Pet play on it's own is a simple concept being the role play of an animal where people role play a persona and this persona is an animal.
Popular choices include a puppy or a kitten as they are the most popular household pets (Source). However some choose other animals including horses, foxes, skunks and raccoons. All depending on what individuals feel closest to.
You will find many in the community will mix pet play with many other kinks or fetishes, while some choose keep pet play separate to anything else they do.
Other pet players consider what they do to not be a sexual activity and purely a social or lifestyle activity instead.
Both ends of the spectrum have different opinions, however it is important we accept others enjoy pet play differently to ourselves.
There are many aspects which can be added to pet play to make it more enjoyable, however the basics are to act as the animal persona. We will cover the basics of common "additions" in other topics.
For some, the basic attributes around their persona are a name and their species. Others add some other items such as favourite colour, breed or role that they play.
Some common features people choose to create their persona are:
Name: This is usually a different name to their normal name (but it doesn't have to be).
Species: Are you a puppy or a kitten? There's also horses, raccoons, foxes etc
Colour: This doesn't have to follow the hanky code so your favourite colour is fine. Some do follow the code, but this is much more common in a sexual situation.
Breed: Some choose to identify with a specific breed of their animal. This involves usually being associated with some of the typical characteristics of the breed.
Role: Many choose to play a certain role, typically within a pack for pups, however it isn't something you need. Typically this is any kind of animal structure such as a wolf/dog pack.
If you don't feel like you want to act like an animal, that's fine and there are other roles you can take part in. After all, the History of pet play provides for a "dominant" role.
Many names and slight differences in the role exist, but mostly in pet play there are "handlers", "masters"/"mistress" or just anyone who manages or looks after the animals.
Most commonly those roles can be defined as:
Master/Mistress: This is typically more of a sexual role and alike to a dominant. While care over their pets is important, treating their pets as pets is common.
Owner: This can sit either way and is up to an individual relationship as to how this works with their dynamic.
Handler: This role is typically non sexual and can involve those who don't "own" any specific pets but like looking after them. At events people in this role typically help look after the group as a whole rather than "their" pets.
Sometimes this is in a specific Dominant/Submissive relationship, but in other cases (or both) it can be they simply like looking after pups, kittens and anything in between.
Headspace is the word used to describe the feeling where your mind is in a state where it is fully acting as your animal persona, or purely in the mood for acting it out. Like with most things in pet play, this too has different answers for different people.
For some this can get very deep and very much into it. A similar thing for those more familiar with BDSM is known as "sub-space".
Essentially thinking in the way you would expect your animal to think. This works with the personality of your persona, so for a pup you may be excited and want to play with toys in a simple manor.
Some also find a trigger to help themselves get into their "headspace". This can range from words, to a whistle or for many it is putting on their hood and other gear so they see themselves as their persona.
The way pet players feel in their "headspace" can range massively. Some purely do not respond to their human name or human behaviours and are very deep into their headspace while others may not feel as though they have one at all.