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Animal trainer

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Skill: Animal Trainer
Profession Ranger
Job Title Animal Trainer
Labor Animal training

Vermin catcher's shop

  • Agility
  • Toughness
  • Endurance
  • Intuition
  • Patience
  • Empathy

Animal trainer is the skill associated with the animal training labor. An animal trainer works with animals, either training wild ones or training certain species for war or hunting. They also train certain kinds of captured live vermin.

The Pets/Livestock tab of the citizen information menu (u) has a list of all animals that belong to your civilization, and are tame, trained, or trainable. Each animal on the list can be assigned a trainer, who will then train (if needed) the animal, increase its training (if not already tame) or train it for war or hunting (if selected for hunting or training). Which animals are known and how well can be checked with the "Overall Training" button in the lower right corner of the "Pets/Livestock" tab. There is no way to tame a specific type of vermin.

An animal training zone or pasture is required for all training activities for animals. Taming vermin instead requires a vermin catcher's shop.

Domesticating wild animals[edit]


The butchers have it worse, they gotta 'obtain' the dogs' leather.
Art by p3ach_tea

In order to train an animal, you must first have an animal to train, so before you can do any training, you must capture some wild animals. Which animals appear at your fortress (and thus which animals you can train, besides the subterranean creatures that are randomly present) is dependent upon your surroundings, which is in turn dependent upon the local biome or biomes, if your fortress overlaps multiple regions.

Wild creatures can only be captured by cage traps; as above-ground traffic is, as a rule, unrestricted, and as creatures can enter and exit the map from any direction, the only reliable way to force wildlife into your cages is to build a lot of them. The same is true of the caverns, although since they are usually not nearly so expansive, capturing passing creatures is a little easier; on the other hand, you have to be much more worried about exposing your dwarves to the various subterranean nasties. Note that animal traps are not used in this role, but are instead used by trappers to capture live vermin, and thus, surprisingly enough, trappers are not involved in the trapping of actual creatures.

Just because you have a creature stowed away in your cages stockpile, does not mean that it can be trained, as only creatures with the [PET] or [PET_EXOTIC] creature token can be trained. Most creatures have one of the two flags, but there are exceptions, notably some underground creatures. Sentient creatures (such as goblins or animal people), forgotten beasts and titans are among the creatures that can never be trained or tamed. Additionally, [TRAPAVOID] creatures ignore cage traps entirely. Captured war mounts and any other named enemies of your civilization can also be trained, but they will, regardless of training level, remain hostile to your civilization and will, if released from bondage, attack your units without mercy; even worse, these creatures may cause a loyalty cascade if you order your military to deal with the situation.Bug:6051 To make use of captured creatures that you cannot or do not want to train, see live training and mass pitting.


Designation Description
Wild Not Tame
Semi-wild Semi-wild
Trained Trained
-Trained- Well-trained
+Trained+ Skillfully trained
*Trained* Expertly trained
≡Trained≡ Exceptionally trained
☼Trained☼ Masterfully trained
Domesticated Tame

Once you have a captured, trainable creature trapped in a cage, you can start training it. You will need an animal training zone and some plants or meat depending on whether the animal is herbivorous or carnivorous. To have your animal trainer begin training a wild animal, use u to open the citizen information screen and select the animal menu. Scroll through the list until your captured wild animal is selected and use the whistle icon to set a trainer to train it. Note that if a caged animal is fed a plant, seeds will stay in the cage. This has no effect on training, but if you later release the animal, you will need to dump the seeds from the cage before it can be reused.

The trainer will bring food to the cage and perform the initial training, setting the animal to one of the trained levels (see table at right). A fully wild animal must be trained from its cage, but once an animal has been initially trained and it is no longer wild, it may be safely released from its cage (and preferably assigned to an enclosed pasture or restraint, to keep it hemmed in case problems arise later).

A notable exception from "training levels" are animals which are a member of a species your civilization already has domesticated. Only a few of them can occur in the wild to be captured - e.g. water buffalo and turkey. Such creatures become fully tame upon the completion of training, and after that they will never require or receive training again, even if assigned to a trainer.

Only wild animals can be trained in a cage. If you want your animal trainer to provide further training you must release the trained animal. Alternatively, with a difficult-to-train animal or a poor trainer, you may want to leave the animal in its cage. A caged animal will eventually revert to its wild state, at which point your trainer will perform the initial training again, safely giving your trainer experience and your civilization more knowledge about the animal. Note that [GRAZER]animals need a pasture to survive, and will die if left to linger in a cage for too long.

