Last Updated on March 15, 2022 by Allison Price
Donkeys can be very affectionate once you trust them. This is why I thought I’d write about my experience with donkey behavior and a bit about my own.
It is difficult for me to bond with horses, but it is easy for me to bond with donkeys. My farrier, who is an avid horse lover, agreed with me. This probably means that jackasses naturally gravitate to me. Hahaha! (It’s okay to crack a joke about a jackass every once in a while!)
The donkey is a very affectionate animal and will seek comforts from anyone who offers them. He doesn’t care if the comforts come from another donkey or a human. Our horses prefer to be with other horses than me or with other people.
Let’s first look at the factors that affect donkey behavior.
People tell me that their donkey doesn’t seem as affectionate as they want. I encourage them to look at their past and reflect on their surroundings. Many factors can influence donkey behavior.
If your donkey is not responding to you, and you are trying to establish a friendly relationship with him, consider these possible solutions. Donkeys are thought-leaders. They don’t just react; they have a reason why they do what they do.
The environment can influence the behavior of donkeys. The environment can influence the behavior of donkeys if they feel stressed by being crowded or bullied by other animals.
Behavior can also be affected by the introduction of a new donkey, as everyone must figure out their place in the hierarchy. Simple changes to a routine can have an impact on behavior. Slower changes are better!
If you have behavioral problems, here are some things to remember. Are there any changes in the barnyard?
When I have to make changes, I use calming essential oil. They are amazing! You can find out more about it here Donkey care [Calming Stressed Donkeys]
2. Hidden Pain
Are you a donkey experiencing pain? Donkeys are excellent at hiding pain. If your donkey is in pain, it will make it difficult for them to behave well and be affectionate towards you.
You should be looking out for signs such as withdrawal, weight loss, and decreased appetite. You might also notice signs of aggression such as the dog kicking you when you approach.
It’s a good idea for you to take your donkey to the vet if there are any behavioral changes. These issues are hard to diagnose. There are many possible causes.
Your vet should be able to observe your donkey’s behavior.
Many donkeys work hard all over the globe. Donkeys are often overworked and underfed, yet they still work in pain. Here’s an article on working donkeys in pain. Study shows Working Donkeys in Pain
This is something to consider. They hide pain very well so if they start acting out for no apparent reason, then it might be something more serious.
3. Past Traumas or Positive Experiences
Just like our behavior, a donkey’s behavior is shaped by good experiences. Bad experiences can also be a part of a donkey’s life. This is especially true if your donkey was rescued or hasn’t received loving care.
It can take months for your doggy to adjust in a new environment. Give them some time to build trust and give them plenty of it. This has happened to me in several rescues of kill pen donkeys. They get better and they are affectionate when they do.
4. Human Handler Response
The ability and experience of the handler can influence a donkey’s behavior. Spend time learning and practicing donkey handling skills. Your donkey will sense if you’re not feeling confident.
Empathy is key to understanding the world and seeing it through the eyes of your terrified donkeys. With love and understanding, approach. Do not approach them with forceful or rapid movements like a predator. They are prey animals.
Don’t rush your donkey! Be patient. Donkeys love slow! Donkeys love slow!
Being in the right mindset will help you to be a better handler. There is no need to worry or fear. Empathy, patience, love are all qualities that you should have.
Donkey behavior is influenced by previous training. A donkey who doesn’t understand your question will not respond in the expected manner
A trained donkey might take some time to get to know you and then he will do what you ask.
Use +R to train your donkey. This is a great way to earn his trust. Although there are many ways to train your donkey, I find that +R is the most effective. It all begins with +R! This post Donkey Training Tips & Information explains more about +R.
Check out my Donkey Training membership group! Every month, new videos and pdfs are added to my Donkey Training Membership group. You can train your donkeys for as little as a cup coffee
Donkeys can read our body language very well. However, it can be difficult for us to read the body language of donkeys. They can be stoic and will freeze when confronted with situations that they don’t like or understand. They can also freeze when they’re bored. Recently, I went on a hike with a donkey. It’s just hiking. Although I have a lot of experience with hiking, I had never started it with him.
After 3 weeks of hiking, approximately 4 days per week, he was already mimicking my movements, without being pressured or being completely at liberty to do so. If I took steps back, so did he. If I moved to the side, so did him. This liberty game I teach is the mimic game. I use slight pressure and +R. He was still learning to read my body language. He wanted to be able to communicate with me alone.
It’s not as evident as horses, and the body language of donkeys isn’t always the same. A horse that pins its ears is usually mad and trying to force another horse away.
Donkeys can do the same thing, or pinning could mean that they want to play. When we increase the pace on a hike, my gelding pins his ears. He is happy and his steps are a joy. He’s just mimicking me.