FAQ for new hunters – All about pet training and taming and other need to know stuff

A few days ago I met a Warlock in Elywnn forest, who was new to the game of WOW.  She started a conversation with me, as she had never seen anyone fishing before (I was on Bluebear my level 60 feral druid, improving my fishing in the river after a visit to darkmoon faire).  We got chatting, I helped her kill Princess the pig (well, it’s what you do in Elwynn), and invited her to my guild.  The next day she whispers me on a new alt, a hunter (yeah for her!), “How do I change my pet?  I have an owl and he’s rubbish, I want to change him for something else?”  A long conversation ensued (I probably burned her ear off!)  Anyway, I remembered I had written some FAQ on hunter pet taming for my guild website long ago, and never transferred them to this blog.  Here they are now, for Timorry and all new hunters like her.  I have also updated them to include some of the changes coming in WOTLK. 

Hunters are a lot of fun, easy to solo, with lots of toys to play with.  They’re getting lots of new toys in the expansion too.  But starting a hunter can be a bit confusing too, especially the pet issue.   With such big changes coming, its probably even more confusing for someone new; working out what is current, what is old, and what is yet to come.  

When do I get a pet?  How do I tame and train my pet?  What if I want to change pets?  And how is this all going to change in the Wrath of the Lich King expansion?  Find out the answers to these and many other basic questions here.


1. When and how do I get the skills to train a pet?

You get the skill to train a pet from a quest from your Hunter Trainer at level 10. The trainer will ask you to go out and train three different animals. For each he gives you a Tame Beast ability specific for that kind of animal. To tame the animal you select it and hit the tame beast icon. You ‘love it up’ – channeling hearts at it – while the animal attacks you. After the channeling is finished, you will have trained the pet. 


You hunt with each pet for about 10 mins, then the pet will disappear and you return to the trainer for the next part (if you wish, you can go back sooner and after completing the quest, choose the abandon pet option, by right clicking on the pets picture icon). Having tamed all three pets, the trainer will give you the Tame Pet ability (looks like a green fist), located on your beast mastery tab in your spells and abilities book. VERY IMPORTANT make sure you complete the second part of this quest — your trainer sends you to see someone else — who give you the ability to FEED your pet. You also get the abilities to Call, Dismiss, Revive, and Train pet. (You do not get the ability to Heal your pet until level 12.)

Also visit your Pet Trainer. The Pet Trainer will teach you skills, including Growl, which you can train to your pet. This is not every second level like your Hunter Trainer (its less often – can’t remember how often – so go check them out each time you go to the hunter trainer).

In WOTLK it looks like you will still wait till level 10 to get your first pet, and still have to complete the quest from your hunter trainer.  You will still receive the abilities to tame new pets, call, dismiss, revive and feed your pet at the end of your quest.  However, you will no longer need the train pet ability.  There will also not be pet trainers in the game.  Each pet will come with abilities including growl and cower; bite, claw or smack; and an ability specific to their family (e.g. wolves get furious howl).  

You are now ready to get your first pet!


2. What kind of pet should I get?

Visit the excellent Petopia and check out the gallery of pets and the different pet families you can tame, and decide which you like (most of the imagines in this article are courtesy of Petopia – click on the image to go to the site).

Pets are changing drastically in the WOTLK expansion.  These changes will go live when patch 3.0 hits, about a month from now.

At the moment, pets can be sort of divided into 3 categories – offensive (high damage dealers); defensive (high armor); and all rounders.   In WOTLK this will be formalized at three families of pet – Ferocity pets (high damage dealers); tenacity pets (high armor, tanking pets); and cunning pets (kind of all rounders, pets with pvp and other utility skills).

