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Handle Animal (Cha; Trained Only)

You are trained at working with animals, and can teach them tricks, get them to follow your simple commands, or even domesticate them.

Check

The DC depends on what you are trying to do.

Task Handle Animal DC
Handle an animal 10
“Push” an animal 25
Teach an animal a trick 15 or 201
Train an animal for a general purpose 15 or 201
Rear a wild animal 15 + HD of animal
1 See the specific trick or purpose below.
FAQ/Errata

2 Does training an animal using Handle Animal to be Combat Trained grant it Light Armor Proficiency?

No, using Handle Animal to train an animal, or mount, in this way does not grant it a free bonus feat. It is not unreasonable, however to assume that an animal specifically designed to be ridden (such as a horse or dog) could be purchased with Light Armor Proficiency as one of its feats (swapping out Endurance or Skill Focus respectively) for the same cost.

[Source]

Common Uses

Handle an Animal

This task involves commanding an animal to perform a task or trick that it knows. If the animal is wounded or has taken any nonlethal damage or ability score damage, the DC increases by 2. If your check succeeds, the animal performs the task or trick on its next action.

Push an Animal

To push an animal means to get it to perform a task or trick that it doesn’t know but is physically capable of performing. This category also covers making an animal perform a forced march or forcing it to hustle for more than 1 hour between sleep cycles. If the animal is wounded or has taken any nonlethal damage or ability score damage, the DC increases by 2. If your check succeeds, the animal performs the task or trick on its next action.

Teach an Animal a Trick

You can teach an animal a specific trick with one week of work and a successful Handle Animal check against the indicated DC. An animal with an Intelligence score of 1 can learn a maximum of three tricks, while an animal with an Intelligence score of 2 can learn a maximum of six tricks.

Common Tricks

The following tricks can be taught to animals by training the animal for a week and making a successful Handle Animal skill check against the listed DC.

Aid (DC 20): The animal can use the aid another action to aid a specific ally in combat by attacking a specific foe the ally is fighting. You point to a particular creature that you wish the animal to aid, and you point to another that you want it to make an attack roll against, and it will comply if able. The normal creature type restrictions governing the attack trick still apply. Source: PZO1140

Attack (DC 20) The animal attacks apparent enemies. You may point to a particular creature that you wish the animal to attack, and it will comply if able. Normally, an animal will attack only humanoids, monstrous humanoids, giants, or other animals. Teaching an animal to attack all creatures (including such unnatural creatures as undead and aberrations) counts as two tricks.

Bombard (DC 20): A flying animal can deliver projectiles on command, attempting to drop a specified item that it can carry (often alchemist’s fire or a similar splash weapon) on a designated point or opponent, using its base attack bonus to determine its attack roll. The animal cannot throw the object, and it must be able to fly directly over the target. Source: PZO1140

Break Out (DC 20): On command, the animal attempts to break or gnaw through bars or bindings restricting it, its handler, or a person indicated by the handler. If the animal cannot break the restraints by itself, its attempts grant the restricted creature a +4 circumstance bonus on Escape Artist checks. Furthermore, the animal can take certain basic actions such as lifting a latch or bringing its master an unattended key. Weight and Strength restrictions still apply, and pickpocketing a key or picking any sort of lock is still far beyond the animal‘s ability. Source: PZO1140

Build Simple Structure (DC 25): The companion can build simple structures on command, limited by its natural abilities and inclinations. The companion is able to build only structures that creatures of its type would naturally build on their own, and this trick merely allows the handler to direct the companion on when and where to build such structures. For example, a spider could be commanded to spin a web between two trees, but it could not be made to create a hammock or a tent out of silk. Similarly, a beaver could be ordered to make a dam or lodge, an alligator a dome-shaped nest, and any burrowing creature a small tunnel or hole. In general, this process takes 10 minutes for each 5-foot square the structure occupies, but depending on the terrain and the type of structure, it might take as little as 1 minute or as much as 1 hour or more, at the GM’s discretion. Only companions that naturally build structures can learn this trick. Source: PZO1140

Bury (DC 15): an animal with this trick can be instructed to bury an object in its possession. The animal normally seeks a secluded place to bury its object. an animal that knows both the bury and fetch tricks can be instructed to fetch an item it has buried. Source: PZO1140

