The Pokémon: Let’s Go Poké Ball controller is psyching out dogs

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The latest Pokémon games can be played with a special peripheral that is shaped like an actual pokéball that you can throw to catch monsters. But since the controller is ball-shaped, makes sounds, and comes attached to a rope-like holster, pets everywhere are confused. What do you mean this cool new toy isn’t for your real furry friend?

The Poké Ball Plus is an attractive proposition for Pokémon collectors, and one of its biggest draws is that it gifts players the rare, legendary Mew. The controller can also house a digital pokémon in it, allowing you to walk your friend out into the real world while experiencing some limited feedback. As a Pokémon fan, I had to get one. Unfortunately, the controller immediately caught the attention of my cat, who started pawing at it in delight. She couldn’t tell it wasn’t a cat toy.

Apparently, this phenomenon is worse for dogs. Another big feature for the Poké Ball is that you can “throw” it, and the game will register the motion controls in-game when you encounter a new critter. Because the controller can strap to your hand, the Poké Ball doesn’t actually go anywhere, but the design allows you to approximate what it would be like to catch a pokémon in real life.

In short: playing the new Pokémon game, as far as your dog is concerned, may well look like you’re playing fetch. Except, bizarrely, you’re never actually releasing the ball. Pet owners on social media are reporting that this is exciting (or upsetting) their dogs, who can’t figure out why their master is being so mean to them. Some dogs are even chewing up the controller.

There’s not much that developer Game Freak could have done here: it’s not as if quality assurances take pets into consideration when testing a product. But if you’re playing with the Poké Ball Plus attachment and you have a pet, just make sure you’re not completely ignoring your real pet for a virtual one.