I’ll answer your questions, review safety and any other concerns before we set out.
When we first greet the llamas, keep your hands in your pockets or behind your back. Look slightly down at your feet at first, not eye to eye, which to them is a threatening posture.
We move, talk and interact slowly and calmly. We are making them feel safe. If we scare them, we lose trust and have to win it back.
Llamas greet each other by sniffing each other’s breath. Once you have approached or been approached by a llama, blow out softly from your nose or mouth. Your llama may blow back gently with his breath. This is a very good trust building exchange. He may then gently touch noses with you as sort of an Eskimo kiss. It tickles.
Stay calm, remember they don’t bite. You will eventually be able to pet them.
During this greeting, I introduce each llama by name, age, and personality. This is where you choose your partner or they choose you. I am observing the whole time and may make or suggest the matches instead.
The halter must fit up close to their eyes as they have very little bone or cartilage on their noses. If it fits improperly, they will feel that they might suffocate. For the same reason, they don’t like to be petted on the nose. Most like to be scratched or petted on the side of their neck or under their chin.
After our visitors are paired up, I review walking on a lead and around obstacles, what words they understand, and what to do if you accidentally let go of your lead.
We may do a little brushing or grooming so the llama can get used to the walker’s energy, sound of their voice, scent and feel of their touch. Then we do trial walks around some cones inside the pasture fence.
Now I decide if our visitors are ready to leave the fenced area to go for walk in the woods. This is at my discretion.