%% This image was chosen in an Image Pickin' thread, please don't replace it without starting a new thread.%%
[[quoteright:350:[[ThoseWackyNazis http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/nazis_with_kittens_5152.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:350:''[[UsefulNotes/WorldWarII Blitzkrieg]] can vait; [[JustAStupidAccent it's time to]] [[CutenessProximity pet ze kitty!]]'']]

%% Little do they know, that kitten's also a suicide bomber. Hence the 'nade.

This term was coined by cynical screenwriters, basically meaning: show the nasty old crank petting a dog, and you show the audience, ''aw shucks, [[RuleOfEmpathy he's all right after all.]]'' Often used to demonstrate that a {{Jerkass}} is really a JerkWithAHeartOfGold, or, if more limited, that the character is goal oriented rather than sadistic and/or thoroughly evil. If used as an EstablishingCharacterMoment then you skip right past the jerkass phase.

Of course, this doesn't mean specifically petting a cute animal. It's just any attempt to mellow out a villain (or AntiHero).

{{Sub Trope}}s include PhotoOpWithTheDog, EvenBadMenLoveTheirMamas, MoralityPet (a character's entire relationship with a villain is one long PetTheDog moment), and AndroclesLion (where the dog would later reward the one who petted him/her). Compare LickedByTheDog. A few ways to pet the dog include: being an AnonymousBenefactor, IWasJustPassingThrough, and EvenEvilHasStandards. Demonstrating MoralMyopia could also work, granted if the people they favor aren't evil. Contrast KickTheDog, MustMakeAmends (when a character tries to undo or atone for having [[ShootTheDog Shot The Dog]]), BaitTheDog (when this is darkly {{subverted}}).
!!Example subpages
* PetTheDog/{{Advertising}}
* PetTheDog/AnimeAndManga
* PetTheDog/ComicBooks
* PetTheDog/AnimatedFilms
* PetTheDog/FanWorks
* PetTheDog/{{Gamebooks}}
* PetTheDog/LiveActionFilms
* PetTheDog/{{Literature}}
* PetTheDog/LiveActionTV
* PetTheDog/MythologyAndReligion
* PetTheDog/NewMedia
* PetTheDog/NewspaperComics
* PetTheDog/{{Theater}}
* PetTheDog/VideoGames
* PetTheDog/WebComics
* PetTheDog/WebOriginal
* PetTheDog/WesternAnimation
* PetTheDog/RealLife