I will update this as things change.
before we begin, please read...
ALL pets have the same stats. Therefore, they will do the same DPS. The only difference between pets are their abilities and whatever specialization is chosen. Pets are almost entirely situational.
See the "What pet should I get?" part of my post for a basic gist of what pets you should use in different situations.
Table of Contents
-"What pet should I get?" PVE & PVP (+Stampede!)
-Pet Families & Their Abilities
How to tame a pet.
To tame a new pet, you first need to level your hunter at least to level 10. At that level, you get the spell tame beast, along with the ability to controll your pet (tell it to atack, folow, passive (atacks nothing unless told to), defensive (atacks only if something damages you or your pet), assist (atack what you are attacking, target changing has a small delay if the old target is still alive).
To tame a beast you need an empty active pet slot, which can be achieved by visiting a stablemaster and puting your pet in the stable (mandatory before level 18, which is when you get call pet 2 and your second active pet slot), or by waiting untill you get a new active pet slot (which happens at lv 18, 42, 62, and 82). The stable master can store up to 50 pets for you, enabling you to have up to 55 different pets tamed at any one time
(50 inactive/stabled + 5 active). If for some reason you reach your limit (it still happens, even though we nolonger are limited to 20, or 5), you can abandon your pet by sumoning it, right clicking on its health bar, and clicking abandon pet. This is permanent, to beable to call on that pet agian, you will have to go and retame it.
Once you have an empty pet slot, you go find the beast you desire to tame, cast the tame beast spell, and when it finishes, you will have tamed the pet. Now, it can fail for one of a few reasons. A) if over lv 18, you have an active pet out, gota dismiss any active pets in order to tame a new one, regardless of if you have an extra empty pet slot or not. B) some one else gets agro on it, unless you have agro (meaning its atacking you and you are on the top of its threat table), you cant tame it. Some people like to mess with hutners by taunting or attacking a beast they are trying to tame. Or if you have a friend healing you, the healer can unintentionally gain agro just by healing you. Finally C) if the pet (or you) dies (or in certain cases with certain pets having the ability to interrupt the tame beast cast, be it by stun or an actual interupt/silence mechanic), it will fail.
Tricks to avoid geting killed by the pet you want to tame involve use of snares/roots, using freezing trap to encase your pet in a block of ice, wyvern sting, and concusive shot. For most pets, this is a non issue, for some rarespawn pets (toward ice crown and cata) however, it may be needed.
Pets have their own spellbook! The Pet tab is listed in your own Spellbook (default P) and is at the bottom, between the Professions and Core Abilities Tab.
The Pet tab has a list of the pet's Basic Attacks, Special Abilities, Attack/Follow/Move To/Stay commands, Assist/Defensive/Passive Stances, and Passive abilities. Basic Attacks and Special Abilities will generally be able to be autocast by the pet (some exceptions apply). You will know if an ability is on autocast if a glowing gold border (yellow/gold dots going in one direction around the border) surrounds it. Turn off autocast simply by right clicking the ability. (it will have no dots on the border at all, let alone moving, if it is turned off).
The hunter can change their pet's specialization by going to their Talent window (default N) and going to the Pet tab at the bottom, after the Glyphs tab. Simply select the spec you would like for you pet (Ferocity, Tenacity, Cunning) and click "Learn" below the listed abilities.
Note: BM Hunters have a passive ability called Exotic Beasts that used reduce the CD of pet abilities by 30%. This is no longer true. DPS related abilities have had cds shortened, and many ccs got even longer cds.
Ferocity - The go-to DPS spec, generally preferred in PVE with some perks to PVP. Your pet will dish out the most damage in this spec, and is best when used in Instances and Raids.
Ferocity specific abilities and passives:
-Rabid - 70% increased attack speed for 20 sec. 90 sec CD
-Heart of the Phoenix - Instantly revives pet to full health. 8 min CD
-Dash - 80% increased movement speed for 16 sec. 32 sec CD
-Spike Collar - Increases Basic Attack damage, attack speed, and critical strike chance by 10%.
Tenacity - The tank spec. This is best for soloing and leveling, as the pet will take a lot of damage and this pet spec is focused on keeping aggro and pet survivability. Not advised in Instances or Raids.
Tenacity specific abilities and passives:
-Last Stand - Pet gains 30% of its max health for 20 sec. Health is lost at the end of the effect. 6 min CD
-Charge - Rushes and immobilizes the target for 1 sec., increasing melee attack power by 25% for the pet's next attack. 25 sec/17.5 sec CD
-Thunderstomp - 8 yard AOE nature damage, generates a moderate amount of threat. 10 sec CD
-Blood of the Rhino - Increases healing received by the pet by 40%, increases pet's armor by 20%, and reduces pet's chance to be critically hit by 6%.
-Great Stamina - Increases pet's health by 12%.
Cunning - This is the spec that is generally best for PVP. It provides more survivability for both the Hunter and the Pet.
Cunning specific abilities and passives include:
-Roar of Sacrifice - Protects the target, preventing critical strikes. However, the pet takes 20% of the damage the target takes during this time. Lasts 12 sec. 1 min CD
-Bullheaded - Removes all movement impairing effects and all effects that result in loss of control of the pet. Reduces the damage the pet takes by 20% for 12 sec. 3 min CD
-Dash - 80% increased movement speed for 16 sec. 32 sec CD
-Cornered - Pet deals 50% more damage and has a 60% less chance to be critically hit when the pet has less than 35% health.
-Boar's Speed - Movement speed increased by 30%.
All pet specs receive Combat Experience, which increases all damage done by your pet by 50%.
"What pet should I get?" PVE & PVP
Remember that in almost all cases as BM, Exotic pets will want to be chosen over their normal counterparts (for example, Quilen > Wolf). Different pet abilities will be listed in the next post.
Solo: Select a pet, any pet! If you kill things fast enough, go ahead and spec it Ferocity. If not, or if there's that one mob that's just giving you trouble, you can freely spec it Tenacity! When soloing instances, old raids, etc., Tenacity is almost always the way to go. Remember that Beetles and Turtles are some of the best tanking pets, due to their shield ability.
Stampede no longer matters, it is an extra damage ability that is now only slightly stronger than the damage portion of dire beast. Still worth using due to free focus cost and dealing some damage, but pet choice no longer affects this.
For a more in-depth solo guide, this sticky is very helpful:
Instances: Pick 5 buff/debuff pets of your choice, spec them Ferocity, and you should be good to go. There is no specific pet that will help you top the DPS meters - Pick one of your pets that provides a buff or debuff that your current group can't provide, and boom! This will help both you as well as everyone else in the group.
Stampede - Make sure all pets are Ferocity specced. Stampede pets can now only auto attack, bring whatever you want, ferocity spec will be somewhat stronger due to spiked collar increasing attack speed by 10%, but no other pet abilities can be used.
Raids: More than likely, your raid leader or group will let you know what buff/debuff they are missing and will ask you to bring. If all buffs and debuffs are covered, you're free to bring whatever you want!
Stampede – bring whatever, stampede pets now auto attack only.
PVP: As BM, you'll almost always want a Spirit Beast as your active pet. Shale Spiders can be pretty handy too, with 5% stats and a 3 sec stun. As MM/SV, I see a lot of hunters like to go with some form of CC pet - Crane for a sleep, Monkey for a Blind, Owl for Disarm, and so on.
Stampede - as of a recent 5.3 hotfix, stampede pets can now only auto attack, if you dismiss pets/use abandon pet trick, your extra pets can be whatever you feel is needed.