The overall difficulty and time required to train an animal is roughly proportional to its pet value. As a general guideline, animals with pet values of less than 100 are easy to train, those with values of 100+ take some effort and a few years to train well, and creatures with pet values of 1000+ such as dragons are very slow to train.

Adult trained animals will slowly revert to their wild origins over time, and must be permanently scheduled for training (through the animal status menu) to ensure they remain friendly, through regular re-training. Trained animals have a quality associated to their training that affects how long they will retain composure before reverting to the wild, but which may have other effects as well. The last state an animal reaches before it becomes fully wild is semi-wild, which prompts an announcement.

Dwarves will instinctively know when their animal training partners need retraining, and will prioritize doing so, but will obviously not be able to if they are injured, experiencing a strange mood, or are otherwise unable to reach their trainees. If you assign a single dwarf to an animal (Any available trainer is also an option) only that dwarf will ever attempt to train or retrain the creature, so care must be taken to keep your trainers healthy and available.

Trading animals brought by merchants will immediately make them belong to the receiving party. This means that if another civilization brought them as tame animals, and you buy them, they will retain their tame status and will never revert to a wild state. This is also true when you seize the animals, or kill all the merchants. Note that killing all the merchants will not make the pack animals a part of your civilization, and will become "friendly" and wander around the map. Also, animals that become yours in this way will be in cages at first, so you will have to release them in some way. Due to a bug, the only way to do this is pasturing them and then removing them from the pasture. This is very important if they are grazers as they will starve due to the lack of grass in the cage.

Animal knowledge[edit]

When training animals that your civilization has never domesticated before, successful training will result in some knowledge being transferred to your civilization every time the dwarven caravan returns to the mountainhomes. Although a number of farm animals are domesticated by your civilization from the beginning of the game, your fortress cannot individually "civilization-level" domesticate a species.1

Every tame animal job increases overall fort training points for that animal by 10, and the fort training knowledge levels are attained at 30, 100, 250 and 500 (it zeroes points when it increases level). War and hunting jobs are also worth 10 points, but a maintenance job is only worth 3. If your fort level is higher than the civ level for a given animal, 10 points of knowledge are transferred with each caravan that gets off the map (so it'd take 88 years worth of caravans to bring the civ all the way up to "expert", but just 3 years to get every subsequent fort to start at "few facts").

The fort level of knowledge has a strong effect on in-fort training. When attempting to train an animal, a skill roll will be matched against a threshold that depends on animal knowledge. For instance, if you know nothing about the animal, the animal training roll must be 30 to get past semi-wild and 100 to be masterfully trained (with 40/50/65/80 for the others). As you gain knowledge, the thresholds become lower and easier to attain:

  • "Few facts": 20/30/40/60/70/90
  • "Familiar": 15/20/30/50/60/80
  • "Knowledgeable": 10/15/25/40/50/70
  • "Expert": 5/10/20/30/40/60

The calculations for skill rolls are complicated, but by these numbers, your trainers are almost twice as good at expert-level fort knowledge, if they weren't already great trainers in their own right (in which case they'll probably crack 100 most times without help).

Announcement Training level in z screen
The dwarves of (civ) now know a few facts about (animal) training.
A few facts
The dwarves of (civ) have attained a general familiarity with (animal) training methods.
General familiarity
The dwarves of (civ) are now quite knowledgeable (animal) trainers.
The dwarves of (civ) are now expert (animal) trainers.

Taming children[edit]

Animals who can be trained and possess a child state (allowed by the [CHILD] token) can produce a fully tamed population. Note that animals cannot get pregnant in cages (in fact, this is one of the few times they can't), so you'll have to move past the initial training stage to have them.

Animals born from a partially-trained mother will not revert to a wild state while they are still children: for example, if a wild female wolf is captured and trained up to the +T+ level, and gives birth, the pups may forget this "inherited" training, but will never go lower than Semi-Wild while they're still pups. They can, and will, revert to a wild state when they become adult wolves, though going back to a fully wild state will still take some time after they've reached adulthood. The training level of the father does not count for anything when it comes to the child.

