A star is born
Let’s be honest, Dogmeat is not a terribly efficient companion. He’s kind of a bullet sponge, he certainly distracts the enemy, but beyond being a loud melee unit, albeit a charming one, he simply doesn’t do enough to make keeping him as your companion a worthwhile option.
I’ll admit that I have tried to take the Attack Dog skills in Fallout 4, with almost every character, hoping that one day I’ll understand how to be a better pet owner, that one day his amazing potential as the Sole Survivor’s best friend will come shining through.
(Dogmeat enjoying some downtime with favorite stuffed teddy bear)
I’ll tell you right now it never has; but there are some fun ways in which you can make Dogmeat a regular Rin Tin Tin. I started a Dogmeat focused playthrough, I grabbed any gear I could find in Sanctuary, made a beeline for Dogmeat, and away we went, never to return to a settlement again and completely ignoring the story. It was just me and my pup out in the wasteland fending for ourselves.
(A great way to witness Dogmeat in all his glory is to enter vats before he completes an awesome take down to view it in slow mo)
We came across a pack of feral ghouls and this is where the fun begins. Ghouls are awesome attack dog practice because they are a) incredibly annoying so you are ready to kill every last one of them lest they swarm you, and b) they can easily be crippled.
(Dogmeat having the time of his life with some crippled feral ghouls)
The second point is key, for a Dogmeat playthrough I have found it to be deeply satisfying to just protect your ole pal from the dangers of enemies by focusing on crippling limbs and letting Dogmeat handle the rest. If they are pummeling him with a baseball bat, shoot’em in the arm, if they’re ghouls shootout a leg and leave’em for Dogmeat to dispense them at his leisure.
Give’em some armor, a teddy bear, and stimpacks when needed
Go out and try your hand at making Dogmeat the hero, it can be terribly tempting to take the lead and just kill all the enemies yourself; but taking the time to see your scrappy dog sprint across the battlefield and leap at an enemy, mauling them to death, is a thing of beauty.
Have you mastered the art directing your companions in Fallout 4? Do you find the techniques to be worth the time needed to get used to directing them,? Or do you play like I do, for glory and simply let your companion revel in your awesomeness? You can read more about my first playthrough in my article The world that he wants: the aftermath of siding with Shaun, and about my character vs roleplaying article Consumed by the Commonwealth: Resistance is futile. I welcome discussion on this topic and if you have experiences of your own you wish to share please do so in the comments below, or write in to firstname.lastname@example.org.