At the moment, some pets in the wild come with some skills when they are tamed, some don’t.  You need to train them with skills, some of which can be learned from your trainers, some from taming other animals in the wild, and then teaching the skills from those animals to your main pet.  WOTLK is simplifying this, all pets come with certain standard skills, growl (which gains aggro), cower (which dumps aggro), and either bite, claw, or smack (which will all do the same thing, extra damage), plus a specific family skill.  You won’t have to train them anything.  What you will have to do later on is assign them talents.  Pets get a talent tree from level 20, the same as you do from level 10.  Whereas you get 3 tree to choose from, pets just get one, but that tree will be different for ferocity, tenacity and cunning pets.  Therefore, when choosing a pet decide whether you want a tank, high damage dealer, or utility pet, and then choose one from those trees.  Once you have done that, look at the specific family skills and choose the one that suits your play style the most.

When you have decided which family you want, look at Petopia and choose the ‘skin’ of the pet you like the look of.  Remember you can tame an animal the same level or below yours, but not one higher than you in level.  Petopia has links to wowhead etc.  So when you have found your chosen pet, you can look up where he is to be found and go off in search of him.

Remember you don’t have to just be restricted to one pet, especially in WOTLK.  Currently, you have 3 stable slots (although you need one for taming animals for new skills, so you can have 2 permanent pets).  In WOTLK you will have 5 stable slots, and no need to save one for training, so you can have 5 permanent pets.

Pets level up with you.  Currently, if you are level 70 and you want a level 19 ghostsaber, he will be level 19 after you have trained him, and you will have to level him up 51 painful levels.  In WOTLK if you tame a low level pet, it will jump to 5 levels below you giving you more choice.  

Also, currently there is a thing called pet loyalty.  It has a scale of 1 through 6 from disloyal to best friend.  A level 1 pet will not hold aggro as well or do as much damage as a level 6 loyalty pet.  Loyalty is being done away with in WOTLK.  This means that if you have a level 8 bear, and you stable him for a couple of level while playing with a cat,   you don’t have to level your bear up to catch up with you.  Instead, you can swap him for a level 10 bear, who is the same level as you, with no penalty for having just trained him, rather than having leveled up with him.  This should allow the leveling hunter to keep more than one pet as they level up.  Previously, this was hard to do, as the pets’ levels would fall below the hunters.  Having more than one pet means you can have a tanking pet, a pvp pet, and a high dps pet if you choose, or you could have 5 different raptors in 5 different colors, if raptors are your thing.

Still confused?  Here are some suggestions.

When you are leveling a tenacity pet (tank) is a good idea, or possibility a cunning pet, which has a nice feature to give mana back to the hunter.  Bears will make good leveling pets.  When running instances or with groups where you do not need your pet to tank, take a high dps pet like a raptor.


High damage pets – cats, ravagers and raptors.

High armor, tanking pets – unfortunately the tanking pets suffer from not being able to learn focus skills like claw, movement enhancers like dash, or in some cases like bears having no special skills.  Gorillas probably make best current tanks, bears are popular and perfectly good at most levels.

Good all rounders – boars.  Wolves are popular though have some weakness, but will get improves in WOTLK.

Others worth a look – owls (high damage and screech which is aoe debuff), scorpid (high armor and poison dot good for pvp), wind serpent (high damage)


When WOTLK hits

High damage pets – raptors, devilsaurs (need to be level 50s and have 51 points in BM for devilsaur), moths (yes you heard me, moths) (cats may get a look in, depends on how good rake is)

High armor, tanking pets – bears, worms (51 point BM), rhino (51 point BM – but he’s a bit too big imo), crocolisk, gorilla

Others worth a look (I haven’t included those with very situation specific skills) – hyena (high damage and hamstring), wolf (high damage and AP buff for party), bird of prey (utility and disarm – maybe just my subjective view or a beta issue – but bird of prey seems to generate a lot of threat, possibly from disarm?), wasp (high damage, nice debuff).  Lots of pets have pretty nice skills, there is much more choice now than before.


3. How do I tame my first pet?

Decide what pet you are going to go out and tame. Find out what he eats (see Petopia) and make sure you have a stack or two of food of that kind in your pack.

