my daily life, not just sexual. In fact, I wear a collar 24/7 with my puppy tag.”
Likewise, Dani and her partner use the fetish to express affection for one another. “It’s mostly non-sexual in our day-to-day lives,” she says. “It appears strictly sexual online because that's how we choose to present it, but for us, it's pretty much just intimate and affectionate. It's almost childish and just fun by myself and definitely more intimate with my partner.”
Dani wears a collar, plays with dog toys and sometimes even eats pet treats offered by Jack. They’re careful not to do anything too obviously puppy-related outside the house, in case they accidentally involve anyone else without their consent.
The couple have regular jobs while making sexy content online on the side, so Dani puts on her collar or harness to signify a willingness to enter into pet play. If she doesn’t have a collar on, Jack knows she’s just her “regular self”. But once in the middle of play – or a scene, as Jack and Dani refer to it – pups don’t usually talk.
That raises obvious questions – do you bark a safe word? – but the couple have found inventive solutions. “During play, we use barks and whines as a way of communicating,” Dani says. “Jack will ask a yes or no question and then tell me to bark once for no, twice for yes. It helps to keep us immersed in the scene while also providing check-in.”
Jack adds: “We do talk about some things in advance. We’re always discovering new things about each other and ourselves so we just try to keep the communication as consistent as possible.”
For people like Jenna, Emily, Dani and Jack, the fetish seems to fulfils a sense of playfulness that they don’t get with other forms of BDSM. How long before heterosexual puppy play goes mainstream? That remains to be seen, but as the saying goes: every dog has its day.