There is something that every hunter is told to do in instances. Without fail, this rule must be followed or the group and/or raid will descend upon the poor mistaken hunter in a flurry of teeth and claws and insults to the hunter’s intelligence. It is a rule of huntering that all must follow.
And I break it all the time.
Whenever I instance or raid, I keep my pet on defensive.
It’s not as huge of a sin as having my pet on aggressive, mind you. But I see it drilled into hunter’s heads everywhere, that all pets MUST ALWAYS BE ON PASSIVE OMG OR YOU’LL WIPE THE RAID, LIEK FER SRS.
The reason for hitting the baby seal is to ensure that your pet doesn’t go running off somewhere and aggro things that must not be aggro’d. The number one instance of this that comes to mind is the Baron Rivendare fight in Stratholme – you get close enough to start the encounter and the aura hits you, and your pet goes dashing off to start the encounter while the healer is afk and drinking and omg you’re all dead.
While the “all pets on passive” rule of thumb makes sense, in order to streamline the run for all involved, I have a problem with it. Mainly, it assumes – and reinforces the belief that – the hunter is incompetant and lazy.
With your pet on passive, you never have to worry about it being on the wrong target, and that is the only benefit from it being on passive. The negative aspect, however, is far more damaging to a raiding hunter – the lost dps time. How many times, with your pet on passive, have you found yourself firing away on the target with your pet sitting pleasantly by your side? As a Beast Master hunter, your pet is nearly half your dps. You cannot afford that half to be licking itself mid-combat. Not if you want to hold your own!
What I do can be tricky. It takes practice. It takes effort.
What I do is pay attention.
I put Mijikai on defensive. This means she runs out to attack as soon as I do, and it means she switches targets without me having to do it for her. This keeps her damage up, and means I don’t have to worry about sending her out every time I switch targets.
But I know the fights. I keep Mijikai on defensive during Razorscale, but I know that if she gets hit by any of Razorscale’s fire, she’ll run off to somewhere odd and stand in the fire that will inevitably be there, and die. So I keep an eye on her. I don’t send her off after each mob, but I make sure to rein her in if she strays too far.
I put her on passive – temporarily – for misdirect pulls. During Ignis, she stays on passive until the tank has aggro, then I click her onto defensive and don’t have to think about her again for the rest of the fight.
Yes, it’s harder than just clicking the pet attack button every time you want your pet sent out. But it keeps her damage up, which keeps my damage up, and lets me smirk at the pets I see idling in the middle of combat, while Mijikai grows big and red and rips into whatever’s in her way. It’s a worthwhile trade-off.