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How do I halter train a llama or alpaca who won't allow touching

Discussion in 'Behaviors & Handling Techniques - Llamas and Alpac' started by Bluekat2u, May 8, 2017.

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  1. May 8, 2017
    Bluekat2u

    Bluekat2u Exploring the pasture

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    How should I begin halter training 2 skittish rescued llamas and 2 rescued alpacas that don't allow touching? One of each will sometimes come eat grains from the feed bucket I'm holding, and they will follow me almost close enough to touch when I feed them, but no-touchie! I read the siggestion to buy the expensive camelid companion book, but I still have to pay for supplies and can't afford the book for a while. They are in a 1 acre pasture with all the birds they guard (geese, turkeys, ducks, chickens) but we've not been able to afford fencing supplies, we just now got some extra field fencing and we're planning to build a feeding enclosure (previous post suggested 14x14 enclosure?) To get close enough to them to touch them. Their nails need trimming very badly, they need shearing and they've not had any shots, but the mobile vet around here won't do any of those without halter training I'm told. Any advice is super welcome! Hate doing things on a budget but I have no choice.
     
  2. May 8, 2017
    norseofcourse

    norseofcourse Herd Master

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    Does your library have any llama or alpaca books? Sometimes if they don't, they can get some through an inter-library loan.
     
  3. May 9, 2017
    purplequeenvt

    purplequeenvt True BYH Addict

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    Build yourself a smaller "catch" pen in the corner of your pasture. Start off by leaving it open and feeding them their grain in the pen (leave it open while they eat). You will probably have to walk away to get them to go in for their feed at first.

    After they are relatively comfortable going into the pen to eat, you can start closing the gate. This is just to get them used to the pen.

    To get them into the pen for working them, push them gently along the fence line and into the pen.

    For halter training, start by getting them used to the halter going on and off their face. Wrap one arm around the neck to hold on to him and quietly bring the halter up and onto the nose. Don't buckle the halter on yet. Hold it there for a few seconds and then remove from the face. Continue doing this a few more times. Once he is doing ok with the halter going on and off, buckle the halter on for a few minutes. Take the halter off before releasing from the pen.

    After you've done all that, you are now ready to train them to walk on a lead.

    Start by putting a little pressure on the halter. The animal will probably fight back against the pressure. Don't pull or yank, just keep steady pressure until the animal moves even the tiniest bit forward (it can be as little as picking up a foot). As soon as that happens, immediately release the pressure. Give him a second and then apply pressure again.

    As things progress, start asking for more. Instead of just lifting a foot, ask for an actual step. Once he's taking a step, ask for 2 steps. And so on.

    The other helpful thing to do is desensitization. Once you've gotten him halter and lead trained, tie him to the fence and start petting. Begin on the neck and stroke downwards toward the shoulder. Move on to the shoulder and back. Most lamas don't like their butts being touched so watch out for kicking and spitting.

    For desensitizing the legs, start at the shoulder and rub down. Stop rubbing and go back to the top of the should at the point where he starts getting nervous about being touched. Try to work a little further down each time you rub.

    When he's ok with you touching his legs all the way down, work on teaching him to pick up his feet. To do this, run your hand down his leg until you get to his ankle. Lean slightly into the shoulder (or hip if working on a back leg) to push him off balance a bit, softly grab his ankle and lift the foot. As soon as that foot comes up, release the ankle and start again until you are able to pick up the foot and hold it for a minute without him struggling. Repeat on all four feet.

    I would always say "foot" each time I picked up a foot. Eventually he'll learn that when you run your hand down his leg and say "foot", he needs to pick his foot up.

    I don't have llamas anymore, but I used to have quite a few and did most of their training myself.