Animal children always become fully tame upon receiving training once. This not only allows making children of trained mothers fully tame, it also allows instant taming of caught animal children or of children born in captivity to fully wild mothers. Only children can be permanently tamed, and once the young animal grows up the opportunity for this will no longer be available.1 Once an animal child becomes fully tame, it will never require training again, nor will it receive any even if assigned to a trainer - this means taming children gives you a fully tame population at the cost of removing a source of experience from your trainers.

Animals in Dwarf Fortress give birth in one of two ways, either with live birth, or by laying and incubating eggs. Child-bearing animals that give birth to their young is easy: with an adjacent male of the species, children may be conceived, inheriting their mother's pasture status in the process. Egg-layers are more complicated: The female must be adjacent to a male for fertilization, there must be an open constructed nest box for the female to occupy and lay a clutch of eggs in, and they and the mother must remain undisturbed during the process as the mother must incubate her eggs; even training is inadmissible. Thus the eggs must be forbidden and the mother should have her trainer de-assigned during the duration of her stay; they also will not inherit their mother's pasture status.1 The resultant children will have the taming status of their mother when they were laid, not hatched.

Creatures missing the [CHILD] token are considered adults at birth. Because of it, they can never be rendered fully tame and will require re-training for the rest of their lives Bug:7983. Examples of such creatures include crundles, giant cave spiders and hydras. Previously dragons could not be tamed, however with the release of the steam version, they were given the [CHILD] token and are now considered adults at age 10, thus allowing dragons to be fully tamed by a fortress.

Animal AI[edit]

If a trained animal is "stray", that is, it's not a pet, it will (usually) wander around your fortress randomly, spending most of its time in meeting areas, and attacking any hostiles that it comes across or wild animals that are attacking citizens. Animals with the [LARGE_PREDATOR] token are somewhat more aggressive than animals lacking this token, and are more likely to attack hostiles, while animals with a [BENIGN] token will simply run away from any hostiles, which makes them useless for dwarven defense, but they can be used as arrow fodder to keep the enemy entertained while you're bunkering in. Grazing animals should be assigned to a pasture because they will otherwise starve to death.

A pet or work animal, if not assigned to a pasture, will alternate between following its owner and visiting meeting areas. Should their owner die, the animal may instead be seen alternating between meeting areas and visiting the site of their death (even if their body is no longer there).

Hunting/War training[edit]

Some trained animals can receive additional training for hunting or for war, for which you need a training zone and a dwarf with the animal training labor enabled. Then you can go to your Pets/Livestock list and find your trainable animal. Trainable animals are those where you see either war training or hunting training icons in the middle column. If you wish you can also select a particular trainer to perform this task with the first icon in the column.

Some domesticated animal juveniles, such as puppies, are unable to be trained until they reach adulthood, at which point they only need hunting/war training once in their training zone.

Train a hunting animal[edit]

This Animal hunts at will.

This requires an uncaged trainable animal with [TRAINABLE] or [TRAINABLE_HUNTING], an animal training activity zone, and an animal trainer. Note that an animal that is in a pasture can only be trained if the zone is also in the same pasture. Hunting animals can be assigned to follow a hunter and assist in the hunting process; once assigned they cannot be unassigned. They are intrinsically faster and more agile than a regular animal, and can sneak alongside their partner, but are not as strong as a war animal.

Train a war animal[edit]

This Animal is waiting for conflict.

This requires an uncaged trainable animal with [TRAINABLE] or [TRAINABLE_WAR], an animal training activity zone, and an animal trainer. Pastured animals can only be trained if the zone is located within their pasture. War animals are significantly stronger than their untrained counterparts; war dogs make excellent companions when starting a fortress, when you can't spare many dwarves for fighting.

Like hunting animals, they can be assigned to individual dwarves the same way, and cannot be unassigned; combined with their strength, this makes them effective expendable bodyguards for any dwarf likely to see danger or who you feel is valuable enough to be worth protecting. Even if they fail to defeat an attacker, they can often buy their charge time to escape or for additional reinforcements to arrive.


As animal trainers work with an animal, they may become bonded to it ("formed a bond with an animal training partner"), and this relationship is visible in the dwarf's relationships screen. This happens even if the dwarf is not specifically assigned to the animal and appears to disregard training quality. The death of a bonded animal results in a bad thought for the trainer ("has lost an animal training partner to tragedy"), whose exact severity is unknown but fairly significant. It is unknown whether working with a bonded animal gives a happy thought similar to the one gained from talking to a friend.

