How to Unlock Pets
Besides livestock and chickens, you can own pets on your farm. To prepare for pets, you will need to build Rod's Cottage house. The blueprint for the Cottage is for sale at Rebecca's Designs for 2400 G after you start working on Town Restoration Plan #3. The Cottage requires you to combine 36 Small Branches, 25 Material Stone, 40 Lumber, and 5 Wool.
After Rod moves in, he will set up his Pet Shop in the Town Plaza area, next to Neil's animal shop. Rod's shop is open on non-rainy Mondays through Thursdays from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. The pets he has for sale are all of the available styles you've unlocked so far; he doesn't give random styles like Neil does with his cow inventory.
- Four color of horses (brown, white, black, and red)
- Three colors of "dogs" (brown, white, and black)
- Three colors of "puppies" (brown, white, and black)
- Three colors of cats (gray, black, and striped)
- Three colors of longhaired cats (brown, black, and white)
The further along you are with the Town Restoration Plans, the more colors of pets Rod will sell. Check his shop inventory page for pictures and the requirements to unlock specific colors.
Before you can buy a pet from Rod, you will need to build the Pet House. The blueprint can be bought from Rebecca after you have been introduced to Rod. You can only build one Pet House on your farm, and it requires 5 Material Stone, 20 Lumber, 5 Brick, and 5 Moondrop Flowers. The cats and dogs you purchase will live in the Pet House, while the Horse lives in a livestock barn you've built.
You are limited to owning any combination of 4 cats/dogs and only 1 horse on your farm, no matter how much space you have unlocked. You can sell unwanted pets back to Rod, but he will never give you as much money as you bought the pet for.
Pets need to be fed each day. You can buy bags of Pet Food for the dogs and cats from Rod's shop for 260 G each. When you place the Pet Food in the Storage box inside your farm house, the feed chute inside of the Pet House will dispense the Pet Food for you to pick up and place in the large box on the floor of the Pet House. The horse will eat the same Fodder that your livestock animals eat.
You can hold one of your pets inside of your farm house, but a house pet can't work for you. Even after you remove a pet from the Pet House to place inside your farm house, you are still limited to 4 cats and/or dogs. An indoor pet can be fed by building the permanent Pet Food Dispenser inside of your farm house. The blueprint is sold at Rebecca's Designs for 2400 G after Rod is unlocked. The food bin requires 5 Small Lumber, 2 Copper, and 2 Iron, and will link to the Storage box where your Pet Food is stored.
The Purpose of Pets
Owning cats and dogs will help you with herding your animals in and out of their barns. The horse can be used for faster transportation (at least until you build the Three-Wheeled Buggy by combining the Azure Fragments).
The day after you buy your dog/cat, it can herd animals. You must assign the herding chore to the cat or dog by using Pet Information notebook inside the Pet House. The pet will not herd anything until you tell it what to care for: either the "Animals" (i.e., livestock) or the "Chickens." The same pet can't care for both types at the same time, but any pet can care for either one. For example, cats in Harvest Moon: A Tale of Two Towns only cared for chickens, but in A New Beginning you can assign cats to care for either the livestock or the chickens.
Cats/Dogs vs. Longhaired Cats/Puppies
For herding animals, there is a small difference between the two levels of animals. Generally, the more friendship hearts a pet has, the more animals it can herd for you. A dog or cat can herd up to 5 animals when it has zero to 3 hearts, up to 9 animals from 3 to 6 hearts, up to 15 animals from 6 to 9 hearts, and the maximum 20 animals at 9 to 10 hearts.
The puppies and longhair cats can herd animals too, but they require less friendship to care for the same number of animals that the regular dogs and cats can care for. These two type of pets can herd up to 5 animals when it has between zero and 2 hearts, 9 animals from 2 to 4 hearts, 12 animals from 4 to 6 hearts, up to 15 animals from 6 to 8 hearts, and the max of 20 at anything higher than 8 hearts.
The puppies and longhaired cats appear in Rod's shop once you begin Town Restoration Plan #4.
Every sunny or snowy morning at 7:00 am, the pets will activate and herd your animals out of their barns. It won't matter where on your farm the barns are located. The number of animals each pet will care for will depend on the pet's friendship heart level, so even if it takes care of all the animals in your main Farm area, it can still herd the ones in your East Farm and West Farm areas. The pets won't herd your animals outside when it is rainy or stormy.
When 5:00 pm comes around, the pet scene will activate again and the pets will herd your animals back into their barns. It is okay if you go to bed before 5:00 pm or you go to the Travel Agency to go somewhere else, the pets will still care for the animals even if you aren't around at 5:00 pm.
Unfortunately, the pet scene happens every time you are on your farm at 7am and 5pm. Again and again, you'll see the little animal parade marching in and out of the barns, and there isn't a setting or option in the game to turn it off. To avoid the repetitive scene, you can either stay inside your house or exit to the village area when the scene is scheduled to trigger. The herding scene happens at the top of the hour, so you don't need to stay away until 10 minutes after like you do when trying to avoid Neil, Rod, Olivia, and Sandra's stall opening/closing scene.
