Help Training a Donkey
Ok so silly me, listened to my husband (non horse person) and got my mare a mini donkey as a companion. So the folks bring the donkey to my house he is a complete donkey if you know what I mean and I plan on getting that taken care of asap. But my question is, donkeys think different then horses, and this guy showed us last night, he has no problems kicking, and doesn't like his back feet handled. My son was leading him around and no kidding this donkey actually bent himself in half so that he could kick my son. (Son is an adult, and moved fast enough that he missed) My son did all the right things by pulling his head toward himself thus moving donkeys butt away, but again, the donkey bent in half and even though my son had the donkeys nose at his knee donkey still took a swing with the back leg and barley missed. I have trained horses for years and know what I am doing there, but have heard donkeys learn differently cause they are so dern smart and are not flight animals like the horses are. Are there major differences in training them? At this point I am not looking to train him to ride or drive or anything, his mane (:wink:) job is just to be a friend for my horse, but I also don't want a dangerous animal on my farm. (ask my poor dog who got kicked right in the chest! Good thing in was a softer warning kick)
donkeys, zebras, horses and mules are all the same thing, in different proportions. the methods you use to gain his trust and respect will be the same, but he probably won't let you get away with as much as you would with a typical horse, so he should be a good test for you. get him moving his hindquarters away from you and backing up away from you, that should help kicking.
You do not need to over-think this. I have owned several breeding jacks (standard and mammoth) and raised mules for many years.
They learn from punishment (negative reinforcement) just like horses only they learn quickly from it -- usually more quickly the most horses.
The one thing you have to really think about before you punish one is if you have enough control on the lead-rope so that the donkey does not pull away from you. They are probably 3 to 4 time stronger in the neck than any horse. If they are not tied or you do not have a chain on one, IT WILL pull away. Then, you have taught it a bad habit instead of correcting one.
This Donk needs to be punished -- plain and simple -- when he kicks. He will quit and will not do it again if you punish him severely enough the first time, there will not be a second time.
If he were mine, I would 'set him up'. I would tie him with a regular lead on a nylon web halter. I would also have a second lead on him that I handled. I would use a chain -- probably under his chin. [I would let him tell me how tough he thought he was.] If he thinks he is tough (bared his teeth or lays his ears back), I would probably just go right to the chain under his upper lip.
Then, I would take a cattle sorting stick (5 foot long fiberglass pole that stockmen use to sort cattle) and touch him on the back or hip. When he kicks at it (and he will) I would just go to work on him with the chain giving him several really hard jerks. I would leave for a few minutes and go back and do it again. You have a 50/50 chance that there won't be a second kick. If there is, jerk harder and more times.
When he is ok with being touched while tied, I would go to the same thing while leading him. Do not do this without leading him with the chain. He WILL jerk away if you do.
He should learn manners just like any horse. Aggressive behavior needs to be met with punishment, plain and simple. It is not rocket science. These animals can and will hurt people and can kill people. You do not ever want a donkey to bite you. They do not miss like they do not miss when they kick. A donkey that bites is as different from a horse as a bulldog is from a collie. Their mouth opens wider and closes with much more force. So, keep in mind that if you do not punish him severely enough to make him mind, you will just make him mad and he will bite -- hard.
Every Jack I have ever owned was just like a big puppy dog. They did not all start out that way. But trust me; they discipline just like a horse. When they are nice, they are nicer than a horse and much more affectionate. After you make him mind, he will get very friendly and very affectionate.
i think cherie has some good ideas, but im not a fan of chains. Instead of jerking on the head chain, if you use a stock stick to touch his hind legs and he kicks out, keep the the stick there until he stops kick then immediatly, thus rewardinf the correct behaviour, which is the not kicking, he learns because the stick is removed when his bad behavio stops. If he actually swung his butt at you i would hit him on the butt as he does itand keep hittin until he moved his hindquarters away. so that he associates moving his but towards you as bad- and away from you as good.
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