I understand that for normal animals this is necessary, but what about the animals linked to the player? All the rules I see say Handle becomes a free action and Push becomes a move action, but it is never said if the player still has to roll to command their animal companion.
- Anybody can ask a question
- Anybody can answer
- The best answers are voted up and rise to the top
You do still have to roll. The important detail is that you get a +4 circumstance bonus to Handle Animal checks with your companion, and you only need to get a 10 (12 if the animal is wounded) to use tricks your animal knows.
That means you only need +7 in the ability between skill ranks and Charisma, and it becomes impossible to fail for tricks your animal knows (remember that a 1 is not an automatic failure on a skill check). For your animal companion, a handle is a free action, so it doesn't take any time from your character to do it.
For pushing it's a lot harder to make it a guaranteed success, but as you get bonus tricks for your animal companion it tends to come up pretty rarely in my experience. If you do have to do it, it's a move action for your companion, so you can do it and still cast a spell or attack something in a round.
Yes, you do. Since there's no rule saying you don't, then QED. I GM for a druid PC where we use that rule, and after a couple levels it doesn't come up much - it's basically "spend an action if you want the animal to do something totally freaky it wouldn't normally," which is fair.