Skip to main content

What a good boy! These video games let you pet dogs — and other animals

Video games are filled with senseless competition and violence, as players often engage in battles with artificial intelligence, as well as fellow human beings. It can be a stressful experience for even the most hardened video game warriors, and at the end of the day, it’s nice to just forget about the kingdom you need to save and pet a good dog. Luckily, plenty of game developers feel the same way, as there are several titles available that let you pet your pup – or pup-like creature – possibly while you reassure it in a baby-like voice. Plus, 2018 is the Year of the Dog according to the Chinese zodiac, so we want to make sure you know you can celebrate with video games that let you pet very good pups.

‘Watch Dogs 2’ (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC)

Watch Dogs 2 - Doggyland Trophy / Achievement Guide (Dog Location)

Despite having the word “dogs” right in the title, the original Watch Dogs didn’t actually feature any canines. For shame. Thankfully, Ubisoft rectified this issue in the superior sequel, Watch Dogs 2, and added a ton of pleasant puppies to the streets of San Francisco for you to play with.

Pressing the “pet” button next to a dog will cause your character, Marcus, to kneel down and give the dog the pets and scratches it deserves, accompanied by a few lines of elated dialogue. You’ll come across big, lumbering “tough guy” dogs, as well as tiny lap dogs, but as anyone with a small dog knows, little ones are the quickest to alert you to someone’s presence.

‘Metal Gear Solid V’ (Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, PC)

D-Dog (aka DD) as a Puppy - Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain features a few different sidekick characters who can give you additional abilities during your missions. They’re all useful, but none are as adorable and deadly as D-Dog. Initially found as a puppy, D-Dog can pull a knife out of his own combat vest and brutally murder a nearby soldier while you sit and wait. When he returns, you can give him a loving pet. You’ll find him running around Mother Base while you’re busy managing your troops.

He’s a lovable and deadly character, but you have to be careful when petting D-Dog. Accidentally press the wrong button, and Big Boss will slap the poor pup instead. The noise D-Dog makes will break your heart, and you’ll never want to put him in harm’s way again.

‘Far Cry Primal’ (Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC)

Petting All Tamed Animals In Far Cry Primal

Technically, there aren’t any “dogs” in Far Cry Primal. However, there are wolves that you can tame, and since dogs descended from wolves and share similar DNA, we’re going to look the other way. As a Beast Master, you have the ability to tame wild animals, and when they’re by your side, you can press a button to lean down to not only pet their head, but give them glorious chin scratches.

It’s easy to forget that wolves are killing machines more than willing to eat your face off should you wrong them, but Far Cry Primal has made us a little more willing to give one a snuggle.

‘Fable III’ (Xbox 360, PC)

Fable 3 New Dog Breed!

The Fable series prides itself on player freedom, and with that freedom comes the ability to own a furry canine friend. In Fable III, you can level up your dog’s combat prowess, but he’s also a great friend to have around when you want to relax. By whistling at Man’s Best Friend — that’s what he’s called across the trilogy —  you can open up a menu with the ability to play fetch or give your dog a well-earned pet.

But your dog in Fable III isn’t content to just sit down and wait for you to rub its head. Instead, it leaps into your arms in a beautiful display of love, even licking your face for good measure.

‘Fallout 4’ (Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC)

Fallout 4 Pet-Feed-Call Dogmeat mod

Bethesda’s Fallout 4 features a very good German shepherd with a very bad name: Dogmeat. He loves you unconditionally and is undeterred by the obstacles that get in his way, which is why it is so depressing that the base game doesn’t allow you to pet him at all.

Thankfully, some smart Fallout 4 fans have corrected this mistake.

A mod called “Pet-Feed-Call Dogmeat,” which you can download on PC and Xbox One, adds a third-person animation allowing you to pet Dogmeat’s head and stare lovingly into his eyes. The mod also allows you to toss him treats so he knows what a good boy he truly is.