Cocoon (DC 15): The companion can cocoon an object or a helpless or willing Huge or smaller creature in webbing. The amount of time this takes depends on the size of the creature or object to be cocooned, as outlined on the following table. The cocoon has hardness 2 and 10 hit points. A creature trapped within the cocoon is effectively pinned, and it can attempt an Escape Artist check or combat maneuver check as a full-round action to escape (DC = 20 + the companion’s CMD). Alternatively, a DC 25 Strength check can break the cocoon. The companion must know the spin silk trick before it can learn this trick. Source: PZO1140

Target Size Time to Cocoon
Tiny or smaller 1 minute
Small or Medium 10 minutes
Large 1 hour
Huge 4 hours

Come (DC 15) The animal comes to you, even if it normally would not do so.

Defend (DC 20) The animal defends you (or is ready to defend you if no threat is present), even without any command being given. Alternatively, you can command the animal to defend a specific other character.

Deliver (DC 15): The animal takes an object (one you or an ally gives it, or one that it recovers with the fetch trick) to a place or person you indicate. If you indicate a place, the animal drops the item and returns to you. If you indicate a person, the animal stays adjacent to the person until the item is taken. (Retrieving an item from an animal using the deliver trick is a move action.)

Demolish (DC 15): The companion can be commanded to attack and damage objects and structures. A companion must know the attack trick before it can be taught the demolish trick, and the companion must be trained to attack creatures of all types. The companion’s handler can direct it either to make natural attacks against the object in question or to make a Strength check to attempt to break it (if applicable). Source: PZO1140

Detect (DC 25): The animal is trained to seek out the smells of air currents, alchemical items and poisons, unusual noises or echoes, and other common elements that signify the presence of potential dangers or secret passages. When commanded, the animal uses its Perception skill to try to pinpoint the source of anything that strikes it as out of the ordinary about a room or location. Note that because the animal is not intelligent, any number of doors, scents, strange mechanisms, or unfamiliar objects might catch the animal’s attention, and it cannot attempt the same Perception check more than once in this way. Source: PZO1140

Down (DC 15) The animal breaks off from combat or otherwise backs down. An animal that doesn’t know this trick continues to fight until it must flee (due to injury, a fear effect, or the like) or its opponent is defeated.

Entertain (DC 25): The animal can dance, sing, or perform some other impressive and enjoyable trick to entertain those around it. At the command of its owner, the animal can attempt a Perform check (or a Charisma check if it has no ranks in Perform) to show off its talent. Willing onlookers or those who fail an opposed Sense Motive check take a –2 penalty on Perception checks to notice anything but the animal entertaining them. Once an onlooker observes an animal’s entertain trick, that creature cannot be distracted in this way by the same animal for 24 hours. Tricksters and con artists often teach their animals to perform this trick while they pickpocket viewers or sneak about unnoticed. Source: PZO1140

Exclusive (DC 20): The animal takes directions only from the handler who taught it this trick. If an animal has both the exclusive and serve tricks, it takes directions only from the handler that taught it the exclusive trick and those creatures indicated by the trainer’s serve command. An animal with the exclusive trick does not take trick commands from others even if it is friendly or helpful toward them (such as through the result of a charm animal spell), though this does not prevent it from being controlled by other enchantment spells (such as dominate animal), and the animal still otherwise acts as a friendly or helpful creature when applicable.

Feint (DC 20): The companion is trained to feint against opponents. A companion must know the attack trick before it can be taught the feint trick, and it performs feints only against targets it would normally attack. Source: PZO1140

Fetch (DC 15): The animal goes and gets something. If you do not point out a specific item, the animal fetches a random object. Source: PZO1140

Flank (DC 20): You can instruct an animal to attack a foe you point to and to always attempt to be adjacent to (and threatening) that foe. If you or an ally is also threatening the foe, the animal attempts to flank the foe, if possible. While animals following the attack trick will flank when convenient, this trick instructs them to flank even if doing so denies it a full attack or puts the animal companion at an inconvenience or at risk, such as from attacks of opportunity, dangerous positioning, or difficult terrain. The animal must know the attack trick before it can learn this trick, and it performs it only against foes it would normally attack. Source: PZO1140

