Although competitive games have multi-fold benefits to students' learning, such as motivation, satisfaction, and effectiveness, inappropriate competitive learning activities may have some negative impacts on students. From the literature, the authors have identified three main strategies which may reduce the negative impacts in competition game. However, because these strategies target only at the design of competition, the learning effects is limited. In fact, learning also happens in the preparation before competition. Hence, this study adopts preparation-before-competition approach to foster the habit of endeavor. That is, students make more effort to learn; they will win more easily. An animal companion system, entitled My-Pet-Trainer system, was implemented according to such approach. The system encourages students to improve their learning in the preparation stage where the virtual pets represent students' open learner models before the competition stage. In addition, the paper also considers the symbiosis and emotional relationship with virtual pets to maintain long-term interactions.