paul has a new video  

 



visit the thread.

see the DVDs.

  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

donkey temperament...how to work with?  RSS feed

 
Judith Browning
Posts: 6028
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
398
bike chicken fungi trees urban woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We are temporarily housing a two and a half year old miniature donkey.  He was somewhat malnourished and has no training to speak of.  We have a little browse for him, lots of hay and fresh water and we were walking him with a halter and a lead, almost every day for more exercise and some clover grazing but that gradually turned into a battle of wills and we had to stop.

Apparently he is feeling much better and testing his boundaries and at the moment neither of us can handle him....biting, raring up and a bucking thing...he's excited when he sees the halter but won't stand anymore for us to put it on him.   He is pacing and pushing against his fence when not eating because he wants to get out but he's not cooperating when we try....one of those catch 22 things.

I know he needs a buddy and I suppose he is treating us the way he would another donkey?  ..a top dog thing?

This isn't ideal but we are trying to do what's best for the animal for a few more weeks, without letting him damage us in the meantime. 

Any simple things we could be doing to calm him?  We have both been around horses although I don't think they are at all similar in temperament.

I really think the main thing is he needs another donkey to 'play' with but we just can't do that....

help?
 
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree
Posts: 10066
Location: Portugal
936
bee bike books duck forest garden greening the desert solar trees wofati
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
You say 'he'. 

Is he entire?  If so I think you'd have a lot less trouble if he was castrated.
 
Judith Browning
Posts: 6028
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
398
bike chicken fungi trees urban woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Burra Maluca wrote:You say 'he'. 

Is he entire?  If so I think you'd have a lot less trouble if he was castrated.


He is supposed to be castrated and when we were able to look he appeared to be.  He is not acting as though he'd been cut though.  He's actually reminding me of our old billy goat.  He isn't ours, just here for awhile...we both wonder if he might have been 'proud cut'? We only know what the owners know and that is limited I guess.

 
Bryant RedHawk
garden master
Posts: 3132
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
253
chicken dog forest garden hugelkultur hunting toxin-ectomy
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Donkeys are independent thinkers and will not behave like a horse, they have to decide they want to do something before they will do it for you.

Putting a Donkey in a small corral helps with initial training, they can't get away but it also means you can flee if need be.
They will bite, head butt, and they can kick to the side, unlike a horse.

Here is how I calmed the wild donkey that has adopted us as her keepers.
first off, approach from the side so the donkey can keep an eye on your movements, move slow and talk to the donkey, they really can understand quickly.
If the donkey appears to not want to have anything to do with you, turn around and walk away, this tells the donkey that you want nothing to do with him.
Stop and remain facing away from the donkey, his curiosity will eventually get the best of him and he will approach you, this is good.

Start by stroking the front shoulder down towards the leg, if you hum a tune you like, it will calm the donkey and you will see the lower lip quiver, this is actually the donkey humming with you and means they are accepting you.
Once the donkey lets you approach and stroke them you can move your strokes to the jaw and base of the ears (our donkey loves her ear bases rubbed so much she will lean into my hand).
A soft bristle brush is good for brushing a donkey, when they let you do this, they are showing they trust you to not hurt them, they will also want a lot of brushing, they love the attention.
I never spend less than 15 minutes when I am gentling our donkey, I give her some gentle pats before I walk away and I do that towards her rear.
She has learned that 1. I'm not going to harm her  2. I am going to stop if she indicates she doesn't want me to touch her, and I am going to walk away when that happens
3. she knows she will get a carrot if she comes to the gate as I approach, this means she understands and accepts me as her care giver, I am not a threat.
4. I always talk to her in soft tones, hum as I brush her and if I want her to come I whistle and wait (she now comes when I whistle for the dogs or use her whistle tones)

Donkeys are like goats in that they need a companion animal, they want to be part of the herd, you need to be the herd leader.

I can give you more tips if you want Judith, just let me know. I've done a lot of homework on donkeys over the past 6 months and seem to be pretty good at it finally.

