This is a guide to pet tanking in Mists of Pandaria.  It is not intended for advice on soloing, PvP, PvE, leveling, etc.

Pet Choice

Turtle or Beetle.  Simple stuff. You need the damage mitigation more than any other pet ability.

Pet Management

This is really at the heart of tanking.  What the hunter does with his regular dps shots is secondary.  Below I go through each ability and stance to highlight their use in tanking.

Pet Abilities

  • Growl -THIS IS NOW A TAUNT.  Which is probably good news for instances, and bad for raids where the taunt will likely be ignored by bosses.
  • Bite – On auto-cast, regardless of situation
  • Charge – On auto-cast
  • Thunderstomp – Serviceable but not great AoE threat.  Turn off for single target encounters.
  • Last Stand – A glorious ability for when there are damage spikes on your pet.
  • Cower – Should be macro’d to Mend Pet for mitigation.

Tier Abilities

  • Blink Strike – A fantastic ability.  Use liberally.
  • Lynx Rush – Taken in place of Blink Strike when you’ll need to hold numerous mobs at once.


  • Move To – Generally an awful ability.  Our pets stop attacking during this, will turn in odd directions, and depending on their stance they often stop moving to their destination to begin attacking again.  Use for minor positioning only.
  • Assist – A tricky stance for tanking, because we don’t always want our pet to follow our targeting.  Use sparingly.
  • Defensive – My default stance, it’s useful for the many fights where we need to keep our pets on a boss but switch to dps an add ourselves (or vice-versa)
  • Passive – Instead of “Move To” for moving a boss quickly (which almost always takes too much time), I’ve found it far easier to be near where I want my pet to be, then switch him to passive to pull the boss back.  Inelegant, but effective.
  • Stay – Worth mentioning only because casting abilities like Blink Strike or Kill Command will break the “Stay” command, regardless of stance.  If you MD a mob or boss to your pet at a specific spot, make sure they’re in place before casting those abilities.

Tanking Rotation

Rather than build a priority list from scratch, I’ll say this: Do your BM dps rotation with the following exceptions:

  • You do not want to cast Focus Fire.  This increases our overall dps but hurts our pet’s dps.
  • Mend Pet should be cast every 10 seconds, to maintain uptime.  This ability is modified by various glyphs to tick for more than it would at its base value.
  • Macro Mend Pet to Shell Shield or Cower, or both (though some mitigation is lost when the two abilities overlap)
  • When you have multiple mobs up, your rotation is often a literal rotation between targets, leaving your pet on each only long enough to get a few attacks or a Kill Command.  During such target switching, you should not be concerned with your personal dps.


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  1. Flint says:

    After thinking about it for awhile and with the growl change I am wondering if Blizz has finally decided to make pet tanking an actual viable grouping. It seems pet tanking is becoming more prevalent and common so I think it stands to reason that the more its bought into the more Blizz needs to react either making it go away or making it a viable option.

    • Arth says:

      Well, “more viable” and “true tank class” are still different things. To really make it a tank class, we’d need a dedicated tree. The angry mobs that would form outside of Blizzard’s offices if BM got nuked in dps means that we’ll likely never be completely on par with other tanks. But closing the gap somewhat is a realistic goal.

    • Arth says:

      We may also be biased due to our surroundings. I doubt anyone, anywhere, is discussing pet tanking as much as WHU members. :-)

      • Flint says:

        Good point. I know inside WHU its a common thing. Even with DHS its pretty common, but I don’t know how it is outside those circles.

  2. Lokrick says:

    One note on Growl: I believe the taunt effect adds to but does not replace the additional threat; it still does the bonus threat. Thus, it should remain as useful on bosses as it ever was.

    • Arth says:

      If true, this is excellent news. I had meant to test it, but didn’t get to it before posting this article. I’ll try to confirm this in the coming days/weeks though. Thanks!

  3. Darkynhalvos says:

    Something I’ve noticed, and was thinking of as a possibility: Misdirect is not on the GCD. What would you think of macroing it to Mend Pet if you prefer to cast Shell Shield/Cower separately (thinking single-target boss fights)?

    • Arth says:

      After the pull, MD isn’t really worth it because of the threat fade. We’ll also rarely be glyphed for it, since there’s more useful options. So…maybe? But more than likely we’ll just want to ignore MD outside of pulling and target switches.

      As for casting mitigation cooldowns separately, that’s always a valid option. I prefer to be slightly lazy with macros, because it ensures I’m not forgetting them.

