Animal Handling by Ability

I am reading over an Animal Handling thread on Reddit, as I wanted others’ takes on the use of the skill since the PHB can be a bit limited.

Animal Handling by Ability

Back by popular demand is this thread that shows you examples of how to use different Abilities in your skill checks. Today, we will learn how a muscle-thinking barbarian or a friendly bard approach and deal with their animals.

Strength: One could take on an Animal Handling check based on Strength to pass a disciplinary action to an animal without having it turn against you. This can only be done if the animal already is friendly towards you, since any other way it would definitely bite your face off. For instance, punishing a Basilisk, Griffon, or Rust Monster (All of which the Monster Manual states can be trained, the first two only from birth, if I’m not mistaken) could require such check, after they do something wrong. If the check succeeds, it understands not to do it again, at least for the rest of the day, if it just barely fails, mercy is given and the creature didn’t even felt you. However, if you fail by 5 or more, the creature can become hostile towards you.

Dexterity: Thinking about this check, I believe it can change depending on the size of the creature. If it is your size or smaller, you can use Dexterity to corner it and not let it get away, but beware that creature prone to violence will strike if cornered. However, on bigger creatures, I would use Dexterity to determine if you can guide or ride them properly, including trying not to fall from it. However the latter can be replaced by Acrobatics.

Constitution: I can only think of really extreme situations in order to resist some very extreme things, like being able to remain close to a terrible stench, trying to pet a spiked animal or other weird and probably unnecessary situations.

Intelligence: As opposed to the Nature skill, you could use Intelligence for Animal Handling when trying to remember an aspect of a particular beast, such as recognizing it after a long time, remember a particular command it obeys or where has one seen that particular creature before.

Charisma: Using your Charisma to handle a wild animal should consist of two different approaches - being openly friendly, as to call shy creatures out of hiding, or trying to appear stronger, to make pack beasts, such as wolves, respect you as its superior. Doesn’t mean they’ll follow you, though, just respect you.

So these are my interpretations on how to diversify Animal Handling. What do you think? Would you think anything is out of place? Would you add any situation to this roster? How would this impact your gameplay?


A response further down on the page shares:

Strength (Animal Handling) could also be a show of dominance. Much as many creatures play fight, or true fight, as part of their group or family, a PC could wrestle with an animal not to do damage, but to assert over it. This would likely be an opposed check, and proficiency indicates knowing what kind of display the animal recognises.

Intelligence (Animal Handling) I could see relating to recalling behavioural quirks and cues. For example, a dog wagging its tail is meant to mean it is happy, but for a cat it means it is agitated. A human showing their teeth means they’re smiling and happy, but a fox bearing its teeth is a warning sign.

Dexterity (Animal Handling) I suppose could also be used in a (play) fight, such as how a bullfighter plays with a bull. Again, in an instance where you don’t want to cause damage, but instead engage the creature in activity it’s familiar with. Animal handling relates specifically to understanding how the creature acts and reacts to better weave around it.