An animal trainer with a preference for the animal may adopt and name the animal at the time of training, even if the animal is not designated for adoption. This leaves the trainer highly susceptible to the bad "pet death" thought, renders the animal inedible, and eventually requires an extra coffin. It may be advisable to disable animal training on any trainer with such a preference, especially for war training.

Trainable war/hunting animals[edit]

The following creatures can be trained into war or hunting animals once they are tamed. Bigger animals tend to be stronger in combat. For comparison, an average adult dwarf is size 60,000.

Animal Size (cm³) Pet value Notes
Bobcat 8,000 75 Too small ≈
Mandrill 20,000 50 ^
Lynx 25,000 75 ^ ≈
Ocelot 25,000 100 ^ ≈
Dog 30,000 30 ^ ♪
Cheetah 50,000 200 ^ ♪ ≈
Leopard 50,000 100 ^ ♪ ≈
Jaguar 75,000 100 † ♪ ≈
Gorilla 150,000 500 † ≈
Giant bat 200,000 750 ♪ Hunting only
Giant cave swallow 200,000 700 ♪ Hunting only
Grizzly bear 200,000 500 † ♪ ≈
Lion 200,000 200 † ♪ ≈
Tiger 225,000 200 † ♪ ≈
Giant bobcat 256,320 500 ☼ ≈
Giant mandrill 341,800 500
Giant lynx 377,750 500 ☼ ≈
Giant ocelot 377,750 500 ☼ ≈
Polar bear 400,000 500 ☼ ≈
Giant cheetah 560,000 200 ☼ ♪ ≈
Giant leopard 560,000 100 ☼ ♪ ≈
Giant jaguar 750,000 100 ☼ ♪ ≈
Gigantic panda 1,160,900 1,000 ☼ ‼ ≈
Giant grizzly bear 1,700,000 500 ☼ ♪ ≈
Giant lion 1,700,000 200 ☼ ♪ ≈
Giant tiger 1,900,000 200 ☼ ♪ ≈
Rhinoceros 3,000,000 500 ☼ ♪ ‼ ≈ War only
Giant polar bear 3,268,000 500 ☼ ≈
Jabberer 4,500,000 1,500
Elephant 5,000,000 500 ☼ ‼ ≈
Cave dragon 15,000,000 10,000 ☼ ○
Roc 20,000,000 10,000 ☼ ♪ Megabeast
Giant rhinoceros 24,000,000 500 ☼ ♪ ‼ ≈ War only
Dragon 25,000,000 10,000 Megabeast
Giant elephant 40,000,000 500 ☼ ‼ ≈
☼ — Recommended choice for armies due to their great size.
† — Recommended choice for bodyguards, stalls most creatures enough to give dwarves time to escape safely.
^ — Recommended choice for fort patrols and supporting dwarves in small skirmishes. Effective in very large numbers.
♪ — Recommended hunting companions for their speed and mobility. Smaller animals also sneak more successfully.
‼ — Poor choice for training due to their voracious appetites for grass.
≈ — Possesses the [MEANDERER] token, which severely slows their movement speed. Will likely fall behind any moving squad and miss offensive combat situations due to it.
○ — Offspring are born adults and cannot be fully tamed. They also grow extremely slowly.
MegabeastsWhile extremely powerful, megabeasts are currently hostile to all military dwarves, regardless of training level.Bug:10731

Remember to keep a breeding pair out of harm's way if you want more of a particular animal, in case the ones in service die.

Training water creatures[edit]

With a great deal of effort and some clever engineering, it is possible to capture, train, and butcher water creatures.2 Water creatures can survive indefinitely in cages, but will drown at water levels below 4/7 while dwarves will cancel tasks at water levels at or above 4/7, making training extremely tricky. This basic problem can be solved with one of the more interesting bugs in the game: ghost trainers.3 It is currently unknown what bug causes this, but some animal trainers that are killed and never buried or memorialized will continue to perform their job from the grave. This removes the fundamental problem of water depth incompatibility and makes the task much easier. An easier solution, however, would be vampire animal trainers: they are unbreathing and will path through such water normally, so long as there is no flow. Taming water creatures in vanilla is fairly useless, however, as without modding they never have children, nor can they receive war (or hunting, however that would work) training.

