In donkey training, life will be so much easier if you work on building trust first. It’s the part of my Level 1 Foundation Training (book available in membership group) and it’s probably the most important part of training a donkey.
I’m about to show you an example of how important that work in building trust can go.
Some of you may have seen my super happy posts about this example on social media but here is a bigger breakdown of what’s going on here and how it was achieved.
The picture you see above is my saddle donkey Jasper. I bought Jasper from his original breeder. He had never been in a trailer and loading him into a trailer to bring him home was not easy. Sadly, it was pretty traumatic for him, as it is for most donkeys who haven’t been trained.
The trailer is a dark scary unknown place to an untrained donkey. Most resist going in and some will even go into fight response to avoid it.
I had worked a lot with Jasper on everything but loading up to this point. If you’ve watched my video of him on youtube you can see how far he has come.
Donkey Training: Training a Donkey to Load
My basic training plan to start with Jasper was:
- Building Trust
- Give him a foundation of +R training (like treat manners and targeting)
- Liberty training
- And then focus on his building his skills as a trail donkey.
All this has gone well. But now it’s time to learn to load so we can start exploring trails off the farm. One reason I wanted a saddle donkey is that their surefootedness is superior and we have some pretty rough trails in Tennessee. I’m looking forward to getting out on them when he is ready. But first loading…
So this is exactly what happened on the first day I started Jasper’s loading training.
((Spoiler: He loaded right up.))
- We approached the trailer, and I let him check it out. I clicked and rewarded him for his curiosity.
- I stepped in the trailer, he cautiously moves closer, I clicked and rewarded.
- Then stepped back farther into the trailer; he stepped into the trailer, click/reward!
- I back up and he followed me all the way in!
Just like that. He trusted me; he enjoys his +R training, and it was the easiest loading training ever!
I clicked/reward along the way and we did none of that miserable old technique of make their life is awful outside the trailer until they go in the trailer. This was easier for him and easier for me! One of my favorite sayings… what’s wrong with easy?
I will need to work repeat this daily for a while to make sure it is a consistent behavior but I believe Jasper is well on his way to being able to load up and go to the mountain trails.
Ready for your Donkey Training Journey
So Please Remember this:
No time spent building trust with a donkey is wasted time! No matter if it’s grooming, taking walks, working on +R fun stuff or just hanging out in your barnyard watching your donkeys be social.
You are building a relationship, a trusting partnership, and it’s all very much worth it. You and your donkeys will reap the benefits!
I have a donkey training membership group you can join for less than the cost of a cup of coffee! I post full-length training videos, PDF guides, booklets and training plans for the base membership. You can add ebooks or a consultation too. Customize for your needs. It’s important to me that all donkeys get training so they and their humans can live their best life together! Click the picture to find out more!
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