  4. Darkynhalvos says:

    On the subject of Growl, the tooltip states “Your pet growls at the target, GENERATING THREAT and taunting the target to attack the pet”. If this is accurate, it means Growl still has the threat increase it always had, which is great for us.

    • Arth says:

      Yup. At the moment it remains untested, and all we know for sure is that it acts as a taunt. I’ll update this once we know more.

  5. Dargno says:

    I tend to set up poweraura’s or preferably weak aura’s to show if mend pet is active, if cower, last stand and shell shield are active, and what the current time remaining on mend pet is. This way i have 100% control of the defensive abilities of my pet. I have seperate buttons for these skills as well. An additional benefit of BM is the 25% cooldown reduction on those abilities as well.

    By the way just like the spirit beast heal trick, using 5 turtles/beetles and swapping them is now even more viable on single target with growl as a taunt, enabling an insane allmost-100% uptime on either cower or shell shield. This is especially usefull for (extreme) soloing, but can have it’s uses in groups as well (maybe between pulls).

    You can even start with a non-tanking pet and pop BL or another usefull buff that last for 1+ minute, swap pet and pull. I created an easy pet swap macro to dismiss and call pet 1-5 in order so i could just keep hitting that button to swap. Tried that on patchwork to solo him after some video’s.

    Also a MD macro for focus or pet (use focus target, if no focus: target pet, if no pet: target targettarget) is a real help, even if it’s temporary threath.

    And yeh i’m all for hunter pet tanking and warlock demon tanking (with the glyph) for that matter, but that’s off-topic XD

    I’ll try to set up my weakaura again and post the whole string for other uses if i can find the time before MoP for that…

    • Arth says:

      Interesting idea with tank swapping, though it’s predicated on our Growl-taunt working on bosses and being a “true” taunt that brings them to top threat and doesn’t fade (in the past, our Taunt ability was not a true taunt and faded). Like you said, potentially interesting for soloing as well.

      I like the concept though, tricky as it may be in practice.

  6. Dargno says:

    Might want to add that for pure tps a cat or spirit beast in tenacity mode might be king, due to the 10% extra pet damage done due to the mastery buff if that’s missing… might be good enough for use on trash, and hardcast the buff and swap to turtle/beetle on bosses… You can also use a cat/SB as buff-bot but i can see the nonstop swapping is a bit annoying.

    Last stand scales with mend pet btw… making our mend pet ticking 30% harder as well :) or at least that was the case before 5.0.4

    • Arth says:

      Last Stand has always worked like that, to my knowledge. It should also work well with the new Exhilaration talent in our tree.

      If people want to tank trash, that’s cool, but anything that can be tanked with a cat doesn’t need internet writeups on min-maxing. Threat is always manageable, and the buff is nice but also won’t save a pet that’s pulling too-low threat. Hardcasting before a boss pull is a fun idea, much like PvP’ers have done with certain buffs before an arena, so I’ll mention it in future articles if it proves to be viable. But for simplicity’s sake and to avoid confusion – many of our readers aren’t regular tanks – I try to recommend the best practices for the vast majority of situations, and little else.

      • Dargno says:

        What i ment with trash, is that if you’re dedicated-tanking an instance, and you need more aggro on trashpacks… that 10% extra pet dps might be the needed 10% tps.

        Swapping turtles/beetles between trashpacks for more buff uptime could be viable though since that only takes like 1-2 secs max and gives extra uses on both cower and shell shield.

        Not sure btw if readiness also resets pet cooldowns… anyone knows? else i’ll test tonight :)

  7. Banard says:

    Turtle or Beetle?

    There is no choice…take a beetle and name him juice.


  8. Steelhide says:

    Dont forget to mention that pets benifit from our SPEC swapping as well. You can have one spec as a DPS spec, the other as a tank spec, and your pets spec changes as well. So you could have all your pets set as Ferocity while in your DPS spec, and when you swap to your tanking spec, all the pets can be retrained to Tenacity, and when you swap back to your DPS spec, the pets will automatically swap back to Ferocity with no retraining needed.

  9. bahzob says:

    Arth, back on the BWD raid someone asked if there was an addon to help with tracking pet health as part of healing rotation. I think that particular problem should be gone now (?) since pets get more health when spawn.

    But just in case it hasn’t and/or you need similar thing in future take a look at “Ovale Spell Priority”. It has a functionality to create complex user scripts including if/then logic that should allow you to do what you need.