They need their hooves trimmed (more upright than a horse hoof) and that  means you need them to let you lift their leg, something they really need a lot of trust to allow.
I have our jenny to the point of her letting me pick up her front hooves but not her back ones so far.
I have learned this is going to be something that takes a lot of time, mostly because I am not home all day during the week and so can't spend much time with her until the weekends.

Oh, donkeys will retain what they learn including that you might harm them.  No fast or sudden movements is a good rule when you are working with donkeys.

Redhawk
 
Judith Browning
Posts: 6028
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
398
bike chicken fungi trees urban woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thank you RedHawk...much good advice and a good place to begin or really I think we need to start over.  

We were (we thought) at the scratching and brushing stage and halter with lead...but then something changed and he began resisting the halter and the last time I went in the pen I was shutting the gate with my back to him and he reared up on my back and bit the back of my head.  He had been occasionally doing what, to me, looked like a leap of joy when he was on the lead...wanting to trot a little and enjoying the walk and a little clover grazing but generally easy to lead.  He never liked going back in his pen though and that became a struggle.   Anyway this bad behavior has accelerated from there until he is biting and pushing and rearing up whenever one of us goes in the pen and I'm afraid to turn my back on him.....

Our routine, now, is me cutting him bermuda and other grasses to give him while my guy goes in the pen to give him fresh hay and water....that keeps him busy.  We're cutting him extras several times a day rather than trying the halter and lead again.  We talk to him and he calls us and looks at us with his sad eyes 

He is gaining weight and definitely perkier than when first here...we just weren't expecting this aggressive behavior.




 
Bryant RedHawk
garden master
Posts: 3132
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
253
chicken dog forest garden hugelkultur hunting toxin-ectomy
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Be careful on how much you feed him and what you feed him.
Donkeys are browsers like goats and they don't do well with high protein foods (learned this the hard way).
I use corn chop for a treat, it is much lower in protein than oats or other grains. Hay, while good, can be overdone too. (they will eat straw and browse trees for tender leaves, beware the donkey near fruit trees)

When a Donkey gets over fed their neck roll (under the mane) will slump to one side and once that happens, it is permanently there.

If he is attacking when you are in the pen with him. Don't go in until he shows you he isn't going to try to hurt you. Do the turn your back and walk away.
Should he lean into you, that is a good sign, they do that to show affection and acceptance.

Most likely what has happened is that he is trying to be the dominant and you can put him in his place by showing him you are going to ignore him as long as he continues that behavior.

Instead of giving him feed so you can go into the corral, only give him food when he invites you in.
It won't take him long to get the message but it will tear at your heart because he will bray, wanting some attention.
That attention needs to come from his doing what you want him to do (not rear, kick, bite, charge, etc.).
At any point he doesn't do as you want, turn and walk away. Wait at least 30 minutes before giving it a try again. That re-enforces that you are the dominant one, not him.

This is the site that has taught me a lot of what is working with our donkey
Donkey training website


Redhawk
 
Judith Browning
Posts: 6028
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
398
bike chicken fungi trees urban woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thank you so much...training is starting now.  I've been out twice and opened just the top of the gate, he came over and tried to bite me, I closed the gate and walked away....waited thirty minutes and tried again...he still seemed aggressive and he called to me afterwards and I ignored.    This feels like the right thing to do.  I've never been able to over power an animal and never wanted to....I still have visions (from thirty years ago) of billy goat butting me against the cabin though

...checking out the web site now.

At the moment over weight isn't a problem...he was more than one hundred pounds under weight and is just now starting to gain.
 
Bryant RedHawk
garden master
Posts: 3132
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
253
chicken dog forest garden hugelkultur hunting toxin-ectomy
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
hau Judith, how is the donkey training going? just wanted to check up on the progress.

Redhawk
 
Judith Browning
Posts: 6028
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
398
bike chicken fungi trees urban woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Bryant RedHawk wrote:hau Judith, how is the donkey training going? just wanted to check up on the progress.

Redhawk


I've been meaning to do an update.  He has been very contrite lately and wanting our attention.  I still am not getting in the pen with him but meeting him at the gate for him to come to me for a brushing and a scratch.  His weight gain is just about right.  Steve also thinks he realizes he messed up and his behavior is better....this is after some days of much less attention on our part, just normal feed and fresh water.

