Shangrila Llamas

Clicker Clinic 2001

 Llama Clicker training - touch target

On Mother's Day weekend we held a Clicker training clinic taught by Donna Anderson.  This is the fourth clinic she's done for us and each time is better than the last.  We all had a great time and learned so much.  Some of us were repeat students and some were brand new to the clicker method.  For those of you also brand new to the concept of Click and Reward as Jim Logan calls it or Click & Learn as Donna calls it here is a brief introduction.
Clicker training uses a conditioned reinforcer, the clicker, and positive reinforcement, grain, carrots or whatever your llama will work for.  The click of the clicker tells the llama he did something right for which he will be rewarded.  You can use this method to teach a llama to touch or follow a target.  This alone is worth learning.  They will follow a target (which can be the back of your hand) over scary things like tarps or into scary places like shoots or trailers.  You can teach a llama that hates halters to run after it to touch it.  Soon the halter is a good thing, because he gets a treat if he sticks his nose in it.
On the first day of the clinic, Donna went over these basics of Click and Reward.  She taught targeting and the most important lesson, teaching a llama to stand still off lead while being touched, haltered, sheared, picking up legs, etc.
Llama Clicker training - stand still Llama Clicker training - pick up feet
She walked us through getting a llama to come over to the halter, stick his nose into the halter and stand calmly while you buckle it.
Llama Clicker training - touch halter Llama Clicker training - halter
Wonder had never seen a hula-hoop before the clinic.  In one session, she had him walking through the normal size hula-hoop.  Then she got him to step up and through the small hoop.
Llama Clicker training - hula hoop Llama Clicker training - over head
The second day was really fun for me and I believe all the participants.  After a question and answer period, getting into to some very advanced theory, we got to play with obstacles and ground driving.  Keep in mind these llamas had never been on an obstacle course.  They had never seen a tarp on the ground.  It helped that we had some veteran llama handlers such as Dale Graham and Pat and Stephanie Wunce.
Llama Clicker training - tarp Llama Clicker training - stairs
I was so proud of my boys.  They were jumping over jumps, walking through tires, walking up stairs and down ramps like they had done it all their life.  No dragging, no jumping around.  They were eager to work and happy to do whatever it took to get a click and reward.
Llama Clicker training - up stairs Llama Clicker training - down stairs

We also received a session on how to teach a llama ground driving.  Paso had never walked in front on lead much less had driving leads attached to his halter and been ask to go right or left.  It was amazing how much they accomplished in just a few minutes.  No stress just happy llamas getting to play and be rewarded.

Llama Clicker training - ground driving What a rush!  Those of you who have never tried the Click and Reward method of training don't know what you're missing.  

Wednesday, the first day after the clinic that I arrived home early enough to visit my boys.  I went down with my Clicker apron filled with food, a clicker and a target stick.  All the boys ran up to me.  I thought Wonder was going to run over me, but he stopped right in front of me and touched the end of the target stick I was holding.  Of course I clicked and gave him a treat.

They were all looking at me like what do you want me to do next mom.  So I went over to the staircase/ramp obstacle.  Domino, who had never done an obstacle before Sunday, followed me up the stairs and down the ramp for a click and reward.  This was all off lead.  I went to a harder stair obstacle that he had completed on lead, but was difficult.  He followed me up and down that.  Wonder wanted a turn so I led him through the ladder obstacle by having him targeting my hand.  And then Domino wanted a turn so I led him through the ladder.

Ishkabible had only done the tarp obstacle which we had put away so, I got him to touch the target stick and he let me stroke him in the middle of the field.  He stood perfectly still and let me stroke his neck for which he got a click and reward.  Then he let me stroke his back and hold it there for another click and reward.  This is a llama that just started eating out of my hand.  He has never been a problem to halter and is great on lead.  But he would run away if you reached out to touch him off lead.

Keep in mind this is a field full of boys all off lead, taking turns with me.  If you want to seriously work on something, I recommend separating out one llama at a time.  I was just playing and wanted to see what they would do.  It was really cool.

Emile and Bojangles were also there, but they didn't come up and try to get food from me, because they are clicker wise and knew they had to earn a click to get food.  So they just watched.

Before I left the pasture, Wonder came up and let me put my arms around him and hug him.  He used to run away from me if I looked at him.  This stuff is magic.  I get busy and forget how much fun working with the boys with the clicker is.  The clicker clinic gets me revved up again.  But this time I have some participants who live near me who have promised to come over and play with me.  We have an obstacle course set up in the field permanently, so if any one out there wants to play, come on over. 

Click here to see an article on Using Click and Reward at Public Events.
Click here to see an article on Using Click and Reward with a Tunnel Obstacle 

Click here to see an article Using Click and Reward for Pack Training NEW
 


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