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Dragon Training encompasses interacting with and teaching dragons to do specific tasks for human purposes, ranging from fighting to companionship. It is seen throughout the How to Train Your Dragon Franchise, beginning with the first movie, How to Train Your Dragon.

History

Dragon Training was made well-known around the Barbaric Archipelago when Hiccup Haddock trained the Night Fury, Toothless. Taking knowledge learned about dragon behavior gleaned from hundreds of years of fighting and killing them, as well as his own observations, Hiccup established the Berk Dragon Training Academy for his village, as seen in "How to Start a Dragon Academy".

However, the training of dragons in one form or another has occurred prior to this event for ages. The Wingmaidens of Wingmaiden Island have been shepherding Razorwhips for centuries, forming a relationship with female and juvenile dragons. Most notable is their use of hatchlings as a mode of aerial transport, first seen in "Snotlout's Angels". Additionally, "Defenders of the Wing, Part 2" reveals the Defenders of the Wing also formed mutually beneficial relationships and utilized the abilities of the Eruptodon, as well as Speed Stingers. The Uruz Tribe have also been training Thunderclaws for centuries, using them to pull their sleds. In addition, the Shadow Wing Snogglewing was accidentally trained by Vikings offering it food in order to avoid its wrath for generations.

Negative dragon training is also in evidence prior to Hiccup and Toothless' Relationship, based on forced servitude. Drago Bludvist maintained an army of dragons and trained them in warfare, in addition to manual labor and transportation. The Dragon Hunter Tribe has also used dragons not only as a commodity, but trained them to fight, Terror Mail, and labor, evidenced throughout the entire Dragons: Race to the Edge series.

Dragons: Defenders of Berk and the episode "Triple Cross" also state that the Berserker Tribe was able to capture and tame Skrills and use them as a tribal symbol and as beasts of war.

As mentioned in Dragons: Rise of Berk, some dragons simply prefer to live among Vikings even without being trained, such as the Windstriker Galesplitter.

Purpose

Dragon training first and foremost is to prevent injury to the human and property when dealing with a dragon, which can be obtained through different methods. After this has been established, more advanced training can occur for the purposes of labor, war, transport, protection, companionship, courier services, demolition and construction, entertainment, and even as food and products.

Techniques

Negative Training Techniques

For purposes here, negative dragon training technique are those using intimidation and subjugation, physical punishment, force, captivity, chemical restraint, or otherwise little consideration for the mental and physical well being of the dragon.

Intimidation and Force: All dragon species follow some level of hierarchy, even from other species. When properly executed without fear, even humans are able to intimidate a beast much larger and deadly than themselves. This approach is used by Drago Bludvist against dragons many times his size, even a Bewilderbeast. The key is to be able to render a dragon's attacks moot and move and vocalize in an aggressive manner as another dragon would. In Drago's case, his fire-proof dragon skin aided with this approach. This was demonstrated with Hookfang when the dragon blasted him with fire, but Drago remained unscathed, advanced menacingly, in essence 'roared' angrily, and shoved Hookfang's snout down to force submission. Drago also tamed a Bewilderbeast by intimidation and subjugation of a juvenile during its formative years, so that it was conditioned to respond to him even when the beast could have easily defeated Drago. By harnessing the Bewilderbeast's power as an alpha and silent inexorable call to other dragons, he is able to control large groups of dragons to do his bidding.

"Breaking" dragons to riding, much like some horse training techniques is confining and chaining a dragon against its will, and then forcing a rider onto its back until it is 'broken' and gives in and gets used to a rider on its back. The Dragon Flyers used this tactic to train Singetails.

Physical Restraint: Most - but not all - dragons trained in a negative fashion against their free will are typically physically restrained in some manner. This includes caging when not performing a task, chains, manacles, box-type muzzles, and even bits and bridles. After breaking Singetails to their wills, the Dragon Flyers employed dragon-proof metal bridles with bits while riding them and crops for directions. Afterwards they were stabled and confined, much like horses. Cages and chains are also often the 'dragon-proof' variety.

Muzzles, fashioned to fit the various dragon species, were often some other iron alloy and leather rather than dragon-proof metal. This is most likely due to the species' particular fire-type or the fact that the muzzled dragon isn't able to open its mouth enough to produce flame to melt or burn the muzzle. Viggo Grimborn was seen both caging a Flightmare in a dragon-proof metal cage, as well as placing a leather muzzle with an aperture at the front to control the amount of paralyzing mist it could breathe out.

