In wild areas you will find dangerous animals who can deplete your health. Interaction with enemies is the only way to lose health, and the only way to get the "Game Over" screen. You can tell which animals are a threat by the emotion balloons over their heads. Non-threat animals don't have this feature and in most cases can be treated just like any other piece of the scenery.
An enemy's emotion starts out as calm, represented by a blue smiley face. As long as you are outside its range of sight or you are moving slowly enough, the animal will remain happy and you have nothing to fear. This and when they're asleep, are the only times when your bark or howl will have an effect on an enemy; you must surprise them.
When an animal spots you or hears you running, the emotion icon turns into a green angry face, showing that it has spotted you and will try to get closer in order to attack you. When you see this face, it's a good idea to put some distance between yourself and the enemy before it attacks. When attacking, the enemy's emotion balloon shows a red scary face. By the time you see this face, you'll hopefully be running out of range, otherwise the attack will land and you'll lose some health. When hit, your dog will fall to the ground, and a big exclamation mark will appear over their head. Some enemies may walk away after attacking, but many will continue to attack you.
The two other enemy statuses are sleeping and stunned. When an enemy is asleep, it is generally easier to sneak up on them and even if you wake them up, you have some time before they get their wits about them to run away. Many enemies will fall asleep if you watch them for a while, and most will fall asleep as soon as they get back to their spot after chasing you. The fighting section explains more about how to stun an enemy.
Along with taking down your health, some snakes also have the ability to inflict a status ailment. The two statuses are stun and poison. Stun does just that to you, and will only wear off by attempting to move your character. When you get stunned, your hearts in the upper right corner of the screen will turn amber and you will see two lightning bolts on either side of the dog's head. While stunned, you will move much more slowly. Stun isn't anything to worry about if you keep moving, as it will wear off before the animal has another chance to strike and you'll rarely find another enemy close enough to take advantage of your momentary immobility.
The second status effect is poison. When poisoned, your hearts will turn purple and you'll see purple spirals coming off your dog's head. Poison is a much more serious threat, as it drains half a heart of life from you every few seconds. Additionally, poison must be cured, not healed. Using a normal healing item such as the Medicinal Herb or Potan's Medicine will restore your hearts, but the poison remains and will continue to eat away at your life. The two ways to cure poison are by taking Obaba's Antidote and resting either in your bed or at an inn. If you can make it, resting is the superior option, because the antidote only cures the poison, it doesn't restore any hearts.
Although not actual combat, you have the ability to stun an enemy with your bark or howl. Pressing momentarily will result in a bark, and holding it down for longer periods will result in progressively more powerful ones. Keep it held down, and when your power is maxed out, your dog will let loose a howl for maximum damage. While barking can stun an animal for a few seconds, a howl will last much longer. The duration of the knockout has to do with the amount of time the enemy is on screen. For a full howl, any enemy will be out of commission for one minute while you are watching it. If you move away with the enemy out of sight, however, it will stay unconscious. The minute knockout only counts the time during which you can see the enemy.
All animals can be stunned, except for flying enemies. In most cases, to stun an enemy you need to sneak up behind them by walking slowly, although some reptiles don't mind if you run right up behind them. You can use your slow walk by using the normal movement control or by sniffing, which automatically goes at the slowest pace. (It is not always advised to use sniffing to sneak up on enemies, because some of them will wake up and notice you the second you stop.) You can walk behind any animal in the right circumstances, and some you can walk right in front of. To howl at a moving animal, walk right up beside it before holding down so that your howl will come while the enemy is still close enough to you. All rotating enemies go counter-clockwise, so approach them on their right-hand side to begin your howl. In general, the safest strategy is to wait for the animal to go to sleep, then approach it slowly and howl. Some enemies will fall asleep as you watch them, while others need to chase you first.
In the water, Alligators patrol back and forth in an area, while the one on land rotates. Keep in mind you can't howl in the water, so if you want to knock a swimming 'Gator out, you'll have to use a normal quick bark, or be standing on land for a full howl. The good thing is they aren't very sensitive, so you can swim right on top of them as long as you stay to the sides and back. The landlocked Alligator in Chiro Caves is simply defeated by waiting for it to turn away from you, then running up behind it and howling. The Alligators in Zoomy Lake are fairly sensitive, but not as sensitive as the one in Anc Road.
For the ones swimming in Zoomy Lake, you'll want to wade out from shore as far as you can go without swimming. You can tell you're at the point where you can't go any farther when the camera moves to a more overhead view. From this position, you'll need to wait until the Alligator's random swim path heads in your direction, and, with good timing, start holding down so that your howl coincides with the enemy's proximity. This can be tricky on the middle Alligator, so if you're just trying to find the Basket, the other two are better choices. The northern one is the safest, as you can stay out of harm's way on the island by the Hippo, but the southern Alligator will be much faster. For best results, from the Treely Woods entrance, run straight to the southern Alligator and quickly wade out so you're right in front of it, then howl. When you first enter the area before they've started moving, you can run right up to the front of an Alligator, and the southern one is close enough to shore to be affected by your howl.
