COMEBEFORES – To start lead training, the llama needs to understand how to be haltered, and all the behaviours leading up to haltering.
START HERE – In the round pen.
AIM FOR THIS – The llama is comfortable with the leadshank, whether it’s tight, loose, dangling, or tangled in his legs.
HOW TO TEACH IT – Good, he’s dressed, but don’t get ahead of him. He’s got a lot to learn about leadshanks. First, he needs to be comfortable wearing the halter with a lead attached. A lead that’s heavy enough to protect your hands is heavy enough to startle him when it’s swinging off his halter. When he’s got the halter on and you’ve attached the lead, try draping it over his shoulders so he can wear it around in a pen without stepping on it or dragging it on the ground. When he tries to eat out of a pan with the lead on the halter, the hanging snap is going to startle him, so give him time to relax. Treats will help a lot in getting him over his fear of this strange thing attached to him. Next, hold the end of the lead and just walk quietly around the pen. Let him lead you, and try not to put any pressure on the lead. If he’s still nursing, put his mom on a lead and have another person walk her calmly around a small paddock. You can take the lead and just follow the baby.
POSSIBLE PROBLEM – He might panic when he feels the lead swinging off his halter. In that case, tighten the lead. That is, snug it up. You’re trying to keep it from swinging, not drag him around the pen. You could also put a plain lead snap on his halter, with no lead at all, and let him get used to that, then attach a foot-long bit of rope to the snap, then a longer lead as he relaxes.
IN OTHER WORDS – If your llama’s having a lot of trouble getting used to the halter and leadshank, you might want to skip to Chapter 19, I Wanna Touch You All Over. Working on touching with him loose in the round pen takes a little more effort than working with him tied, but the more you touch him, the more confidence he’ll have in you and your gadgets. When he can walk around the pen wearing a towel over his back or dragging a line, you can come back and start Chapter 11again.
TRAINING TIP – Lead training sounds like going for a walk, but don’t be suckered into trying to train huge chunks. Life will be easier and training will be faster if you stick with small steps. He’s comfortable in the round pen, so keep working him there until he’s good at walking on the lead in the pen.