Our Llama Training DVDs

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Click on the image above to find out more about Llama Training with Bobra Goldsmith, or on the one below to find out about Training Llamas to Drive.

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Clicking on the image above takes you to our t-shirts, sweatshirts, mugs, tote bags, notebooks, calendars, and more with this design.... Clicking on the image below takes you to all our llama designs on various items.

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Shadow was growing up quickly. We sometimes took him out for a walk with Posey: She would be on lead, nibbling here and there, and he would be loose. He didn’t let her out of sight for long, but he was quite adventurous, going off on little sorties, eating and looking.

Bobra Goldsmith, who had been training llamas for years, had taught us some training techniques, and we were preparing for a videotape we would soon be making about her methods, based on attentive observations of llamas. She had a lot of respect for what the llama was experiencing.

“Let him think about this before asking more of him,” Bobra would say as a llama was, for example, putting his front legs tentatively into a trailer. She used a lot of encouraging words, and was quick to praise the animals. Much of this made sense to me from having trained Cider and our young Australian Shepherd, Teddy Bear.

I hadn’t done a great deal with Dancing Cloud the year before. We sold him soon after weaning. The snow had been several feet deep that winter; we’d simply taught him to accept the halter, to lead a little, and to load into a van.

I had bigger plans for Shadow. I wanted to train him to be comfortable around people, so we could use him in the hikes. I had visions of taking him to schools, nursing homes, parades. Because of the early bottle-feeding, I was a little nervous about any potential problems he might develop. That became a good excuse to keep–rather than sell–him. Since he turned out to be a little too knock-kneed to be a good stud, we had the vet geld him. That further reduced our concerns about the bottle-feeding.

When he was about five months old, we began training him. He didn’t seem to mind being haltered, but he objected to being confined in the barn with us and away from Posey. Once we began taking him for walks, he enjoyed himself a lot. Shadow trusted us more than Dancing Cloud had the year before; perhaps those early days in the barn were working for us.

When I compared these training sessions with dog training, the difference was striking. He learned so much more quickly than they. I was still working on “come,” “sit,” and “stay” with Teddy Bear, over and over again, as I’d been doing off and on for months.

Kelly had some deadlines on the film animation he was doing, so I took over most the training. While Kelly sat drawing, Shadow and I went for walks. As we went past the house one day, he discovered the llama who lives in windows. Shadow stood perfectly still, about four feet away from the bank of windows in our living room, and gazed at his reflection for half a minute. I had noticed that he responded to new situations with stillness.

“Maybe it’s time to take you in, little guy,” I said. I opened the front door of the house and walked in. Shadow balked. I pulled on my end, and his feet came up on the outside stoop. Shadow resisted until I had pulled his head through the door, and then he just walked in. He didn’t inspect things; it seemed as though he was feeling out the space. “It’s just like a barn,” I told him, “only you don’t go to the bathroom in it.” I knew he wouldn’t go in the house, since there wasn’t a dung pile already started.

I led him out the front door–he cleared the sill and front stoop in a graceful leap. Going in again, he balked but by the fourth time in, he was relaxed about it. Bobra was right; llamas learned things with just a handful of repetitions.

“There’s an old poem by Robert Louis Stevenson that fits you,” I said. ” ‘I had a little shadow that went in and out with me.’ ”

For our next outing, “Car time,” I thought, and walked him down our driveway toward the paved road. A small car came by, and Shadow watched it but showed no fear. The next car was louder, and Shadow tried to run away, jerking the lead rope hard.

“That’s a perfectly logical reaction,” I told him, “but you don’t have to do that.” For three more cars, he still fought the rope. When the next car came, he stood still, looking at me. “Very good, let’s go do something else.” We wandered around our front meadow, where he could still hear the cars approaching, and see them through the trees. He was alert to their presence, but not upset by them.

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