Chemical Restraint: Various substances can be used to drug dragons into submission, or otherwise perform how a human wants them to. Dragon Root, alone or in combination with other ingredients, have been used to sedate dragons, weaken them, but also enrage them tactically. The Dragon Hunters frequently use arrows tipped with dragon root reduction to bring down dragons. Eir Stormheart in Dreamworks Dragons: Dawn of New Riders uses a cocktail of dragonvine, Dragon root, and other ingredients to in essence 'mind control' dragons to her bidding. This is incrementally delivered to the dragon over time by attaching a container of it directly to the dragon. The Dragonroot Company in Dragons: Titan Uprising also use a cocktail including dragon root and Buffalord saliva to strategically anger dragons beyond reason to wreak havoc in specific locations. Although dragon root-tipped arrows have no effects on Bewilderbeasts, this proprietary blend from the Dragonroot Company does.

The Dragon poacher Grimmel the Grisly utilizes the paralyzing venom of the Deathgripper in specific quantities to also 'mind control' dragons and make them docile and open to his orders. He creates harnesses that directly inject the venom into the head or neck of the dragons, even Deathgrippers themselves.

Positive Training Techniques

For purposes here, positive dragon training techniques involve those which work with a dragon's natural inclinations, positive reinforcement, human-dragon bonding, allowing free will and choices, or other methods that take into account the well being of the dragon and the needs of both parties.

Establishing a Connection: Hand to muzzle

Positive Resources: Feeding food
Scratching an itch, grooming

Mood Enhancers: Dragon Nip
Sagefruit

Modification of Natural Behaviors: Modifying hunting/fishing behavior to fish/herd/hunt for humans
Redirecting defecation
Dropping objects with scratching
Modifying protective instincts to cover humans and animals

Strategies used for Specific Species

Strategies used in Training a Dragon (or defending yourself without harming it) and Dragon Quirks/Weaknesses

  • Render yourself defenseless in order to earn their trust (best way to train Night Furies).
  • Give powerful dragons (such as Monstrous Nightmares and Thunderdrums) the respect that is their due. Place a gentle hand on their snout.
  • All dragons will collapse when scratched in a point by the neck (mainly the chin). Though Gronckles don't like being scratched on the chin.
  • All dragons (with the exception of Whispering Deaths) love the scent of dragon nip.
  • Terrible Terrors can get distracted by a concentrated point of light (so too, can Night Furies).
  • All dragons (except the Typhoomerang) have an aversion to eel.
  • When attempting to train a Gronckle, be aware that there are two ways of befriending them. The first way is since Gronckles love to eat sandstone, feeding it sandstone, or some other kind of rock, they will accept you. The second way is to give them lots and lots of love and affection which due to their sweet nature, they love.
  • Whispering Deaths love having their teeth brushed.
  • Approach a Deadly Nadder from behind, make sure that it can see you. If you prove you're not a threat, it will let you smooth its tail spikes down.
  • A Timberjack will be your faithful companion if you scratch an itch on its back (which due to it's enormous wings, it cannot reach on its own).
  • Scauldrons are sentimental dragons. Dump a bucket of water on yourself, and they will playfull lick it off, as it reminds them of home. Or you could either put fish oil in your hair or on your clothes. Or you could roll in a pile of fresh fish.
  • When feeding a multi-headed dragon, such as a Hideous Zippleback or Snaptrapper, feed all the heads at once.
  • Snaptrappers love rain, because they enjoy playing in the resulting mud.
  • Give a Boneknapper the bone it's looking for, and it will become very affectionate towards you.
  • Changewings display mimicking behavior; whatever they see, they love to imitate. Night Furies may also mimic you.
  • Fireworms are (quite ironically) afraid of fire.
  • Monstrous Nightmares like having their head or more accurately, their horns, pinned on the ground.
  • Terrible Terrors can be befriended by giving them a fish to eat.
  • Screaming Death are attracted to sun light when young.
  • Deadly Nadders love to eat chicken, so it is a good idea to bring some chicken with you when you are trying to train it.
  • You know you have formed a bond, when the dragon touches its snout to your hand.

School of Dragons

The first tip of successful dragon training is knowing that the way to a dragon’s heart is through its stomach. Most dragons hate eels, so don’t serve your scaly friend this for dinner!
  School of Dragons Website[1]  
Completing activities and tasks together is another way to make sure your dragon is in good shape!
  School of Dragons Website[2]  
Expert trainers also recognize that the best way to train their dragons is to adopt a “work hard, play hard” attitude. After a long day of training, remember to have some fun with your scaly friend by playing a friendly game of catch, using the mirror to make them chase after a dot of sunlight, or fry some eels. This time dedicated to fun and relaxation will ensure that your dragon doesn’t burn out too quickly.
  School of Dragons Website[3]  


Videos

References

  1. Dragons-DW-logo Guide : How to Train Your Dragon in School of Dragons.
  2. Dragons-DW-logo Guide : How to Train Your Dragon in School of Dragons.
  3. Dragons-DW-logo Guide : How to Train Your Dragon in School of Dragons.

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