You can only train a pet at your level or below. You cannot have any help or interference while doing it (people can now heal you). Sometimes it fails and you have to try again. You can buff yourself up beforehand including getting buffs from other people (I heard that a mage could sheep the pet and then you could train it while sheeped, when it can’t attack you, but I have never tried it so it might be untrue). To start with try an animal a couple of levels below you. 

You can stun the animal first with a concussive shot (or after level 20 start by putting it in a freeze trap) then, having selected the animal, click on your tame beast spell and you will start loving it up while it attacks you.  If you have it, make sure you have Aspect of the Monkey turned on to decrease the damage done to you while you are taming.

Once he is tamed feed him until his happiness icon (the little square to the right of his health bar goes from unhappy, to content, to happy). 


4. How do I feed my pet?

To feed him, I find the easiest way is to drag the food stack from my bag and drop it on top of him. But you can also use the feed pet icon. There are also addons ( e.g. Fizzwidget’s Fee-O-Matic) and macros (see my 13 macros post) to make feeding your pet easy.  

If you can’t feed him, it is either because you didn’t finish your pet training quest, or because you are trying to feed him food he doesn’t like.

As your pet gets higher in level, he gets choosy about his food, and only higher level food will make him happy. When you get very high level, you will either need to seriously invest in cooking and fishing abilities (I can’t recommend these highly enough for a hunter) or be buying stuffed quail from vendors all the time.


5. Why should I feed my pet and how often should I feed him and what is loyalty?

If you don’t feed your pet he will get unhappy and run away (I’ve seen it happen) or even attack you. I read of a case where a hunter with a level 60 pet, at the highest level of loyalty, abandoned him because it wasn’t fed (he spent hours on the AH and guild chat ignoring said pet).

Also currently, feeding your pet helps to increase his loyalty to you. Pets have loyalty levels from 1-6. They start off at level 1 (disloyal) and progress to level 6 (best friend). At level 6 they have more focus and fight better for you.  In WOTLK there will no longer be a pet loyalty measure, but you will still need to feed your pet to keep him happy.

Your object is to always keep that happiness icon as happy or at least content. At happy your pet is doing 125% damage, at content 100%, at unhappy only 75%.

When you feed your pet a little bone appears next to his picture to show he is eating. Don’t give him any more food until this has disappeared, it will just waste food. If, after this has disappeared he is still not happy, give him another piece of food. 

Only feed your pet when his happiness icon is unhappy or content. Again, feeding him when he is happy just wastes food. Also, give him time to digest before you go into battle. I have read, but not tested out that he gets more happiness from each piece of food if he doesn’t have to eat it while fighting (well wouldn’t you!)

When he has a low loyalty level you will probably need to feed him more – and especially when you first train him.


6. How do I improve my pet and teach him new skills?

This section is about how things are now.  Once patch 3.0 hits, in preparation for the expansion, you won’t have to teach your pet new skills.

All pets can learn Growl. This taunts the target, and makes sure the mob attacks the pet and not you. To teach your pet growl click on the Beast Training icon in your spells and abilities book. This looks like a sling shot/catapult and is stupidly located on the general tab not the beast mastery tab. With my first hunter, it took me until Level 20 to realize this and train my pet!

Like you, your pet levels up and gets talent (training) points and higher levels of each ability he can learn. His talent points are based on his loyalty level and his combat level with the formula “Combat Level * (Loyalty level – 1)” This means at the maximum level 70 and level 6 loyalty your pet will have 350 training points.

Check the Beast Training window regularly to see whether you have anything new you can teach him and whether he has enough training points to learn the next level of skill. (Note your pet will never exceed your level, but if you play with him all the time, he should quickly approach you level even if he started off much lower, and then stay about half a level behind you.)

Each pet can have up to four active skills (some can learn more than four so you will need to choose which you want). My cat has growl, prowl, claw and dash.  If you train him on four skills and then want different ones, you will have to take him to a pet trainer and unlearn his talents (the same as you do yourself – although the fee is much cheaper).

