There are currently 38 verbal commands or words I have established as the core language I teach my llamas. These are broken down into 3 subgroups; basic, intermediate, and advanced.
The basic commands are those commands necessary to ensure manageability of the llama during routine procedures such as moving from one area to another, weighing, grooming, shearing, nail trimming, shots, etc. To be truly manageable, the llama would need to be haltered, led from the pasture to some specified location, led into a chute (or other designated area), remain calm while being restrained to the degree appropriate for the intended procedure to be accomplished, expected to stand still while different parts of its body are being touched, and be expected to calm down if it gets panicky.
The basic commands are further broken down into 4 subgroups: 1)Llama ID/feedback 2)Calming commands 3)Body parts 4)Basic maneuvering 1)Llama ID / feedbackcommands: These three commands give the llama its individual identity and tell the llama he is either doing a correct action or doing an incorrect action. When a llama truly understands these three commands, he understands that he is being taught. You will be truly surprised at how eager llamas are to learn from us.
Llama’s name – It is important that each llama knows his own name. It is a preparatory command that tells the llama to pay attention to you and that further commands, instructions, or information is forthcoming. Llamas also very quickly learn what the other llamas’ names are. I have found that by specifying a particular llama in a herd using their name, the other llamas remain calm and this in turn helps keep the designated llama calm. I have also been able to successfully give verbal commands to individual llamas in a pack string by using their name and then the command. This is also quite helpful if you have changed the order of the pack string and can verbally tell each llama to follow a particular other llama by using names and commands. You are in essence verbally telling them the new pack string order.
Good girl / boy – Praise is a critical feedback command. It tells the llama that he is doing what you want him to do and it encourages him to continue doing that action in response to that particular command. Make sure, though, that you only use it when they are actually doing the correct action for the command given otherwise you will confuse the llama. Change your verbal command if necessary to match their action if you want to give praise. For example, if your command was “follow” and the llama has glued himself to the spot and will not budge, consider changing your training goals to work on “stand” and any other commands that require the llama to stand still. Tell him “stand” (which he is doing perfectly anyway), praise him thoroughly, and watch how quickly he responds! In the meantime, you will need to figure out if he did not do the initial command because he did not understand what to do or he was afraid to do it and adjust your training method accordingly.
No – This command tells the llama they are not doing the correct action for the command given. Don’t confuse this with a reprimand. You are not trying to punish the llama, you are just giving him non-judgmental feedback that he is doing an incorrect action for the command given. Think of Good Boy and No like playing the game of hot/cold. In the game, the closer you are to the object you’re searching for the more the other person is say warm, warmer, hot, hotter, etc. This is your feedback that you are on the right track. But feedback of cold, colder, frozen, you’re in Antarctica, is not punishment. It’s just telling you you’re way off track. And wouldn’t it be nice if you did get way off track, if the other person would just set you back in the warm spot to start again. If your “no’s” are becoming non-stop, re-think your training method – either he didn’t understand or he was afraid – and put your llama back in the warm spot to start again.
2) Calming commands – These commands are used to keep a llama calm or calm a llama down that has gotten panicky.
Whoa – The llama is already in motion and you want all movement to stop. Generally used when the llama is walking, trotting, or backing and you want him to stop. Note that this command coincides with commands used for driving llamas and should be used with that future intent in mind.
Stand – Usually the llama is already stopped when using this command. It is used extensively when you need the animal to stand still while some sort of activity is going on around or with the llama such as grooming, trimming toes, standing profile for halter class, someone is going to pet the llama, etc.
Easy – The llama may or may not already be in motion. Use this command when you want the llama to slow down, settle down, or you want his next action to be on a “smaller scale” than what he might decide to do. Some examples of when you would use this command include when the llama is walking with you but getting ahead of you, or the llama is starting to panic and act agitated, or when asking the llama to step down from a higher elevation and it is probable that he will take a flying jump instead of gently stepping down.
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