Flee (DC 20): The animal attempts to run away or hide as best it can, returning only when its handler commands it to do so. Until such a command is received, the animal does its best to track its handler and any accompanying creatures, remaining hidden but within range of its sight or hearing. This trick is particularly useful for adventurers and thieves in that it allows the animal to evade capture, and then return later to help free its friends. Source: PZO1140

Get Help (DC 20): With this trick, a trainer can designate a number of creatures up to the animal’s Intelligence score as “help.” When the command is given, the animal attempts to find one of those creatures and bring it back to the handler, even if that means journeying a long distance to the last place it encountered the target creature. Source: PZO1140

Guard (DC 20) The animal stays in place and prevents others from approaching.

Guide (DC 15): The companion can serve as a guide to a character that is blinded or otherwise unable to see. While serving as a guide, the companion remains adjacent to the guided creature at all times, readying an action each round to move when that creature moves. This allows the guided creature to automatically succeed at Acrobatics checks to move at more than half speed while blinded. Additionally, the companion identifies obstacles in the guided creature’s path and pushes them, pulls them, or otherwise signals to the creature how to avoid them, allowing the guided creature to locate and move around obstacles such as hazards, opponents, and other terrain features as though she were able to see them (though she can’t distinguish between obstacles). Finally, while serving as a guide, the companion indicates to the guided creature the presence and direction of any adjacent allies, allowing the guided creature to pinpoint the locations of such creatures. The companion can serve as a guide only as long as it is able to see in some fashion, and its ability to detect and avoid creatures and obstacles is limited by what it is able to perceive normally. Source: PZO1140

Heel (DC 15) The animal follows you closely, even to places where it normally wouldn’t go.

Hunt (DC 20): This trick allows an animal to use its natural stalking or foraging instincts to find food and return it to the animal’s handler. an animal with this trick can attempt Survival checks (or Wisdom checks, if the animal has no ranks in Survival) to provide food for others or lead them to water and shelter (as the “get along in the wild” use of the Survival skill). an animal with this trick can use the aid another action to grant a bonus on its handlers Survival checks for these purposes. Source: PZO1140

Intimidate (DC 15): The companion bares its teeth, barks, bristles, growls, or otherwise threatens a creature you designate, or, alternatively, it can be trained to do so when it encounters any creature besides its handler. The companion takes a –4 penalty on Intimidate checks against creatures other than those with the animal or humanoid types unless it has also been trained to attack creatures of any type. A companion that knows this trick automatically uses the aid another action to assist Intimidate checks attempted by its handler, provided that it is within 15 feet of its handler at the time and has not been ordered to perform another task. Source: PZO1140

Maneuver (DC 20): The animal is trained to use a specific combat maneuver on command, even when it naturally wouldn’t do so (animals typically use combat maneuvers only when using a monster ability to make a free combat maneuver, since otherwise it would provoke an attack of opportunity). an animal must know the attack trick before it can be taught the maneuver trick, and it performs maneuvers only against targets it would normally attack. This trick can be taught to an animal multiple times. Each time it is taught, the animal can be commanded to use a different combat maneuver. Source: PZO1140

Mark Territory (DC 25): Whether by spraying musk, rubbing its back against trees and rocks, or simply howling loudly, the companion lets other nearby animals know that it has claimed an area. By spending 1 hour performing this trick, the companion can mark an area of up to half a square mile in this fashion. If it does so, after 24 hours, whenever there would be a random encounter within that area that involves a wild animal or other creature of Intelligence 2 or less (including vermin but not other mindless creatures, such as oozes and mindless undead), there is a 25% chance that the encounter doesn’t actually occur, as creatures might be warded off by the markings. The companion must renew any territorial markings at least once per week, or they lose their effectiveness. There is also a 10% chance per week that the markings attract the attention of a powerful predator, which actively seeks out the companion to challenge it (and its master) for the territory. Source: PZO1140

Menace (DC 20): A menacing animal attempts to keep a creature you indicate from moving. It does its best to dissuade the target, but it attacks only if the target attempts to move from its present location or take any significant action (particularly a hostile-seeming action). As soon as the target stops moving, the animal ceases attacking but it continues to menace. Source: PZO1140

