Mindset for Training a Donkey

In anything you want to accomplish you must get in the right mindset. I believe there is a mindset for training a donkey you must get in before you even start. Donkeys can feel your emotions much like horses. If you are frustrated or lack confidence, your donkey will know, and it can affect training.

Donkey learning is affected by the individual donkey, his life experiences and previous training. Donkey learning ability is also affected by the ability of the handler/trainer.

I certainly did not start out with the ability to train donkeys but these 3 things helped me on my journey as I was learning how to train them.

training donkeys

These 3 things help me just as much now as they did before I had so much experience.

Mindset For Training a Donkey:

  1. Patience: go slow and let your donkey think it through. If they are starting to shut down simply move to something less complicated, than break things down in smaller steps for your donkey to understand.
  2. Have Empathy: See the world/training session from your donkeys eyes. Ask yourself, is this scary to my donkey? Can I ask for what I want in a better way?
  3. Light attitude! Never heavy and watch your body language. Are you open and friendly towards your donkey? Or are you stiff and tense? Are you distracted? Donkeys are very good at reading humans.

I call this the mindset 3. Think about these 3 little things before beginning a session. I think about the individual donkey I’m about to work with, its fears and strengths too.

Anyone can learn the steps to train a donkey. For training to be a really positive experience you do need to think about your donkeys needs and your own mindset. 

Techniques, methods, and skills will come as you gain experience but those 3 things are key no matter what you are training your donkey for or how much experience you have.

Recently, I’ve been working more with Jasper’s saddle training. He is learning to trail ride off the farm. Even though I’ve been riding him on my farm for 4 months every week, I have to take it slow and not expect him to be ok with so many new things. Things that can be scary to him as a very green saddle donkey.

Here is a video of his second ride off the farm. I had to keep my mindset and remember those 3 things. Not go to fast or expect to much. But think about things from his point of view.

The Wrong Mindset

Donkeys want demand that you earn their trust before they cooperate willingly. This where people who buy a trained donkey often get frustrated. They buy this wonderful donkey with all these videos of the donkey doing amazing things. Yet, they don’t understand how the donkey thinks and how to communicate with him.

They get the donkey home and immediately demand the donkey do these things for them. Often the donkey says, ‘nah, I don’t know you like that’ and refuses. I’m talking about me here. I did this! Now, I know better.

Horse people sometimes have this problem when they get a donkey because a horse will often just do as told no matter who jumps on so long as that person knows the right cues. The mindset of ‘I paid for you, you’re mine, now do it’ often sets in.

This mindset won’t get you very far with a donkey. 

Donkey Handler Training

My husband calls donkeys ‘handler based animals’ like the Dobermans I used to train. Donkeys (and Dobermans!) need to know their handler can be trusted. I’m currently getting my mammoth J-Donk, ready to become the husband saddle donkey.

J-Donk isn’t sure about that. So I’m not only training J-Donk but I’m training my husband (a horse person!) to be patient and learn donkey communication too. He looked at me like I was crazy when I told him ‘you have to be J-Donks friend first’. But it’s true!

Seriously, how can he not know this? I’m thinking my husband hasn’t heard a word I’ve said when I talk about training donkeys. He probably shuts down when I start talking about donkeys after all these years…poor guy!🤣

Anyways…Being pushy, rude or bossy with a donkey will only make the donkey think you are someone to be avoided. The Mindset 3 is so much here! Do you like it when someone is pushy and rude to you? Doesn’t consider your feelings? I didn’t think so!

Think…Treat the donkey the way you would want to be treated!

***For more Donkey Training Information, Tips and help

I have many more articles on donkey training like this one: Donkey Training Information {My Top 5 Training Aids}

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