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Event Guidelines

Think of a mosh as a place where pups romp, wrestle, and play with each other. At times the designated “Active Area” space can become quite rough-and-tumble compared to the designated smaller “Quiet Area” space where quieter, shy pups go to play more gently, hang out, and cool down and rest from the Active Area.

To ensure a safe and fun time for all participants, there are precautions and general things to remember before entering a puppy mosh. Frequently what can occur when someone enters their headspace is they seem/appear to forget all logic and act on instinct. By following the below guidelines and rules, everyone should be able to have a fun experience without learning the hard way.


Note that the term “pup” encompasses a variety of different types of human canine enthusiasts. There are plenty of wolves, dogs, hounds and everything in between in our community. The term pup is used for the sake of brevity. Likewise, the term “Handler” is used to denote Handlers, Owners, Trainers, Puppy-sitters, etc.

Things to know ahead of time and what to bring/wear for an enjoyable event:

We are all here to experience pup play, but areas of interest and levels of experience differ. We ask that everyone observe the following guidelines and rules for group pup and Handler interaction.

  1. Handlers, handle only those who want to be handled. Don’t try to dominate those who do not want to be dominated.

  2. Pups, give clear signs/indications of interest or not to those trying to interact with you.

  3. Pups, do not be disrespectful to other attendees in regards to personal space (e.g. biting, sniffing, humping, etc.) unless you have spoken prior to the person you interact with or they have given clear signals that they are okay with this activity.

  4. Handlers, please don’t be disrespectful of pups by hitting, swatting, tugging on tails, etc. unless you have spoken prior to them and they are okay with this activity.

  5. Any participants that have a medical or other health issues that might affect the puppy mosh, make sure to inform the host.

  6. We know all participants at a puppy mosh are in different head spaces. We must all serve as our pups' and Handlers' keepers, for their safety and our own. If you see an activity you feel is truly harmful or dangerous, please notify the host at once.

  7. If the host asks you to stop an activity, do so at once. If you disagree with the appraisal of the situation, discuss it quietly in private or later.

  8. Some pups and/or Handlers like group activities/participants. If you want to join an interaction already in progress, don’t just butt in but don’t just go away either. Indicate your interest in joining them and see what their reaction is, either via body language or spoke communications, and react accordingly.

  9. Observe the policies of the space.

  10. If someone asks you to pup out with them or Handle them, try your very best to say yes. You might discover a great experience and a potential friend!

Other things to know…

  • What NOT to wear, if possible, items that have a tendency to get caught, damaged or can cause injury to others. Anything with spikes, studs or lots of zippers on it (collars, wristbands, belts, etc.). Loose metal or plastic chains (harnesses, restraints, etc.) otherwise basic collars are okay. Belts, watches, bracelets, earrings, exposed body jewelry, etc. as these have a tendency to get caught when romping. If you choose to wear exposed body jewelry tape it down with medical tape. Please be aware the host and participants are not responsible for damage, loss or injury due to your neglect. If the host sees anything he thinks that a pup or Handler is wearing that may cause harm/injury, they may be asked that item be removed or the participant to leave the area. Please respect the decision as it is for the safety of everyone.

  • Wear something that is comfortable and cool. Wrestling singlets, spandex clothes, shorts or cloth jockstraps. Latex or neoprene is not advised due to the possibility of them being torn or damaged from the rough interaction that can occur.

  • Soft-soled footwear is required to avoid injury, and that includes tennis shoes, Vibram/Skele-toes “toe shoes,” surf walker shoes, martial arts shoes, and wrestling shoes. It is advisable to have some form of foot gear to avoid getting abrasions/burns along the top of your feet from moving around on all fours. Hard-soled boots are not allowed in the puppy play areas.

  • Wear hand protection. This helps to keep a pup’s hands restrained, preventing them from being used like human hands, while also helping to protect their hands and knuckles from harm or “rug burn” as they romp around on the floor. Padded puppy paws or mitts, MMA gloves and even a couple pair of socks duct taped onto the hands can work. There are several paws/mitts on the market, and personal preference usually guides this purchase. A pups hands should be massaged after removing them from the restraint as hand cramping can occur, and massages feel really good, too!

  • Wear kneepads. A quality pair of kneepads will help keep your knees from being chewed up and allow for longer play. There is no “perfect” kneepad for pup play on the market; all will need adjustment at some point from a Handler or another participant when romping. When looking for a pair, keep in mind you want flexibility and comfort with some form of shock absorption (gel or thick foam rubber) or gel/hard case kneecap protection on the front, as well as a mesh or no backing to reduce bunching/chaffing behind the knee. (Kneepads used in mixed martial arts, volleyball, or skateboarding/roller blading are commonplace.) Kneepads used for stationary kneeling (like for groundwork or floor installation) are no good for pup play, as they slide off due from movement. Note that knee pads with straps can also be problematic, cutting into the legs when romping. Remember: knees are very fragile parts of the human body and constant wear and tear on these joints can lead to permanent damage, which is something we want to discourage and avoid.