You can also spend talent points on improving your pets armor, stamina, resistances, etc. These you will get from your pet trainer, along with new levels of growl, most other skills like dash you will need to get from animals in the wild.

Some wild animals have skills like bite, claw, dash and cower that you will learn when you train them. At level 24 you get the Beast Lore which allows you to select an animal cast beast law on him and see what skills he has that you can learn. Before then, and even afterwards, an excellent resource is: The Good Intention Guild Pet Finder.

The above website list all the skills a pet can learn; what they do; which pets can and can’t learn them; which animal have them; and which animals have each level. 

When I got a lion in my level 20s he didn’t have dash. To get dash, I found out the lowest level animal to have it was a Stranglethorn tiger (32-33). When I was level 32, I put my lion in the stable (see below) and trained a stranglethorn tiger. I hunted with him for 15 mins until I saw that I had learnt a new skill – dash (it comes up in you combat log – you can also check your Beast Training list). I then returned to the stable, stabled the tiger (I could have just abandoned him at this point but he was cute), and took out my lion. He needed to be level 30 and have 15 training points, and be able to learn that skill – he was – so I was able to go to Beast Training and train my lion dash. Now he had dash level 1. Looking on the Good Intentions website (above) I saw that Level 2 dash was learnable at level 40, and the lowest level animal to have it was a Ferelas Longtooth Runner (40-41). When I reached level 40 I repeated the procedure and trained a Longtooth Runner and then upgraded my lion’s Dash skill to level 2. 

To ensure your pet is the best that he can be, you should make sure you do this regularly with each of his four abilities, and form a plan for him, to ensure you are saving enough training points for what you really want. I found I didn’t have enough training points for everything, so I re-specced him, and dropped some of the resistances I had taught him, in order to get better armor and stamina and higher levels of his active skills (note you get refunded your talents points for lower levels of a skill when you learn an upgrade of that skill, but you need enough point in total to learn the upgrade). Not sure whether this was the best strategy or not, but that’s where I decided to focus my effort.


So what happens in WOTLK, if I don’t have to train my pet skills anymore?

Your pet will come with certain skills.  All pets will have growl (which increases their threat), cower (which lowers their threat), and a focus dump skill with increases their damage (bite, claw or smack – these are essentially the same in WOTLK it just depends on the family e.g. cats claw, gorillas smack).  Each pet then comes with its only family skill (e.g. bears swipe, wasps sting).  Your will automatically increase in level in these skills as he levels up.  No need to train skills or visit a trainer.  He cannot learn different skills from other animals or a trainer.  What he does now have is a talent tree.  He can learn new skills from his talents.  

You pet will have one talent tree, not 3 as you do.  This tree will be different for cunning, tenacity and ferocity pets.  Your pet will earn his first talent point at level 20, and one more every 4 levels after that.  You choose where to put them, in the same way you do your own talents.


8.  How do I use the stable?

There are stable masters in most towns, usually outside the inn or by the hunter trainer (the one in SW is outside the house with the hunter and pet trainers in the dwarf district). In a capital city you can ask a guard for directions.

Currently you get one stable slot and can buy two more. You can therefore have up to three pets at any one time, two in the stable and one out. 

Use the stable if you want to train another pet but don’t want to abandon your original one. Or use if it you are going to be parked in a city for an extended period, not hunting, as it saves feeding your pet.

In WOTLK you can purchase 4 stable slots, in addition to the one you are given, making a total of 5 stable slots in all.


9. Should I have just one pet or several, and should I change pets as I level up?

At the moment it is hard to level up with more than one pet, and keep those pets levels current with your own.  The pet you are not playing with falls behind and so you end up with either one or both of your pets being lower level than you are.  It is recommended that you stick with one pet for leveling.  But at level 70 you might want 3 different pets for 3 different situations.  At the moment, I have 2 permanent pets, a level 70 cat (Gwind) and a level 70 wolf (Red), but I actually only really play with Gwind.  I was leveling an owl in the other slot, but since the pet changes for WOTLK have been announced I have abandoned that idea.

