How To Train a Camel

camel psycology camel training & handling
How To Train a Camel

Whether camels are kept for pleasure, milking, or operational purposes like tourism, all camels benefit from training. Not only does it strengthen their bond and trust with humans, but it also enables safe and effective handling and management, particularly in situations such as parasite management and veterinary care.

By establishing strong foundations from the outset, both camels and handlers can thrive in a less stressful environment, fostering mutual understanding and respect.

Let’s discover the five steps in basic camel training.


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Each camel possesses its own unique personality, yet there is a prevailing trait among them: they are timid in nature. Despite their large stature, camels are not in need of harsh or heavy-handed training; this is a common misconception. The myth of camels being aggressive or spitting creatures often stems from mishandling rather than inherent behaviour. Instead, camels respond best to gentle handling, characterised by patience and persistence.

[Video intro]

Camels thrive on routine, quickly learning and expecting patterns in their interactions. Therefore, it's imperative to establish correct training and handling methods from the outset to avoid confusion or potential challenges in the future.

Due to a camel’s intelligence they are relatively easy to train once you are well researched, educated, informed and have acquired a skill set in which the camel will understand. My style of camel training and handling helps break down the barriers between the two species (Human and camel) to gain mutual ground for a harmonious relationship. Although camel training is not without its challenges, it is an extremely rewarding process that creates lifelong bonds between camel and handler, which is why I believe it’s essential that the camel owner or primary caretaker undergo the training with the camel initially. 

Camel Training Objectives

Training these remarkable animals establishes the groundwork for a lasting bond and relationship. Through training, camels come to recognise their handlers as affectionate companions, fostering trust and mutual understanding over the long term.

Training camels is an immensely rewarding endeavour that lays the 

groundwork for a lasting bond and relationship between humans and these majestic animals. Camels possess a remarkable ability to discern whom they can trust and to what extent, often making these assessments swiftly and accurately. 

Whether kept for pleasure, milking, or operational purposes like tourism, all camels benefit from training. Not only does it strengthen their bond and trust with humans, but it also enables safe and effective handling and management, particularly in situations such as parasite management and veterinary care. By establishing strong foundations from the outset, both camels and handlers can thrive in a less stressful environment, fostering mutual understanding and respect.

Let’s discover the five steps in basic camel training:

  1. Accepting a headstall:

Introducing a headstall to a camel can be a stressful experience for the animal, especially if it has never had anything on its face before. Proper preparation is key to minimising stress, which may involve using infrastructure to contain the camel or working in smaller areas to ensure the safety of both the handler and the camel. The goal of placing a headstall on is to assist with every subsequent training step, making it essential that this step is a positive one for the camel. 

Patience and ample time are crucial, regardless of whether it takes 30 minutes or 3 hours. The end result should be a calm, accepting camel that is learning about humans in a positive way, as first impressions matter.


  1. Respecting the Rope (Calmly be tied up):

During this stage, the camel learns to respect the pressure and release of the headstall as they are tied to a secure, sturdy, and safe post. 

As the camel familiarises itself with this new sensation on its head and begins to pull back, a process I call "testing the rope," they quickly learn that pulling back creates discomfort, while moving forward releases the pressure. 

Through this self-taught lesson in pressure and release, the camel begins to understand how to respond to cues from the headstall. This 

step lays the foundation for positive leading and walking, as the camel learns to respond to subtle pressure from the headstall rather than force. Since humans cannot match the strength of a camel pulling back at full force, proper infrastructure is crucial for successful camel training, ensuring the safety of both the handler and the animal while minimising stress and creating positive experiences.


  1. Learning to Sit (or “hoosh”) on command

For camels, sitting is a natural behaviour, and they often spend extended periods in this position. As handlers, we are simply requesting an action that aligns with their natural instincts and cognitive abilities. The goal is to establish a connection between the command and the action.

