While cats may take center stage in the world of cozy gaming, developers love throwing dogs into their games almost as much as players enjoy petting them. Over the years, we’ve got a wealth of video games that let you engage with dogs to varying degrees.
Since I got a dog myself, I’ve noticed video dogs more often, in part because my dog is kind of obsessed with Scratch from Baldur’s Gate 3. But since there’s an entire Twitter account dedicated to rating games based on whether or not you can pet the dog, I know it’s not just me who enjoys a little canine companionship while I’m trying to save the world or make the coziest bathhouse. But while many games feature dogs, some give you more enjoyable pets than others, which is why I’m here to rank games where you can pet the dog based on just how much fun it is to interact with the virtual pup.
15. Stardew Valley
Cozy pixel game Stardew Valley lets you interact with farm animals, but you can also adopt a pet to keep you company on your farm. Players can choose either a dog or a cat to adopt during character creation, and you’ll later receive the pet when Marnie stops by with it. There are three different styles of dogs to choose between. You’ll see your dog around the farm, including in your house, ready to cuddle.
Technically, you’re petting the dog whenever you interact with it, showing a little heart. However, you don’t really see the petting happen, and the dog doesn’t do much else, so this one isn’t super high on our list.
In Spirittea, you build relationships with a variety of local townsfolk, and two of them are of the canine variety. Maru and Jan are two cute pups you can befriend by interacting with them, and Jan even gives you a tour of the town early on. When you reach a new friendship level, the dogs will also give you adorably dog-like gifts like the newspaper, making this a slightly more satisfying virtual dog pet than some other “click-to-pet” games.
Even though you can be their friend, the petting mechanic here is simply clicking on the dog and getting a little heart and bark in response, so it’s not the most satisfying experience around.
There’s a fair number of dogs hanging around Skyrim, from unnamed Stray Dogs to Meeko, the shack-dweller, to the bizarre talking dog Barbas. You can adopt stray dogs so long as you have a home for them to live in, and even Meeko can become a pet if you have the Hearthfire DLC. Interactions with dogs are limited and don’t include petting in the base game. However, thanks to a mod called “Pet the Dogs,” you can indeed pet the canine companions you adopt.
As companions, dogs will rush into battle as melee warriors, which means you risk losing them for good. Meeko, for instance, isn’t a particularly strong fighter, but that doesn’t stop him from trying.
12. Fallout 4
Dogmeat is a consistent feature throughout the Fallout franchise, with a new dog of the same name featured in each installment. This very good boy is a fan favorite and has his own list of accolades for being one of the best canine companions to grace the virtual world. In Fallout 4, the developers made sure Dogmeat could never die in the game, thus resolving many a sad experience from previous games.
For all the fan love, Bethesda still hasn’t let players pet dog meat. Thankfully, players took this into their own hands and developed a mod called Pet-Call-Feed Dogmeat, which lets you pet the very good boy and give him treats.
11. WarioWare Move It
WarioWare Move It is chock full of minigames that inspire you to get up and use your joycon to act out a variety of actions in real life. And yes, one of those actions is petting an adorable duo of cuddly critters. In one of the minigames, you simultaneously pet a dog with one hand and a cat with the other.
Plus points for the satisfaction of acting out the pets in real life, but of course, this is but one amongst many minigames, so it’s not a huge part of gameplay.
10. Luigi’s Mansion 3
Have you ever wanted to pet a ghost dog? Well, Luigi’s Mansion 3 lets you live that dream with the adorable ghostly canine Polterpup. This dog was a bit of a thorn in Luigi’s side when he first entered the franchise, but in Luigi’s Mansion 3, he returns as Luigi’s beloved pet. That means you can pet the spirit dog from early on in the game. He’s actually a bit of a guide/tutorial assistant along the way, making him a very helpful dog indeed.
Given that Polterpup is already a ghost and this is a Nintendo game, we can rest assured that no real harm will come to Polterpup.
9. Monster Hunter Rise
In Monster Hunter Rise, players have a dog companion known as a Palamute. These canine friends are entirely customisable so your dog can look the way you like. Similar to other games that feature combat and canines, your Palamute will help you out in battle. When foes aren’t around, you can interact with the dog by giving it a treat, asking it to shake, or giving it some pets. This is a relatively small feature in the game and isn’t quite as realistic as newer animations, but it’s still pretty satisfying.
