What we require
before llamas graduate from basic training
1. Standing calmly when approached in a catch-pen
area or other enclosure smaller than a pasture.
2. Calmly accepting an arm gently positioned
around their neck when in the above situation.
3. Standing calmly in the above situation
while being touched on any part of their body.
4. Calmly accepting a halter.
5. Walking calmly with a human partner on
a loose lead (that is, no dragging, tugging, or rushing ahead).
6. Standing calmly while short-tied.
7. Standing calmly to allow all four feet
to be picked up, inspected, and have toenails trimmed.
8. Standing calmly while short-tied for routine
grooming (shearing falls into the next, or "elementary school,"
9. Social desensitization to the normal things
a llama might encounter in the shared environment such as children,
dogs, motorized vehicles, bicycles, rural mailboxes (yes, some
think that these are the boogieman), etc.
10. Loading into a trailer or another type
of vehicles such as a pickup or van (ability to load into many
different types of vehicles is the next, or "elementary
11. Intact males MUST learn that there is
a time and place when hormones are allowed to control their behavior
(little or no learning is taking place when a llama's focus is
clouded by hormones). Walking responsibly while on the lead no
matter what distraction is present is basic training for all
intact males -- those who do not succeed become geldings.
There is more, but this will give you a good
idea of both what we require and, more importantly, what llamas
can easily be expected to do. A llama that has mastered these
and other basic requirements is quite adequately prepared for
more advanced activities, which can then be learned with much
greater ease. There is really no end to the levels of training
achievement you may reach as you and your llamas seek new challenges
in your relationship together. Just some of these are cart driving,
packing, performance showing, off-lead obstacles and dressage,
and many other areas that are only limited by our own imagination.
Whatever level we are working on, we find
it important to keep in mind that llamas are very intelligent
beings that can be taught responsibility for their own actions.
Understanding their own instinctive behavioral responses is part
of our responsibility to them. Careful study of their
inter-herd behavioral responses can provide invaluable insights
which can greatly inhance human/llama interactions. We also find
it extremely important to keep in mind that the llama and human
are working together -- the llama is not working
"for" the human.
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