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April 18, 2005  Overcoming Shyness in Your Alpaca


Llama Training

I have read your book and literally sat in my pens with the herd and tried to implement your movements and ideas, and although it has seemed to help, I would so love to feel confident in my understanding and my husbandry approach. I have a little boy who was born on September 4th 04. He was born early in the morning and was up dry and nursing. He is an absolutely beautiful boy and people always want to touch him. The problem is that he just hates to be touched at all. Its like he has been tortured and we have never done anything but are sweet to him. 

We live in NH and I look for your seminars and have never seen one anywhere close. Do you ever plan on coming out this way?

Llama Training

Help is on the way!  I will be doing a clinic in the Burlington Vermont area on the 16th and 17th of July.

• July 16-17 Brandon Vermont(Burlington area) Two-day basics clinic for alpaca and llama enthusiasts. www.mapleviewfarmalpacas.com Contact Debbie Bratton by email: mvfalpacas@earthlink.net or phone: (802)2475412

In the meantime let me offer a bit of help.  First off your little boy is not unusual and in fact it is really better that he is a bit shy.  Overly outgoing boy babies are a potential problem that could be serious.  If you are interested in more about that I have written a number of articles some of which are on my website.  The issue is also addressed in my book.

Now as far as a shy baby that doesn't like to be touched... you didn't mention what it is specifically that he is objecting to however if he is uncomfortable with handling you should probably dial down your expectations and take it slower.  Avoid the trap of thinking that if you just persist he will eventually settles down.  Persist in doing what he doesn't like and what is not working and he will get worse not better.

Are you working with him inside a catch pen of the correct size? Is his mother in the pen when you are handling him?  Are you catching him with a rope to start with?  Do you understand how to use the rope to help him stay in balance?  Have you been picking him up?  Many alpaca owners routinely pick new babies up to weigh them, to show them off or just for fun.  I know it is tempting and seems harmless enough but if you look at this practice from a baby alpaca's point of view it must be terrifying.  A platform scale and a barn layout that allows you to herd a baby across the scale just after his mother is a far better arrangement.

I know you have read my book.  People that come to clinics often remark that the techniques in the book made much more sense after attending a clinic.  Learning to handle animals is like learning any other physical skill and there is no substitute for hands on coaching.

There are however many role playing exercises in the book that are designed to teach these physical skills.  If you read the book and haven't done these exercises I would suggest doing them.   These exercises are really an important part of learning the work and many people read them and stop there.... so to keep you busy before July have another read and do the exercises.  My videos may also help you to see how the physical part of the work actually happens.  I am also happy to respond to more specific questions about what you are doing that might be causing the problem personally.

Good luck.




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