It turns out he is castrated...a big relief there.

A relative has begun some serious work with him here and that is going well.  She has worked with horses and various animals and has  a good sense of what they are about.  He responds well to her.   She had him out on a halter again (after we hadn't for a month or so) and we could all tell he was on his best behavior. 

He is so lonely though...I would never raise an animal alone like this if it hadn't been an emergency at the time.  He goes to a big pasture in a week or two and there is a horse there for some companionship and the owner who will work with him daily. 

I think we'll miss him...I like to talk to him in the morning over coffee and sometimes he whinnies and trots over to the fence when I first turn the lights on early am.....his pen is close enough he can see in the kitchen window

oh, and the neighborhood boys try to get him to 'honk'...they all like it that he 'barks' with the dogs in the area.

thanks for all of the advice and links  Bryant!
 
Thyri Gullinvargr
gardener
Posts: 398
Location: Wisconsin, USA Zone 4b-5a
86
books cat dog toxin-ectomy urban
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Judith Browning wrote: I still am not getting in the pen with him but meeting him at the gate for him to come to me for a brushing and a scratch.

I know of both horse trainers and zoo trainers that do this, especially for unknown or dangerous animals. It's called protected contact and it's possible to train quite a bit without getting into the pen. Zoo trainers even train animals to lean against the cage for blood draws and shots.
 
Judith Browning
Posts: 6028
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
398
bike chicken fungi trees urban woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thyri Gullinvargr wrote:
Judith Browning wrote: I still am not getting in the pen with him but meeting him at the gate for him to come to me for a brushing and a scratch.

I know of both horse trainers and zoo trainers that do this, especially for unknown or dangerous animals. It's called protected contact and it's possible to train quite a bit without getting into the pen. Zoo trainers even train animals to lean against the cage for blood draws and shots.


That is so good to know...he really seems to like it and will move under the brush for us to cover most of him...reversing for the other side.  I know he is smart and seems so willing for the right person to train. 
 
Bryant RedHawk
garden master
Posts: 3132
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
253
chicken dog forest garden hugelkultur hunting toxin-ectomy
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
yes, they are social animals and do need some form of companionship. currently donkey donk has two of our dogs, which is pretty wild since everything I have read on donkeys states they don't like canines of any sort.

I'm glad things are working out well Judith, you and Steve be well and happy.

Redhawk
 
Thyri Gullinvargr
gardener
Posts: 398
Location: Wisconsin, USA Zone 4b-5a
86
books cat dog toxin-ectomy urban
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
FYI: Alexandra Kurland, who was one of the first people to write a clicker training book and it was for clicker training horses, has a blog post here where she talks a bit about protective contract: https://theclickercenterblog.com/2015/11/20/2015-clinic-season-an-introduction-to-clicker-training-day-1/. One thing to consider, is that it protects you both. A horse, donkey or whatever is free to move around and get away from you if they feel the need, and obviously you're aware that the reverse is true. That means both of you get to feel safe.
 
Judith Browning
Posts: 6028
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
398
bike chicken fungi trees urban woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thyri Gullinvargr wrote:FYI: Alexandra Kurland, who was one of the first people to write a clicker training book and it was for clicker training horses, has a blog post here where she talks a bit about protective contract: https://theclickercenterblog.com/2015/11/20/2015-clinic-season-an-introduction-to-clicker-training-day-1/. One thing to consider, is that it protects you both. A horse, donkey or whatever is free to move around and get away from you if they feel the need, and obviously you're aware that the reverse is true. That means both of you get to feel safe.


thank you so much...have that lined up to read this afternoon in the heat of the day
 
Thyri Gullinvargr
gardener
Posts: 398
Location: Wisconsin, USA Zone 4b-5a
86
books cat dog toxin-ectomy urban
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Judith Browning wrote:thank you so much...have that lined up to read this afternoon in the heat of the day

WARNING: If you're interested in training it's easy to get lost in her blog for hours.

I'm a fan of clicker training and have a clicker trained cat. Video proof here: 
  I threw a few videos up several years ago since no one believed me. That's the cutest one.
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!