‘Valiant Hearts: The Great War’ (Android, iOS, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, PC)

Valiant Hearts Good Doggy Achievement

Valiant Hearts: The Great War is an underrated gem that tells the story of World War I from several participants’ perspectives, and one of them is an adorable canine medic named Walt. Near the beginning of the game, you’ll be playing as French soldier Emile when you run into Walt, and you can earn a quick achievement just by giving the brave dog a quick pet.

‘The Last Guardian’ (PlayStation 4)

The Last Guardian™: Petting Trico for the first time.

The Last Guardian’s titular character Trico isn’t really a dog – he’s basically a combination of a dog, a bird, and a cat – but his dedication to protecting his newfound friend and his love of treats are more doglike than most of the other actual dogs we see in video games. With a furry face and a nose just begging for pets, we’ll consider him an honorary dog, and petting him is actually a crucial gameplay element.

When Trico is injured or frightened, he can begin to lose control and make things difficult. To fix the issue, all you have to do is climb on top of your furry and feathered friend and pet him a few times, and he’ll calm down and allow you to direct him toward objects in the environment again. Many of the game’s most emotional moments come when you’re petting him, and we’d be satisfied if that were the entirety of the game.

‘Nintendogs + Cats’ (Nintendo 3DS)

5 minutes of me petting a random Corgi on Nintendogs

Nintendogs + Cats lets you live out the fantasy of owning a dog, complete with the ability to give baths, take the furry fellow for a walk, and even give it food and water like a complicated Tamagotchi. Of course, the game also allows you to pet your loving virtual canine with the Nintendo 3DS stylus, and once you start petting, you can keep going for as long as you like.

If you want to use your time more wisely, you can also brush your dog to remove dirt and build up your “Owner Points.”  Frankly, we think a few good chin scratches and pats on the top of the head are more effective, whether or not they have any produce any meaningful in-game results.

Honorable mention: ‘Pet the Pup at the Party’ (PC, Mac)

Pet the Pup at the Party | 10 Pup Speedrun | 5:45

Every other game on our list features the ability to pet dogs, but only Pet the Pup at the Party’s sole goal is to pet a dog. The game can be downloaded for a price of your choice, and it features 52 different dogs to pet at a party. All you have to do is follow the sound of barking until you find your new friend.

“Petting” the dog really consists of you just waving your hand in the air a little bit, but the dogs react with glee nonetheless. If ever there were a game that could inspire humanity to do good in the world, that game is Pet the Pup at the Party.

Gabe Gurwin
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Gabe Gurwin has been playing games since 1997, beginning with the N64 and the Super Nintendo. He began his journalism career…
One year later, Marvel Snap is my favorite mobile game of all time
Marvel Snap card list.

One year ago today, I gained access to the closed beta for an intriguing mobile collectible card game called Marvel Snap. I’d flirted with collectible card games (CCGs) like it before, but had dropped off titles like Hearthstone and Legends of Runeterra due to problems with their structure, monetization, and complexity. Within a few matches of Marvel Snap, I saw how disruptive it was into the CCG genre, circumventing many of my problems with it. I’ve been hooked ever since.
In the year since I first played Marvel Snap, rarely does a day go by where I don’t log in. On the first anniversary of its beta, I’m confident enough in the game to declare that it has become not only my preferred CCG to play, but my favorite mobile game of all time.
Why Marvel Snap stands out
Marvel Snap has been praised a lot, especially after it saw a wider release in October 2022, and everything said about it is true. It’s much faster-paced than most card games, as it’s only six turns and both people in a match play cards at the same time. This makes rounds enthralling across all six turns and quick enough that I never play only one battle when I boot Marvel Snap up. Couple that with all the potential deck builds that can be played and possible locations that can spawn during a game, and each Marvel Snap match feels very different from one another. They can be fun, frustrating, and even funny.

