Chapter 5 - Treats and Rewards

You can train a llama that won't take treats from you, but treats are a fast and easy way to a llama's heart, and an easy way to put him in a mood to listen to what you're trying to tell him.

COMEBEFORES - Llamas like a lot of different things - peppermints, carrot coins, oats, horse cookies. The problem is convincing them they like new things. If you're giving the llama any grain or ration, try using that to reward him. Alternately, you can chop up your new treats and mix a few in with the old ration. Probably the first few times he'll carefully eat around the new stuff, but as you cut back on the old ration and increase the amount of new treats in the pan, he'll get used to them.

AIM FOR THIS - You hold out a treat to the llama, he takes it gently from your hand and eats it.

START HERE - It isn't polite for a llama to steal food from another llama's pan, so you'll have to convince him that he can safely take food from yours. I like to start sitting on a chair in the round pen with a fairly full treat pan in my lap.

HOW TO TEACH IT - The first few times, just sit in the chair and let him eat the treats from the pan you're holding quietly in your lap. When he's comfortable with that, bury your hand deep into the treats. Sit and pretend your hand isn't in the pan while he eats. Be especially sure you don't move your hand when he gets down that far. Next time, slowly lift your hand, palm up, as he's eating the treats from the pan. As you lift up and he eats down, he'll be eating out of your hand! At first he'll probably jump back as soon as he notices your hand, but give him a chance. He'll come back. Add more treats as you need them. As he gets more confident, start reaching your hand up earlier to meet him. Soon you'll be holding your hand out to him with a few treats in it.

TRAINING TIP - It probably isn't necessary, but it doesn't hurt to let the llama stand in a pen without food for an hour or so before you ask him to do something scary like eating from your hand, especially the first couple of times you train him.