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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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: 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’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)
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)
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.