That’s even the case if you’re using the same deck for a while. For quite a long time, I was using a Patriot and Mystique deck that powered up cards with no abilities. As developer Second Dinner continued to introduce new cards, I started to experiment with different types of decks, like a Morbius/M.O.D.O.K. discard-focused deck, a Collector/Devil Dinosaur one where the goal is to get as many cards into my hand as possible, and most recently, a High Evolutionary/Hazmat setup that unlocks the secret abilities of some cards and greatly debuffs the enemy.
After a while in Hearthstone and Legends of Runeterra, I’d feel limited in the decks I could build and the viable enough strategies I could use. Neither are issues for me in Marvel Snap. Even when certain decks dominate the high-level metagame, that doesn’t mean other types of decks aren’t viable. Additionally, the number of recognizable characters turned in the cards encourages me to experiment with and use them.
There’s also the fact that I have an inherent familiarity with the cards I use. While I casually enjoy the worlds franchises like Warcraft and League of Legends occupy, I am less familiar with them than the Marvel Universe, and thus less excited when I pull a creature that I know nothing about. As a die-hard comics fan, though, I get excited each time I earn a new character in Marvel Snap. This game also allows me to play with weirder, obscure characters -- like Hell Cow, Orka, Aero, Darkhawk, or The Infinaut -- that are extremely unlikely to ever appear in a more traditional video game.
Good cards also aren’t usually locked behind paywalls, but that’s not to say Marvel Snap’s microtransactions are perfect. The $100 offers in the store are eye-raising, but I don't feel punished for not spending.
And unlike many mobile games, Marvel Snap’s progression is fair and engaging. Daily and seasonal challenges exist to keep players coming back and they refresh often enough that it’s usually worth booting up Marvel Snap a couple of times a day whenever I have a break. The objectives are all achievable enough for those with good knowledge of the game’s systems and they reward ample credits so you typically can upgrade a card or move up a tier in the battle pass within a day.

Read more
The best GTA characters of all-time
The protagonists of GTA V pose for the camera.

Ever since the GTA franchise became what it is today with Grand Theft Auto 3, Rockstar has packed their worlds full of colorful and rich characters. While we've only been able to control male characters up until now (though that is set to change if the GTA 6 rumors are true), they have all had distinct and interesting personalities and stories. That said, sometimes it's the side characters that can steal the show too. Looking back at the entire series, we've come up with our picks for the best GTA characters of all time.
Carl 'CJ' Johnson -- GTA: San Andreas

Good old Carl Johnson, better known as CJ, is way more than just a meme. San Andreas was the second game in the series to really focus on character in a major way, and the team nailed it with their lead. Not only was the entire cast filled with bonafide actors, but CJ's personal story as a gang member whose mother is murdered was far more nuanced and emotional than the media would lead you to believe. The real draw was the relationship CJ had with the main antagonist Officer Tenpenny (who may or may not be mentioned later on). This game set the standard for how Rockstar would reveal more about the characters and world through casual conversation throughout the story.
Tommy Vercetti -- GTA: Vice City

Read more
Alan Wake 2: release date, trailers, gameplay, preorder, and more
Alan Wake.

The original Alan Wake is a game that went through quite a troubled development before it was finally released. After many iterations and changes in scope and direction, the final product was initially a cult hit but didn't hit the mass market it needed -- at least not initially. After two DLC episodes, a sequel was in the works to build upon the first game and revive some of the elements that had to be cut from the first in order for it to ship, but this was ultimately not meant to be. The sequel was canceled and a smaller downloadable game, Alan Wake's American Nightmare, was released instead.

Since then, we hadn't heard from our intrepid writer until he showed up in a very unlikely place. Featured in the AWE expansion for a completely different game, Control, Alan was back in the picture. With a remaster of the initial game catching everyone up on his first appearance, now was the perfect time to announce that the long-awaited sequel was back in development. We haven't found all the manuscript pages yet, but here is everything we know about Alan Wake 2.
Release date

Read more