Training hostile creatures[edit]

Training hostile creatures like enemy mounts does not cancel their hostility. While the job is completed and the animal trainer gains experience, the trained creature remains hostile to your civilization and will attack your dwarves. A creature will also be hostile if it becomes an enemy of your civilization, for instance if it killed one of your dwarves before. The rule of thumb is: if it has a name, it's hostile, don't release it from its cage. Though, if you know how it got the name, wild animals that get names from killing other named entities like forgotten beasts, invaders, uninvited guests, etc. will still be friendly after training.

However, it does seem that the offspring of hostile creatures belong to your civilization, because trained mounts amusingly disturbingly attack and subsequently kill their offspring at birth. If you are careful and ingenious enough, you can separate the parents and children at birth.

Note that hostile egg-layers, such as cave crocodiles, might not use nest boxes and therefore generate no offspring.

Handling dangerous creatures[edit]

Only dwarves with the animal trainer labor active will move non-trained (wild or hostile) captive creatures to a chain or to another cage. This restriction only applies to non-trained creatures and only to the "chain large creature" and "cage large creature" jobs. Throwing such a creature into a pit or pond can be done by anybody, and the chaining and caging of trained creatures is similarly unrestricted.

Taming vermin[edit]

First, a trapper needs to catch vermin in an animal trap. A few types of vermin can escape from wooden traps, such as the hamster, so it might be a good idea to use only metal traps. An animal trainer will train a vermin at a vermin catcher's shop. Unlike animals, vermin do not have training levels - they are either tame or not tame. Taming vermin does not pass civilization-wide experience with that vermin to the parent civilization, like taming animals does. Taming requires a food item. Vermin cannot be trained for war or hunting.

There isn't much purpose to taming vermin. It allows vermin to be adopted as pets, but few dwarves have a preference for vermin, so they will rarely be adopted. Vermin don't breed like animals do, so there is no need to have a tame pair to produce offspring. Animal dissectors can't make extracts from tame vermin, though there isn't much reason to make extracts either. Tame vermin have little value so they aren't of much use for export either. Taming vermin does give experience to animal trainers, so they can improve their skill in a fort with few animals, especially since vermin are inexhaustible.

Taming intelligent creatures[edit]

If you mod the game to have trainable intelligent creatures (or if you find a gremlin) they may be captured in cage traps and trained. However, several things differ from when training other creatures, as training sapients display a number of strange behaviors.

First off, the game will consider any trained (or semi-wild) sentient an inhabitant of your fortress (or at least partially so). This will increase your population count, which likely has the same effects as when the count is increased by immigrants arriving or babies being born. The trained creature will be considered a peasant in the z-screen. Despite this, the trained creature cannot work, as it is impossible to set any labor preferences. Neither can they be enlisted to the militia or have any pets. Once trained, they will be subject to hunger, thirst and drowsiness, and as such will require food, drink and sleep to survive. The creature will pick up and wear clothes, but only if they are the right size.

It is impossible to view their general stats screen, trying to do so will only bring you to a simple description of the creature as with any other non-inhabitant of your fort. It might not be possible to view the creature's thoughts, but they still exist, proven by the fact that the trained creature can become insane. Having the creatures socialize with your dwarves, and each other, as well as all the other countermeasures to prevent insanity seems to prevent this though. As caged creatures cannot do any of these actions, keeping trained creatures in cages for elongated periods of time is advised against.

It is normally impossible to give the trained creature a nickname, causing individuals of the same species to be difficult to tell apart, but if you train them for hunting or war and then assign them to one of your dwarves, they will obtain a name. The further implications of doing so are not known as of yet. Trained sapients may be assigned for butchering (which is otherwise impossible), but their returns are completely unusable and will just be taken to the nearest refuse stockpile to rot away.

Because they tend to go wherever they please, a trained intelligent creature will rarely be at a training zone out of their own volition, making re-training them difficult. Depending on how well they're trained, it brings the risk of them going wild again, potentially leading to their escape or for them to attack your dwarves due to becoming hostile. The animal trainer assigned to train these creatures may also be stuck at the training zone waiting for the creature's arrival, potentially leading to hunger and thirst. Making use of burrows to force the creature into the training zone is an option, as the training itself will be done as long as the creature and the trainer are within the zone for a few moments.

A trained intelligent creature will only become fully controllable if it applies for citizenship in your fortress, in which case they'll be able to perform labors and their stats screen will give you full descriptions of their person and personalities. Whether trained sapients apply for citizenship in the same manner as visitors do (2 years after becoming part of the fortress) and if they still require training after applying for citizenship requires verification.


Fishery worker