Milk Venom (DC 20): The companion can be coaxed into providing a single dose of venom on command. This process takes 10 minutes, and it requires a vial or similar container in which to store the poison. A companion that has been specifically trained to be milked of its venom never bites, stings, or otherwise poisons its handler when being milked, although the handler must still succeed at a Handle Animal check to successfully harvest the venom (see Harvesting Poisons). A companion must have the poison ability to be taught this trick. Source: PZO1140

Perform (DC 15) The animal performs a variety of simple tricks, such as sitting up, rolling over, roaring or barking, and so on.

Pose as Scenery (DC 20): The companion freezes in place, seeming to be a mundane plant rather than a plant creature. The companion must have taken root in order to use this trick. It attempts a Disguise check with a +8 circumstance bonus, opposed by the Perception checks of observers. If it succeeds at the opposed check, the observer mistakes it for an ordinary, harmless plant. The companion must have the take root trick in order to learn this trick. Only plant companions can learn this trick. Source: PZO1140

Receive Spell (DC 25): The companion has been trained to be the recipient of a specific spell (chosen at the time the animal is taught the trick), allowing it to fully take advantage of the spell’s effects. The spell should be one that grants the companion an ability it might not normally be intelligent enough to make use of or one that it might not even realize it has (such as air walk ). The companion is able to recognize when it has been affected by this spell and can take full advantage of the spell’s effects. At the GM’s discretion, a companion can also be trained to receive certain nonspell effects, such as those granted by an elixir of fire breathing. The companion can be taught this trick multiple times; each time it learns this trick, it becomes trained to utilize a different spell effect. Source: PZO1140

Rescue (DC 20): The companion has been trained to drag its handler or another creature that the handler designates out of danger and to a safe place in the event that the handler or creature is incapacitated. If a creature that the companion is defending is rendered helpless or is slain, the companion will carry, drag, or otherwise move that creature out of danger. If the companion knows the get help trick, it will attempt to bring the creature it is rescuing to one of the creatures designated as “help.” Otherwise, you can designate a single location in advance as a safe place, and the companion will attempt to bring the creature it is rescuing to that place. If it is unable to do either of these, the companion simply moves the creature to the nearest location of relative safety. A companion must have the deliver and guard tricks in order to learn this trick. Source: PZO1140

Seek (DC 15) The animal moves into an area and looks around for anything that is obviously alive or animate.

Serve (DC 15): An animal with this trick willingly takes orders from a creature you designate. If the creature you tell the animal to serve knows what tricks the animal has, it can instruct the animal to perform these tricks using your Handle Animal bonus on the check instead of its own. The animal treats the designated ally as friendly. An animal can unlearn this trick with 1 week of training. This trick can be taught to an animal multiple times. Each time it is taught, the animal can serve an additional creature you designate.

Sneak (DC 15): The animal can be ordered to make Stealth checks in order to stay hidden and to continue using Stealth even when circumstances or its natural instincts would normally cause it to abandon secrecy.

Speak (DC 25): The companion is able to communicate very simple concepts through barks, gestures, whistles, or similar actions. The companion’s vocabulary is extremely limited, generally restricted to “yes,” “no,” and counting up to three. The companion is also able to recognize and respond to up to two specific questions per point of Intelligence. The companion does not so much understand the words as recognize the sound of them, and it responds accordingly. This trick does not actually increase the companion’s capacity to understand concepts and ideas; it can be taught a way to communicate the concept of “food,” for example, but it won’t distinguish cooked food from raw food, and it might not even recognize as food anything that is not part of its own diet. A companion must have an Intelligence score of 2 or higher to learn this trick. Source: PZO1140

Spin Silk (DC 20): The companion can create strands of delicate yet incredibly strong silk. Harvesting the silk takes 10 minutes, and it can be done once per day. This silk functions identically to a silk rope. The companion can produce a total number of feet of silk equal to 10 times its Constitution score per day, which can be divided as the handler chooses in 10-foot increments. Silk produced in this way degrades into uselessness after 24 hours. Only companions with the web ability can learn this trick. Source: PZO1140

Stay (DC 15) The animal stays in place, waiting for you to return. It does not challenge other creatures that come by, though it still defends itself if it needs to.