The traditional command to ask a camel to sit is "hoosh” or “Koosh.” This has been used for centuries and likely originates from a variety of sources from traditional camel handling practices in the Middle East, North Africa, and Australia’s original cameleers in the 19th century. 

It has evolved over time as a vocal cue and for cultural significance and keepsake. “hoosh” is commonly used by camel handlers around the world to instruct a camel to sit down.

Any command can be used to ask a camel to sit; the crucial aspect is establishing the association between the command and the action. There are numerous techniques for prompting a camel to sit, all of which involve using the command to encourage the desired behaviour. In my approach, I emphasise techniques that avoid heavy-handedness and minimise stress on the camel.

As a handler, it's essential to prioritise reducing the camel’s stress and leveraging the camel’s strengths. Ultimately, the camel's behaviour guides the training process, fostering a deeper understanding between handler and camel and cultivating a more harmonious and trustworthy relationship.


  1. Leading and Walking the camel

Walking a camel involves establishing superior leadership and fostering 

a sense of pleasure for both the camel and the handler. 

Given their herd animal nature, camels naturally follow the lead of another, whether it's a fellow camel or a human. 

To promote superior and trustworthy leadership, it's best for the handler to walk in front of the camel rather than beside it. This position not only enhances safety by reducing the risk of the camel inadvertently running into the handler if spooked, but also reinforces the handler's leadership authority.

Walking in front of the camel, by about 2 metres, allows the handler to maintain control and guide the camel's movements effectively. 

In the event of a spook, the camel is more likely to avoid the handler rather than deliberately run into them, making the experience safer for both parties. Additionally, walking in front encourages trust and familiarity between the camel and the handler, similar to the bond formed when walking a dog.

Beyond practicality in handling and management, the goal of walking a camel is to create a pleasurable experience for both the camel and the handler. This activity promotes trust and allows humans and camels to become more acquainted with each other, strengthening their relationship and enhancing their overall interaction.


  1. Accepting touch

Surprisingly, accepting touch is the final step in camel training, but there's a good reason for this sequencing. 

The carefully structured training process gradually builds trust and respect between the handler and the camel. Attempting to touch a camel in the early stages can cause significant stress for an unhandled camel, potentially leading to setbacks in the training process. Therefore, it's crucial to establish trust and rapport with the camel before introducing physical contact.

The initial steps of camel training involve hands-on interaction, but it's essential to incorporate what I like to call "camel time." This refers to giving the camel space as a reward for complying with requested actions. During this time, there's no feeding of treats or patting;

instead, the reward is the removal of pressure, allowing the camel a few moments of relief. As stress levels decrease, the camel gradually becomes desensitised to the handler's presence, paving the way for accepting touch.

For safety reasons, I advise individuals to approach touching the camel gradually and in small increments, particularly while the camel is sitting down. This approach helps to ensure the handler's safety and facilitates a positive experience for both the camel and the handler, ultimately strengthening their bond and trust.

Training camels is one of my greatest passions, as it fosters a remarkable connection between an unhandled camel and its handler. The initial basic training process I employ is relatively efficient, typically spanning 2-3 days, depending on the camel's personality and temperament. Even individuals with zero camel experience can successfully complete my camel training course within this timeframe, underscoring the effectiveness of a step-by-step approach that prioritises safety for both camel and handler.

While camels possess exceptional memory and intelligence, the key to successful training beyond the initial days lies in repetition. I refer to this as the "rise and repeat" process. As camels age and develop, their temperaments may also evolve, making repetition crucial for training success. By consistently reinforcing learned behaviours and commands, handlers can ensure that their camels retain and execute these actions reliably over time. This ongoing repetition not only reinforces training principles but also helps adapt training methods to accommodate any changes in the camel's behaviour or disposition.

This training journey is very fulfilling and can be transformative for both the handler and the camel involved. 

A well-trained camel opens up a world of possibilities, allowing handlers to achieve their goals and aspirations with their camels. 

If you're interested in delving deeper into camel training with me, please visit my website for more information





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