Dogs are a man’s best friend. When it comes to a farm, a dog can be a very useful asset, such as for herding animals, guarding them, and being good company. Llamas can also be sociable animals and are calm and gentle, just like dogs can be.
Instinctively, llamas and dogs will respond to other animals, and as a dog is smaller than a llama, they may be more vulnerable. We will take a look at how you can help both llamas and dogs live well together.
Signs Dogs Can Live with Llamas
Llamas are peaceful, quiet animals that get along with many others, including dogs. Dogs can seem at ease and be playful around llamas. If the relationship is going well, you will see your dog show friendly behavioral traits, such as wagging its tail.
If a dog barks, it can be a sign that they're doing a job. For instance, on a farm it maybe they are signaling that they are getting animals to move. However, if your dog is barking and not been given a job, this may show that they are feeling stressed, which in turn will stress the llamas too, so you’d need to be aware of these different situations.
Dogs and llamas will have their own areas where they like to exercise, sleep, and eat. In a relationship where a dog and a llama get on, you may find that your dog will locate a spot where they can be with their llama friend, but not be too close so that they get hurt in any way.
One thing to be aware of is a dog’s natural predatory instincts, and this is in relation to baby llamas, otherwise known as crias. Near crias, be aware of a dog that may jump, growl, stare, or have its ears dropped, as this could mean a cria could be in trouble.
On the whole, you can tell if your llama and your dog have a good relationship, as you will see the dog wagging their tail, them playing together, following each other, or resting together.
History of Dogs and Llamas
As societies grew and changed, dogs began to play a vital role in the farming industry. Dogs helped humans to herd, manage livestock, and guard items such as food from wolves and many other animals. A dog’s instincts became used to serve humans, and if the intention was to work a dog to herd, then a dog in this scenario has been bred to view livestock as prey.
Although this dog will not hurt the animals, it has been trained to use its natural hunting instincts to guide animals. When it came to guarding animals, a dog that is smart was needed so that it could be raised amongst the animals and see these animals as part of its pack. This way, the dog would protect them. The natural instincts of a dog can determine whether their relationship with other animals, such as llamas, will be peaceful.
Ultimately it was historically fairly uncommon for dogs and llamas to cohabitate but as natural domestication and farming of llamas has become more widespread, it’s become more common.
Science Behind Dogs Living with Llamas
Most dogs have relationships with other animals due to their links with farming and with evolution. Dogs have learned to work with humans and their genes have adapted too. They have evolved to have different temperaments in domestication which makes cohabitating with other animals more natural for them; for example, with llamas.
Although there is no biological reason they should get on, it shows that with excellent training and safe interactions, most dogs should be able to overcome some of their natural instincts and learn to love their llama counterparts.
Training Dogs to Live with Llamas
One of the best rules of thumb to make your environment harmonious is to make sure that your dog responds to your commands and is well-behaved. Your dog needs training from an early age, and you need to train your dog to be confident in understanding basic commands before you introduce him to any llamas.
There are some basic commands that you must make sure that your dog knows before they are introduced to the llamas:
Sit – all dogs need to be able to sit down when commanded to do so.
Quiet – barking can irritate other animals and can cause a negative reaction.
Down – this position is calming and prevents other animals from feeling agitated.
Come – a dog should be able to come to you even if there are distractions around.
Leave it – this will teach your dog not to bother something.
Manners on a leash – make sure that your dog is under control; this is especially useful in new environments.
Drop it – this command will make sure your dog does not take something away that he should not have.
Stay – this is important so that you can work with your dog from a safe distance.
Go to mat – this makes sure that your dog knows where to sit to keep safe.
When you first introduce your dog to your llamas, you need to make sure that your dog is on a leash and under control, and that the llamas are all in a boxed off area or are securely tied. Begin by allowing them to smell each other and get used to each other’s scents. Slowly, increase the time that they spend together and their proximity to each other.
Training should always include praise and positive reinforcement, as well as boundaries that are set in place so that the situation is under control for the dog, the llama, and for you.
By Charlotte Ratcliffe
Published: 04/19/2018, edited: 04/06/2020