- We all know that if an animal has been trained, life is easier all round. I knew about training dogs – we have all seen sheep dogs in action or watched obedience training on the television – but I was surprised to find that cats can also be trained. Mind you, they do tend to 'take a message and get back to you' when you call them but ours would come when we whistled and get down or stop scratching the furniture when told. Alpacas are not likely to come when you call unless you rattle a feed bucket. In fact, they often appear not to have heard you and show no reaction. However, you can train them to trust you and feel safe when you are near them or handling them. It is down to you to help them overcome their innate alarm and feeling of being threatened.
- There are different methods to use when training alpacas. This is one way to approach training which I have found successful after training over 70 alpacas. Fear of the unknown is paramount in the mind of the alpaca. Their normal line of defence is either flight (running away from) fright (standing rigid) or kushing (sitting down). These are normal ways for alpacas to cope with the stress of training. Using a non-confrontational and non-threatening approach to training allows your animal to trust you and makes it much more pleasant and rewarding. By not wrestling every time you put a halter on an alpaca, you avoid the possibility of hurting yourself or the animal. It is time-consuming and patience is needed, but the benefits of having an alpaca that happily accepts the halter and leads easily far outweigh the disadvantage of the time involved. Your alpaca will have self control when being handled or attending shows etc. and be more marketable for the pet market.