Saturday, November 9, 2013

Alpaca Cross Training

I love seeing my alpacas learn new things.  Even though I'm not surprised at their intelligence anymore, I still get a real sense of excitement when I try something new with them and they get it.  Some things I train are for fun and to stimulate their brains.  Being so smart, they can get easily bored.  I have some pasture space for my herd.  Some have bigger pasture areas to graze and others have more limited space.  Those with more limited space especially enjoy the training sessions that are just for fun.  Even fun turns into much usefulness because they become so much easier to handle and social.  I think it helps my males fight a little less because it gives them something else to go do.  I notice some of the boys playing with the toy I hung on the fence for them.  Even without carrots, I will see them go over and chew at it.  It gives them something else to do. 

Last night, I saw Olivier hanging out at the toy after I was done feeding the herd their pellets.  He looked at me and the toy as if to ask if we could play the touch the toy game.  I had some leftover pellets in my pail so I came into his pasture.  The others were still polishing off their bowls so we had one one one time together.  His face lit up as we began and he went right to touching the toy.  He would hit it faster and faster as I clicked with my tongue each time he touched the toy.  Alpacas will communicate with you that they want something, like pellets at supper time as they hang out near their bowls or at the hay bin if they know it's that time.  But to see an alpaca stand by a toy and ask to play the clicker game is just one of the coolest parts of clicker training. 

I'm heading to a workshop today to learn more about training my dog, Harper.  We are working on becoming a therapy dog team.  She is perfect for that role with her stereotypical Golden Retriever personality.  We both get a lot out of our classes and I get the added bonus of getting ideas to bring back to the farm and trying with the alpacas.  It's my version of "Cross Training."  I love going to a workshop occasionally.  Seeing what other great instructors do helps me get better and gets me thinking outside the box more.  Since there aren't very many alpaca clicker training workshops, I have to go to either dog or equine classes and then I have to figure out how to transfer what I've learned to working with the alpacas.  I enjoy that challenge.  Hopefully, some new blogs will be coming soon with what I've learned and tried on the herd here at Hum Sweet Hum!

Harper excited to head to class!

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