THE METHOD I'M USING
Ball games are really just a variation of retrieving. I have two types of ball games at present, one where the llamas uses his nose to propel the ball, and the other with his feet. To avoid confusion, I train the boys to do one or the other, not both!
I throw or kick the ball a few yards and it is brought back to me, not in the mouth as is a thrown glove or toy, but on the grass being propelled by the llama's nose or kicked by his foot. The goal-posts are my feet. I begin the whole exercise with making the ball an active target and progress to rewarding any sort of nudging of the ball on the ground.
I progress to rewarding any nudging/footing that leads to a movement of the ball
and gradually progress to bringing the ball back to my feet just a few inches
away. The whole process is broken down into bitesize pieces. The biggest problem
for the llama is changing direction; he literally has to position his whole body
to propel the ball in the required direction.
If you can add anything to my work or have any questions or comments, please e-mail me.
HOW WE'RE DOING
The story so far:Whilst most of this fun stuff is done with Oscar and Toby, Dillon is actually the Beckham of the herd! He loves the ball. He returns it to me from quite a distance using his nose and is quite good at positioning his body to get direction. Oscar has been trained to use his feet rather than his nose. Toby is starting on noseball! Banksy the alpaca is being trained to toss a large, soft ball with his mouth.JANUARY 25th 2016
RECENT NOTES ON PROGRESS
A new game! I've been trying to see if a camelid can be trained to head the ball (as in "doing a header"). I haven't progressed very far yet, but I am working on Toby, Oscar and my alpaca, Banksy. I began with a very soft, squeezy ball and started to touch the nose with this ball, holding it in my hand. This was surprisingly difficult as all three wanted to reach up and touch the ball whereas I wanted the nose to be lowered in readiness to receive what I hope later will be a thrown ball. Watch this space!