If you have all the same type of pet, the scene will start with each pet coming out of the Pet House and waiting for the other pets before they all run off in a group. If you have different kinds of pets, then they will run out the Pet House one at a time. The same-type pets can also perform cut scene tricks together, such as stacking up as a pyramid.
A horse will cost 10,000 G and you can buy one horse after Rod sets up his pet shop. The horse is a pet that will take up one livestock space in your animal barn. Even though it takes up a spot inside your barn, the horse won't be herded in and out by the cats and dogs. If you want it to go outside, you'll have to move it yourself. The horse can't become sick or stressed.
The more hearts the horse has, the faster it will run. The horse will be slow until it has 3 hearts, when it will increase its run speed. It will speed up again when you reach 7 hearts of friendship. A horse at 10 hearts will run at the same speed as when you reached 7 hearts of friendship. You can see your friendship level by going into the Animal Information notebook inside the Barn. The horse will eat Fodder placed into the barn feed bins.
If you dismount your horse and leave it outside of your farm overnight, it will be back inside of the animal barn in the morning. The horse can't jump over fences or other obstacles.
You can sell your horse back at Rod's shop if you want a different color, but your purchased replacement horse will be at 0 hearts of friendship.
Raising your friendship with the cats and dogs will allow the pet to herd more animals at a time, and the horse will run faster. Each heart on the pet's friendship meter is 100 FP; .5 hearts is 50 FP. The maximum friendship you can have is 1000 points (10 hearts). To raise your friendship, simply interact with the pet:
- +2 FP: Feed the cat or dog; pick the cat or dog up and back down.
- +10 FP: Feed the horse; jump on the horse's back to ride it; go to the Festival Grounds and play with the cat or dog.
You can also lower your friendship with your pet by not feeding it (-2 FP), take it outside on a rainy or stormy day (-2 FP), accidentally hit it with one of your tools (-15 FP), or ignore the pet for 3 days (-20 FP).
Cat and Dog Training
Since it takes a long time to raise friendship with your cats and/or dogs, you can play with your pet at the Festival Grounds to speed up your friendship. You will need to buy a Leash, Cat Bell, and Dog Bone from Rod. You can only play with one pet at a time.
To earn the +10 FP, equip the Leash and press A next to the pet you want to take with you. The pet will follow you around as long as you have the Leash equipped. You won't see a line between you and your pet, but you will be together. The pet will have a leash icon above its head. You can't ride a buggy while leading a pet, so run with it to the Festival Grounds.
At the festival area, remove the Leash and then take the bell or bone out of your rucksack. Obviously, the Dog Bone is strictly for use with dogs and the Cat Bell is for cat pets. Stand next to your pet and press A to toss the item. The pet will run after it and bring it back. You will then have earned +10 Friendship Points. Then simply equip the Leash and lead the pet back to your farm.
You will only earn +10 FP once per day, no matter how many times you throw the item for the pet to retrieve. There's no advantage to stand in the area, tossing the Dog Bone over and over again. You'll only earn the friendship the first time you play each day.
Rod sells an unlimited supply of Dog Bones, Cat Bells, and Leashes in case you ever lose them. A Dog Bone costs 4500 G, a Cat Bell costs 4500 G, and a Leash is 1800 G.
Fat Cats and Fat Dogs
Cats and dogs can become stressed. You can see your pet's stress level in the Pet Notebook inside of the Pet House. Pets don't become sick like your livestock and chickens do when their stress meters are high. Instead, your pet will become fat.
A pet's stress bar is valued between 0 and 1000 points, as they are not as sensitive to stress as livestock and chickens with their 100-point max stress level. A pet will become overweight once it reaches 800 stress points. When it drops below 800, it will become slender again.
Pets who are fat can herd animals just like their slender comrades, but the number of animals they can manage is significantly less. For example, a healthy cat can herd 5 animals when it has less than 3 hearts, but a fat cat can only manage 2. Whereas a healthy dog can handle a maximum of 20 animals at 9 hearts, a fat dog can only herd a maximum of 12 animals.
Stress will increase on a pet when:
- you don't pick it up (i.e., interaction) for 3 days (+20 stress).
- you hit it with one of your tools (+15 stress).
- the pet isn't fed that day (+2 stress).
- the pet is placed outside during a rainy or stormy day (+2 stress).
If you want a fattie, the easiest way to increase pet stress is to hit it with your tools. You'll earn +15 stress points, but also -15 Friendship Points. Another way to get a fat pet is to place it inside of your farm house and don't build the Pet Food Dispenser; basically you're starving your pet to get it fat. This method takes a long longer though.
To slim your pet back down, you will need to decrease its stress level. Rod doesn't sell pet medicine! The easiest way to do this is to walk the fat pet using the Leash. Each time the pet takes a step it will earn -1 stress point. The fat pet can only walk, not run, so you just need to run to spot and wait for it to catch up. Then move to another location and wait again.