The Alligator in Anc Road should be led up onto land before you attempt to knock it out. Just stand by the edge of the water in which it is swimming, then run from it when it charges, being sure to not get too far ahead so it's drawn out of the water as far as it will go. The enemy moves very slowly back to the water, so you should have plenty of time to walk up beside it and get a full howl off before it's too late.
Bats are more of a nuisance than anything else, although they might get you the Game Over screen if you spend too much time looking for Heavy Stones during the Entrance of the Cave mission. The two ways of getting past Bats are by simply running past them, in which case they will barely miss you if you're not going uphill, or you can walk slowly through their territory. The Bats are constantly asleep on the ceiling, unless awoken. After attacking you, they fly back to their perches and fall immediately back asleep. There is no way to stun a Bat, because they are too far up to be affected by your bark or howl when they are calm. Also be careful when you are digging something up in Bat territory. The ding that your find meter makes will wake them up. Finally, there are bats you have to watch out for during the minecart ride. Take a wrong turn, and suddenly you will run into one of these pests.
This snake is essentially the same as the Green Snake, except it does more damage, is more sensitive and poisons you. Other than that, it is the same character model with a different coloring, and you can run right up to the back or sides of one to howl at it.
- South Sandy Desert
Boars are quick to attack and are very sensitive if you breach their sight or hearing perimeters. To get in close, stop well away from them and begin slowly walking toward them. In most cases, boars will fall asleep before you get to them, so they don't present a problem. You can approach a Boar from behind or the sides while they're awake as long as you're walking, but don't try to get to them from the front (they will immediately wake up, even though they were asleep). If you have trouble with their sensitivity, just watch them for a few seconds and they'll take a nap.
Like the Boars, Brown Bears get sleepy if you watch them for a little while. They stay in one spot and will chase you only a small distance if you are running within their hearing range. You can sneak up on an alert Bear from the sides and back, although they have somewhat better peripheral vision than a lot of animals, so make your way to them from slightly behind to be on the safe side.
Buffalo are very sensitive and have a huge area of awareness. It's easier to just avoid these creatures all together, but at some point you may need to dig something up in a spot in one of their territories like the Ringmaster Outfit. In that case, run toward the Buffalo until you capture its attention at the boundary of its territory, then wait for it to get close to you. When it does, walk back outside of the perimeter, at which point the Buffalo will turn around and begin walking back into position. Walk after it and when you come up alongside the Buffalo, stop to howl. Buffalo rarely sleep, so this is the most time-effective method. But to make them sleep, circle the black paw around them several times then stop above their heads. Repeat until they fall asleep (which may take a while). Be careful when walking beside them that you don't accidentally get slightly ahead of them, or you won't be able to escape injury.
Gorillas will chase you a bit farther than the other early enemies, and they also like to sleep a lot. They beat their chests when attacking and have a decently large hit range; you don't have to be too close to them for the attack to hit you. They're not that sensitive while sleeping, so you should be able to run up to one that's asleep and get off a full howl before it wakes up. Gorillas won't sense you at all if you are walking slowly, so you can approach them from the front and still remain safe.
The only Gray Cobra in the game is positioned in a bottleneck in Rune Caverns. It rotates around, and it's very sensitive to noise, even when you're walking slowly. The safest way to get in close is to wait for it fall asleep, but you can also just run up to it while its back is to you and get off a howl before it turns around. You only need a quick bark for the Present from the Daughter mission, for which you can just run up while it's asleep or turned around and get off a small bark. Another good way to knock out this enemy is to let it chase you, then sneak up behind it once it turns around and heads back. Done right, there's more than enough time to pull off a full howl.
- Rune Caverns
Green Snakes are the first enemy you encounter in the game, and are the easiest to avoid and defeat. These snakes stay in one position and take no notice of you running around near them unless you're directly in front of them. If seen, the Green Snake will give chase, albeit slowly and for only a short distance. The Green Snakes in Zoomy Lake and Hoya Plains are a brighter green, but in all other respects, they're the same as the Green Meadows and Treely Woods snakes. To howl, just run right up to the back or sides of them.
Orange Snakes are slightly upgraded versions of Green Snakes. They sit motionless facing in one direction, and you can run right up to them on the sides or back. The only difference between the two besides color, is the Orange Snake takes a full heart off your life. The Orange Snake guarding the first bridge is the most annoying, as you need to cross to get to Tao's dojo, but if you dash past, you can escape the attack. The other Orange Snake is not in the way and you can easily howl at it to get the Argyle Casquette.
