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Training and Handling

Is it Hard to Train an Alpaca? 

 
Understanding Alpaca body language, behavioral traits and herd dynamics are all fundamental to the proper training and handling of your Alpaca.

As herd animals, they are genetically ‘programmed’ to live in a cooperative family group.  Each Alpaca has a hierarchy in the herd – and, unlike humans, the ones at the bottom of the hierarchy are just as happy as those at the top.  Knowing your place in the herd and behaving accordingly are the answer to both safety and food accessibility if you are an Alpaca.

Alpacas are curious, intelligent animals. Each has a distinct ‘personality’ that is unique to that individual – much like us.  Knowing what is ‘normal’ for your own Alpaca and how to spot distress or illness will help you keep your Alpaca healthy and happy for many years.
In addition, understanding herd behavior, the natural tendencies of herd movement and how an individual within that herd moves will help you create good farm design and handling techniques, so you can more easily ‘move’ your Alpacas when and where you need to – safely, easily, and efficiently.

Learning Alpaca body language and behavior is easier than you might imagine. We offer training and handling lessons to each buyer, to make sure you understand and can appropriately respond to your Alpaca. After all, we want happiness and success for both you and our Alpacas who leave our farm.

A well-behaved and easily handled Alpaca is a safe Alpaca. Would you prefer to pay your Veterinarian to watch while you chase your Alpaca around the pasture? (This can get costly) It is much more cost-effective to have a quiet, trusting animal, so the Veterinarian can do her job (vaccinations, health maintenance, etc.) efficiently. By learning a few wonderful ‘tricks’ of herd management, you and your visitors / Veterinarian will get far more enjoyment from doing even the most routine tasks with your Alpacas.

What does it mean to be a leader? A good herd leader (you will take this role with your Alpacas) is quietly and confidently in charge. Because Alpacas are prey animals, too much waving of your arms or nervous movements make them afraid – your hands look a bit like Mountain Lion paws and agitated movement is often the precursor to being eaten in the wild. For that reason, Alpacas do not respond well to being grabbed at. If you are efficient and quiet with them, and assume they will do what you wish, they typically will. Being consistent and fair will make handling your Alpaca a joy.

Alpacas are docile and almost always cooperative – If you behave in a manner which encourages their good behavior. Any unwanted behavior can usually be thwarted quickly if you get to the cause of that behavior and make appropriate changes. Alpacas need to respect your personal space – they don’t like to be shoved or stepped on and it is reasonable that you don’t either. If you are clear about this, they will understand and accept your authority.

Our Pet Alpacas undergo a thorough and rigorous training and safe-handling program (see Alpacas as Pets page for a detailed description of our program) designed to create a respectful, gentle and easy to handle pet. They are shown to respond to kindness, respect and fairness by a leader – even a child.

Do you need help learning how to handle or train your Alpaca? Whether you purchased the animal from us, or have an Alpaca from another herd and are having a ‘communication issue’, call us. We offer classes and individual training sessions. Most issues can be solved in just a few simple lessons.

 

Updated April 27, 2018