In WOTLK it looks as if you can easily keep several pets current with your level, particular if you choose pets, which are common at different levels like cats and bears, and you are not choosy about the skin.


10. My pet has disappeared, what should I do?

Don’t panic! Pets disappear for a number of reasons. For example, if you jump and fall, your pet may not jump after you, but will try and run the long way around (bad if you are in an instance or cave as it might pull a hundred mobs in its wake). If the pet gets too far away from you, it will disappear as if it is dismissed. 

First try calling your pet (with your Whistle spell in your spells and abilities book). If that doesn’t work, try using the Revive pet spell in case he has died. If that doesn’t work, think – did you put him in the stable? When did you last feed him? Did you abandon him?

Your pet will only disappear for good, if you haven’t feed him for a long time, or if you choose to abandon him. To abandon a pet, right click on the pet’s picture and choose abandon pet from the options. You will get a warning message, and you have to confirm that this is what you want to do. There is no turning back after you click yes – your pet is gone forever. In contrast, dismiss pet, temporarily dismisses your pet into the ether – you can call him back at any time – he’s just a bit grumpy. (Note, you cannot train a new pet whilst one pet is dismissed, it must either be in the stable or abandoned.)


11. How do I control my pet?

Your pet has three settings – aggressive, defensive, and passive. With aggressive it will attack anything that comes within a certain radius of itself. In defensive mode it will only attack things that attack it or you. In passive mode it will not attack or defend itself but will sit there and take the punches, unless you specifically command it to attack. To tell your pet to attack something, select the mob and either press the attack button on the pets bar or press ctrl + 1 (this default key binding can be changed in the key binding menu options)- you can also use a pet attack macro and a pet follow macro (see my macros section). I usually have my pet on defensive mode, unless I am soloing in a low level area with fast re-spawns and just want him to wreak havoc. (Note if your pet kills something without you having struck at least one blow or shot, you will not be able to loot it.) I put him on passive if a lot of control is needed, such as in an instance, where I don’t necessarily want him running at things that are casting at me and then running back once he has killed them, dragging another set of mobs with him.

Learning to use your pet well in instances takes skill and practice, hunters (and locks) can cause wipes if their pets get out of control. My advice for first time instance runs is be careful, keep your pet on a tight leash, on passive, and think about dismissing him before you jump down a level (you can call him back again), so he doesn’t run around drawing mobs. You want to hold off sending him rushing in as you normally would until each mob has been pulled. 

That’s all folks! Hope this was helpful.   Want to know more?  I have one word for you – PETOPIA.   ( For all your pet info, accept no substitute (even this one!).

 Feel free to add your thoughts and any corrections.


2 responses to “FAQ for new hunters – All about pet training and taming and other need to know stuff

  1. Bluefade and redfern

    Wow, great post, wish I would have read this when I trained my first pet.

    A note about feeding the pet. When the pet is unhappy or contented or even happy, you should feed until the pet no longer recieves happiness points.

    If you watch the combat log you’ll see something like:
    Pet gains 35 happiness from eating Roasted Quail.
    Pet gains 35 happiness from eating Roasted Quail.
    Pet gains 10 happiness from eating Roasted Quail.
    Pet gains 1 happiness from eating Roasted Quail.

    Even if your pet is happy, you should continue feeding until no more happiness points are awarded, or you continually only get 1 point.

    I think it just keeps him happy longer.

  2. Excellent comment, thanks!

    There is one time in particular it is really useful to do this – when you are ‘power leveling a pet’ – i.e. leveling a lower level pet up to your level, particularly if that pet also needs to gain loyalty.

    I have definitely noticed that pets gain loyalty faster if they are at max. happiness all the time. And happiness of obviously a continuum, not just happy yes or no. So when I am trying to get a pet to increase in loyalty, I feed him every few minutes, watching the combat log, until he doesn’t increase in happiness anymore. It works really well :>)