  • Know your toy. Every pup needs some good chew toys to chase. The best toys are soft and easy to clean, for example, toys made of durable memory foam, tooth-rugged nylon, vinyl squeaky toys or empty plastic bottles. Be wary of toys made with fur or plush (stuffed animals) or felt (like a tennis ball), as they get matted and dirty quickly, usually don’t feel/taste good in the mouth, and are more likely to transmit blood unknowingly. Hard toys like bones, rawhide, or hard rubber shouldn’t be used since human teeth are not as strong or secure as dog teeth. Beware of toys with sharp edges, pointed surfaces, small parts (choking hazard) or flaking paint on toys. Keep an eye on toys that are wearing down such as a rubber pull toy that might break and cause injury. Rope toys are okay but should not be tugged on hard. Handlers should inspect toys form time-to-time, especially in a multi-pup situation, for any signs of blood.

  • Health conditions. All health conditions should be discussed ahead of time. If you take medications, make sure that the pup play will not interfere with taking them (remember, Handlers or the host can give pups medication while in pup headspace). If you have a bad knee, bad back, asthma, high blood pressure, heart condition or any other health concern or physical limitations, please disclose it with your Handler, the host or on-site EMT before you engage in any physical activity. If you have something like a rescue inhaler or allergy injector, give it to your Handler, the host or on-site EMT so that it will be there in case it’s needed. By using common sense you can usually work around these issues and still have fun pupping out.

  • Food allergies. Unfortunately some attendees have food allergies and these should be discussed ahead of time with your Handler or the host so appropriate action may be taken. Please be aware that giving out an “innocent treat” in the social area or pup mosh may be potentially harmful to someone, either from first-hand or second-hand interactions (food in mouth gets on toy, toy gets picked up by another, who then gets food contact and an allergic reaction). Please refrain from bringing bananas, nuts, chocolate, honey Graham crackers, mustard, etc. as snacks. If you are unsure or have a concern, please contact the host ahead of time.

  • Stay hydrated. Active pups use an abundant amount of aerobic/cardio energy when running around on all fours (romping, chasing, fetching) and need water or diluted replenishment drinks to replenish the loss due to the sweaty exertion. If you feel thirsty, stop and drink water, diluted drinks or other similar liquids. Long straws are a great help or water bowls with built-in sippy straws work great for those wearing hoods.

  • Take breaks occasionally. Make sure you are not overdoing it. If you feel dizzy or really tired, stop and rest for a short while.

  • Blood or injuries. Don’t keep playing in the mosh pit if you notice you are bleeding. Stop, get cleaned up and bandaged before going back in. All mosh pits should have a first aid kit, band aids and/or an EMT available on-site.

Advice for the Handlers and mosh pit observers:

  • Think of it as being at a real dog park. Some pups are owned, others aren’t. Look for a collar or tag on the pup. Offer your hand and call them over. If they don’t respond, shake their head no or turn away, move on to another pup (they may be owned and don’t have permission or they just aren’t interested). If they nuzzle your hand or your leg, then feel free to play with the pup! Unlike other kink scenes, others are usually welcomed and may even enhance the experience! Be aware you may get knocked over or attacked and end up down in the mosh pit at some point. In fact, pups love it when Handlers get down on their level and engage them. Handlers and Trainers are not only responsible for their pups, but if they see an issue they need to either bring it to the attention of the pup’s Handler or to the host. Pups very much get into headspace in the mosh pit and sometimes they may not realize they have hurt themselves, that they have been romping for hours and need a drink or need to take a little break.

  • Talk with the pup before they go into the mosh pit. Safety is the first priority! If you do happen to meet or find a pup while socializing, or one seems interested in interacting with you as a Handler, take the time to ask the pup some basic questions before you engage in pup and Handler activities: How long are you wanting the interaction to last as Handler and pup? What do you want to do? What are their and your limits/expectations? What are the event organizers limits/expectations? Communicate each others desires, needs and wants ahead of time before entering the party or puppy mosh so everyone involved will have a fun time.

Conflict resolution policy:

Conflict can arise in any group setting, including at SF K9 Unit events, between people who come to our events and use pup-related communication channels. Conflict is best resolved by the people directly involved. Some strategies include:


  • avoidance (leaving the scene of the conflict, even if only a short distance)

  • containment (not allowing the conflict to escalate)

  • compromise (both parties get some of what they want)

  • accommodation (one party grants the other their requests)


If conflict involves a participant at a SF K9 Unit event violating our rules on the mats, please contact the Play Monitor or any Board Member that is present. Participants that repeatedly break the rules will be asked to leave the mat area. You can contact the Board of Directors by emailing


Since our events are held in third party venues, the SF K9 Unit is limited in its ability to remove participants from the venue itself, unless the participant is breaking the rules of the venue. This becomes a matter to take up with the venue.


If you feel physically threatened, suffering from a violation of a restraining order, or the victim of someone breaking the law, you may contact law enforcement to report the behavior.

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