Subdue (DC 15): The companion can attempt to subdue opponents. Once the command is given, the companion makes all its natural attacks as nonlethal attacks (taking the typical –4 penalty on attack rolls when using normally lethal attacks) until ordered to do otherwise. Source: PZO1140

Take Root (DC 15): The companion extends its roots into the soil beneath it, anchoring itself in place and drawing water and nutrients from the soil. Taking root is a full-round action that provokes attacks of opportunity. While rooted, the companion cannot move, but it can otherwise act normally and gains a +4 bonus to CMD to resist bull rush, drag, overrun, reposition, and trip attempts. If the companion remains rooted for at least 1 hour, it absorbs enough water and nutrients to feed itself for a day. A separate command causes the companion to uproot itself as a full-round action. The companion can take root only in areas of soft soil. Only plant companions can learn this trick. Source: PZO1140

Track (DC 20) The animal tracks the scent presented to it. (This requires the animal to have the scent ability)

Throw Rider (DC 15): The animal can attempt to fling a creature riding it to the ground. Treat this as a trip combat maneuver that applies to all creatures riding the animal, and that does not provoke attacks of opportunity. An animal that knows the throw rider and exclusive tricks can be instructed to attempt to automatically throw anyone other than its trainer who attempts to ride it.

Watch (DC 15): The animal can be commanded to keep watch over a particular area, such as a campsite, and to raise an alarm if it notices any dangerous or sizable creature entering the area. Source: PZO1140

Withhold Venom (DC 20): The companion can be ordered to avoid injecting poison into creatures it strikes with whatever natural attack would normally deliver venom. As long as the companion has been ordered to withhold its venom, successful hits with that natural attack deal damage as normal and convey all other effects that they normally would, but they do not expose the target to the companion’s poison. Only companions with the poison special ability can learn this trick. Source: PZO1140

Work (DC 15) The animal pulls or pushes a medium or heavy load.

Train an Animal for a Purpose

Rather than teaching an animal individual tricks, you can simply train it for a general purpose. Essentially, an animal’s purpose represents a preselected set of known tricks that fit into a common scheme, such as guarding or heavy labor. The animal must meet all the normal prerequisites for all tricks included in the training package. If the package includes more than three tricks, the animal must have an Intelligence score of 2.

An animal can be trained for only one general purpose, though if the creature is capable of learning additional tricks (above and beyond those included in its general purpose), it may do so. Training an animal for a purpose requires fewer checks than teaching individual tricks does, but no less time.

General Purpose DC
Combat Training2 (or “Combat Riding”) 20
Fighting 20
Guarding 20
Heavy labor 15
Hunting 20
Performance 15
Riding 15

Air Support (DC 20): An animal trained in air support knows the attack, bombard, and deliver tricks.

Burglar (DC 25): An animal trained as a burglar knows the come, fetch, maneuver (steal), seek, and sneak tricks. You can order it to steal a specific item you point out.

Combat Training (DC 20) An animal trained to bear a rider into combat knows the tricks attack, come, defend, down, guard, and heel. Training an animal for combat riding takes 6 weeks. You may also “upgrade” an animal trained for riding to one trained for combat by spending 3 weeks and making a successful DC 20 Handle Animal check. The new general purpose and tricks completely replace the animal’s previous purpose and any tricks it once knew. Many horses and riding dogs are trained in this way.

Fighting (DC 20) An animal trained to engage in combat knows the tricks attack, down, and stay. Training an animal for fighting takes three weeks.

Guarding (DC 20) An animal trained to guard knows the tricks attack, defend, down, and guard. Training an animal for guarding takes four weeks.

Heavy Labor (DC 15) An animal trained for heavy labor knows the tricks come and work. Training an animal for heavy labor takes two weeks.

Hunting (DC 20) An animal trained for hunting knows the tricks attack, down, fetch, heel, seek, and track. Training an animal for hunting takes six weeks.

Liberator (DC 25): An animal trained in liberating knows the break out, flee, and get help tricks.

Performance (DC 15) An animal trained for performance knows the tricks come, fetch, heel, perform, and stay. Training an animal for performance takes five weeks.

