%% 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 is time]] to [[CutenessProximity pet ze kitty!]]'']]

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 soften the edge of a villain (or AntiHero) by showing him engaging in a moment of kindness.

{{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 (if the people they favor aren't evil). Contrast KickTheDog (doing something evil to establish an evil personality), 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/AnimatedFilms
* PetTheDog/ComicBooks
* 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

[[folder:Professional Wrestling]]
* When he was not tearing people's faces open with his teeth or stealing masks, Perro Aguayo Jr. could often be found playing with dogs.