- Gola Highlands
Polar Bears are white versions of the Brown Bears, except they walk around and do twice as much damage. They are sensitive to running in their awareness zone, but interestingly you can walk right up to them from the front and they don't mind at all. These are quite simple creatures to stun, since you can walk right up to them from any direction whether they're moving or not. The only time you have to worry is when they're walking and you run into them; you can walk all around them on any side while they're walking, but if you jostle them, they'll attack. You can touch them while they're stationary or asleep without worry though. From their base positions, Polar Bears will either walk in a random direction or go to sleep, with sleeping being the less likely option. After attacking, the Bears go back to their initial state, from which they'll either continue to walk around or take a nap. You can use this to your advantage to get them to hold still if you have a hard time not running into them while they're moving. If you are trying to stun a moving Bear, lead them somewhat so you're in no danger of touching them, and so they'll be right on top of you by the time your howl is at full effect. You are also safe if you're standing still or building a howl and a Polar Bear walks into you.
Pink Cobras have a very similar hue to the Purple Cobras; they are just slightly lighter. It's hard to say whether they are actually light purple or fuchsia rather than pink, but for disambiguation in the guide, these two colors were chosen. You will know which is which in the game, because Purple Cobras are only found in the desert and Pink Cobras are only found indoors.
The Pink Cobras do slightly more damage and the ones in Kunka Ruins are more sensitive than Purple Cobras as well. The other main difference between the two is that the Pink Cobras don't rotate like the purple ones do. In most cases, you can run by a Pink Cobra to get its attention, and it will fall asleep when it returns from chasing you. Even if it doesn't go to sleep, it stays facing the way it returned (away from you), so it's only a matter of walking up behind it and barking or howling. The Cobras on the Anc Road have very little sensitivity (even less than Green Snakes), and you can run up behind or to the sides of them.
Purple Cobras rotate around, 90° at a turn. Due to this, they are slightly harder to sneak up on than Green or Blue snakes. Still, they aren't sensitive so you can run right up to them if you stay out of their lines of sight and you can't be poisoned by them unlike the Blue Snakes in the South Sandy Desert.
- North Sandy Desert
The Red Cobra is the fiercest of all snakes in the game. It is faster and more sensitive than any other snake and is harder to put to sleep by getting it to chase you. They are also very quick to wake up from a nap. You have a better chance of getting by a Red Cobra by running past it when its back is to you, than trying to run past while it's asleep. If you get scared by a Red Cobra two times in a row, you will lose an additional half heart. To stun this enemy, you safest course of action is to agitate it into moving, then hoping it fall asleep. You don't need to get very close to a Red Cobra for it to chase you, and indeed that can be quite dangerous. Stay a few lengths away and when it starts to come after you, run from it, trying to get it to chase you. If it just won't fall asleep, then when it turns to go back to its position, follow it by walking and as soon as it stops, run up behind it and howl. Your window of opportunity here is very slim, so if you are too far away by the time you start running, there's a good chance the Cobra will turn around before you have a full howl. In that case, just release your bark to save yourself and try again. Sometimes when you're trying this method the Cobra will fall asleep when it gets back to where it was. In that case, your running will wake it up and you won't have enough time to make a full howl, so back away and hope it falls right back to sleep after it gets up.
- Kunka Ruins
Spotted Orange Snake
If you look closely at these snakes, you'll see they have spots on them. That's the only physical trait distinguishing them from their Gola Highlands cousins, the Orange Snakes. These snakes also rotate and poison you if you get bitten. They are fairly easy to knockout, as they have no sensitivity at all to running behind or to the sides of them.
- Chiro Caves
These large birds fly in circles and won't notice you unless you enter that circle. Vultures are sometimes placed in chokepoints in the terrain, such as the eastern cul-de-sac in Dry Valley and when you first enter Rune Canyon from Rune Village. They sometimes make you lose one and a half hearts. Make sure you're walking while in its territory, or the Vulture will swoop down and knock you out of its flight area. If it does strike you, the Vulture will knock you back quite a distance. You can't get close enough to a Vulture while it is calm to bark, you can't bark while it's attacking you, and it doesn't sleep, so there is no way to stun this enemy.
Yellow Cobras are identical to Purple Cobras in all but color. They move similarly, do the same amount of damage and will give you a stun. Likewise, the method to get close to them is the same: run up to them from behind and to the right, staying out of their line of sight.
- Dry Valley
Note on the one minute knockout
- You may have noticed while playing the game that some elements, such as enemies, bugs or other dogs seem to "pop" into existence as you get close to them. In order to reduce system load, certain objects aren't kept in memory as "live" elements. Enemies are one such element, and when you walk away from one, its knockout timer and object position get stored until you bring it back into your field of view, at which time it is "reactivated." This is easiest to see with Vultures in Dry Valley and Rune Canyon, where you can walk up to the perimeter of the circle in which they fly and watch them disappear on the far side. Wait as long as you like, then approach the Vulture again and when it pops back into existence, you'll see it won't have moved from the position at which it stopped.