As a bonus, the dog doesn’t die. If your beloved friend gets injured in battle, it’ll simply vanish from the fight until it heals.
8. Marvel’s Avengers
Lucky the Pizza Dog, canine companion to Hawkeye, plays a rather significant role in the story of Marvel’s Avengers. After you complete a certain quest in the game, Lucky will move into The Chimera outpost. At this point, not only can you pet Lucky, but you can pet him as any and all members of the Avengers team in the game. Each character has their own special animation for how they pet the dog, giving you a good bit of fun as you answer the question of how the mightiest heroes would pet a pup.
Without getting spoilery, there are some scary moments in the game for Lucky that could be stressful, but ultimately this isn’t a game where the dog dies, so you can rest assured there.
7. Final Fantasy XVI
Final Fantasy XVI features a dog named Torgal, who serves as the main character’s companion and who you can very much pet. Torgal helps you out in combat and can even guide you around the world, and there’s an entire in-game feature dedicated to giving this good boy the pets he deserves. Much like Scratch, he makes some realistic noises of thanks while being petted and wags his tail. This gameplay feature passes the test for making my dog wonder when another pup entered the house, and it looks pretty good on screen as well.
It doesn’t appear that Torgal can die in combat, though there are some cutscenes where he gets injured, which knocks this game down a peg for the stressed-out pet lovers among us. Nevertheless, this one ranks high amongst pettable pups in video games.
6. Alan Wake 2
The dog in Alan Wake 2 may not have the biggest role, but it’s a fun one nevertheless. Early in the game, you’ll see campaign posters for Mayor Setter, who is revealed to be a dog when you stop by for a meet and greet. During your audience with the dignified dog mayor, you can give him pets. This is an A+ addition to a game that’s otherwise pretty serious business.
We’d rank Mayer Setter a little higher in the polls, but compared to some other dogs, he just doesn’t feature as a prominent enough part of gameplay.
5. Coral Island
Of all the cozy farming sims on this list, Coral Island ranks highest because there’s an actual animation that goes along with petting the dog. Dogs are one of the pets you can get in the game, and petting them shows your character bending down to give them a good scritch. The dog also gives a nice heart reaction to show that it’s pleased with the affection, making this a pretty satisfying mechanic overall. You can pet the dogs you meet around town as well as your own pet doggos.
Pets, unlike farm animals, don’t have much of a gameplay use, but they do make for fun companions for your farming lifestyle.
4. Lords of the Fallen
In Lords of the Fallen, you can rescue a dog known as the Forlorn Hound through the Rescue the Hound quest. Once you meet this furry friend, you can give him all the pets. But there’s more! Petting the Forlorn Hound actually has an in-game impact, increasing the chances that you’ll receive a random buff during combat. We love a game that embraces the importance of giving your canine companion some regular attention.
I couldn’t get good intel on whether or not this NPC pooch can perish in the game, so play at your own risk.
3. Fable III
Many fans loved how much of a role your dog companion played in Fable II but complained because you couldn’t actually pet your canine companion. Thankfully, the developers remedied this in Fable III, where you can indeed pet your beloved dog. This game also lets you change the breed by using special potions, and your dog’s appearance shifts slightly depending on your character’s alignment.
The downside is that while they added pets, the story role of the dog was significantly reduced. Your dog will still fetch hidden treasures for you and learn new commands, but it will no longer join you in combat. On the bright side, that makes it far more likely your dog will safely make it to the end with you.
2. Baldur’s Gate 3
Early in the game, you encounter Scratch, a dog who has tragically lost his owner. If you play your cards right, he’ll come find you in your camp when he’s ready. Once he’s there, you can pet him as often as you’d like, and he makes happy dog noises realistic enough to pique my actual dog’s interest. He’ll also bring you occasional presents, which is a fun additional perk.
You can bring Scratch into combat with you if you really want to, but he isn’t particularly helpful in a fight. But as far as petting goes, Scratch is one of the best video game dogs around.
1. The Sims 4: Cats and Dogs
If you’re looking for a game where you can not only pet the doggo, but live with it, feed it, take it for walks, etc, then you can’t really go wrong with the Cats and Dogs expansion for The Sims 4. In this game, dogs are a part of your family, and you can adopt as many as your household can fit. The game features a variety of breeds, so you can pretty much add whichever dog you choose to your virtual life.
However, dogs have lifespans just like human Sims, so there’s a slight minus point because if you play the game long enough, your virtual dog will die.