Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Lead/halter training

Cast - Me (Mum) and Daughter with occasional cameos from 21mth old.
Starring - Hamish and Sherman (Aplacas)
Hamish - getting ready for halter training
So remembering that we are new to this, Daughter and I have been trying to Halter/lead train the boys.  Reminding myself of how I have lead-trained various puppies over the years, I thought that this would apply to the Alpaca's. 
Of course it won't as pups soon realise that wearing a collar and lead means that they will go outside - the Alpaca's are already outside.  Plus, pulling an Alpaca on a lead means that it will come come closer to you, and that is exactly what they don't want to do.  A handful of chaff (apple, carrot, calf-muesli etc) just isn't motivating enough!

This is the way the boys decided the lesson was going to go.  After herding and capturing Hamish, Daughter and I went to fix his halter on at which he took great offence and spat forward.  Trying not to breathe in the residue mist of Alpaca spit, Hamish received a smack on the nose for spitting and his halter was put on.  We then attached the lead, and I apprehensively let him go waiting to be spat at.  Hamish gave me a disgusted look and immediately flopped down on his stomach and lay his neck along the floor - REFUSING to get up!  What does one do with a limp Alpaca?  Baby-talking didn't work, Daughter clapping behind him didn't work, so I tried pulling him.  He simply slid across the grass and refused to get up, so now I had a sliding, limp Alpaca.
That was enough of this behaviour, so I decided on a full-physical lift and grabbed the fleece on his rump, WOW! Hamish moved!!  He stood up, giving me that teenage reproachful as if to say, 'you didn't have to do that' and then stood there with his face turned away.  I again tried talking to him, cajoling him, and then down-right bribing him, but he wouldn't move.  When I pulled him, he dropped down again! 

I decided that I needed to do more research on halter training.  To end the lesson well, I pulled his fleece on his rump again, so at least he was standing - gave him a cuddle and unhooked his lead.  I then looked at Sherman who was quaking in the corner.

After capturing Sherman, he stood beautifully whilst his halter was fitted, and I made an example of him to Hamish with over-the-top praise (not that Hamish took any notice).  We fitted Sherman's lead and I waited for him to throw himself all over again.  To our suprise, Sherman struggled only slightly, then just lowered his head to the floor.

OOOhhhhhh, poor thing!  He looked so sad!  I pulled him a little, but he struggled and then put his head down to the floor again.  It was the depression tactic!  We tried a few more times, and then let Sherman off the lead.  He happily went to the feed bowl again, and shoved his face into the chaff - so obviously didn't suffer any long-term trauma!

Hmmmm, I will be researching tonight on how to halter-train - if anyone has any advice - it would be greatly appreciated!!!!


  1. Hamish is such a character! I love his tactics! I am sure I have worked with children who have used exactly the same behaviours (although I was not trying to harness them). I think he was hoping you would give up and go away. He doesn't know you well enough yet!!

  2. Yes, we have seen these behaviours before, but I could usually motivate with an M&M! My research hasn't given me much more advice, although one site said to tie them up against the fence for a couple of hours, (how is that for creating an aversive!?)poor things!