Riding (DC 15) An animal trained to bear a rider knows the tricks come, heel, and stay. Training an animal for riding takes three weeks.

Servant (DC 20): An animal trained as a servant knows the deliver, exclusive, and serve tricks.

Rear a Wild Animal

To rear an animal means to raise a wild creature from infancy so that it becomes domesticated. A handler can rear as many as three creatures of the same kind at once. A successfully domesticated animal can be taught tricks at the same time it’s being raised, or it can be taught as a domesticated animal later.

Action

Varies. Handling an animal is a move action, while “pushing” an animal is a full-round action. (A druid or ranger can handle her animal companion as a free action or push it as a move action.) For tasks with specific time frames noted above, you must spend half this time (at the rate of 3 hours per day per animal being handled) working toward completion of the task before you attempt the Handle Animal check. If the check fails, your attempt to teach, rear, or train the animal fails and you need not complete the teaching, rearing, or training time. If the check succeeds, you must invest the remainder of the time to complete the teaching, rearing, or training. If the time is interrupted or the task is not followed through to completion, the attempt to teach, rear, or train the animal automatically fails.

Retry?

Yes, except for rearing an animal.

Modifiers

  • Low Intelligence Non-Animals You can use this skill on a creature with an Intelligence score of 1 or 2 that is not an animal, but the DC of any such check increases by 5. Such creatures have the same limit on tricks known as animals do.
  • Animal Companions A druid or ranger gains a +4 circumstance bonus on Handle Animal checks involving her animal companion. In addition, a druid’s or ranger’s animal companion knows one or more bonus tricks, which don’t count against the normal limit on tricks known and don’t require any training time or Handle Animal checks to teach.

Special

Untrained If you have no ranks in Handle Animal, you can use a Charisma check to handle and push domestic animals, but you can’t teach, rear, or train animals. A druid or ranger with no ranks in Handle Animal can use a Charisma check to handle and push her animal companion, but she can’t teach, rear, or train other non-domestic animals.

Handle Animal Unchained

Source PFU

About This Section Optionally, a character who reaches 5, 10, 15, or 20 ranks in a skill unlocks various bonuses and abilities unique to that skill. The unchained rogue uses these rules extensively, but others can gain access to them with a new feat.

In this system, characters unlock additional abilities when they attain 5, 10, 15, and 20 ranks in a skill. The skill unlocks system interfaces with the unchained rogue to make the rogue the true master of skills.

Skill unlocks give characters new abilities and ways to use their skills upon reaching 5, 10, 15, and 20 ranks in a skill. Any character with the Signature Skill feat can earn skill unlocks for a single skill, and they are a prime feature of the revised version of the rogue who uses her rogue’s edge ability to gain skill unlocks for several of her most iconic skills. Alternatively, you might make skill unlocks a universal part of the game, but you should be aware they add significant power and flexibility to skills, so giving them for free to all classes would grant power boosts to other highly skilled classes such as the investigator and bard, particularly in comparison to the rogue. Another alternative is to eliminate access to the Signature Skill feat, limiting skill unlocks to rogues and rogues alone.

With sufficient ranks in Handle Animal, you earn the following.

5 Ranks: Creatures you have trained gain a +2 bonus on Will saves when adjacent to you.

10 Ranks: Creatures you have trained gain a +2 bonus on Will saves whenever you are within 30 feet and clearly visible. You can teach a trick in 1 day by increasing the DC by 20.

15 Ranks: You can train an animal to understand your speech (as speak with animals) with 1 week of effort and a successful DC 30 Handle Animal check. Its actions are still limited by its Intelligence. You can teach a trick in 1 day (increasing the DC by 10) or 1 hour (increasing the DC by 20).

20 Ranks: You can make your speech understandable to any animal for 24 hours with a successful DC 30 Handle Animal check (DC 40 for magical beasts or vermin). You can teach a trick in 1 day, 1 hour (increasing the DC by 10), or 1 minute (increasing the DC by 20).

Section 15: Copyright Notice

Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook. Copyright 2009, Paizo Publishing, LLC; Author: Jason Bulmahn, based on material by Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, and Skip Williams.