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New donkey, any advice?

Discussion in 'Behaviors & Handling Techniques - Horses, Mules, a' started by Irisshiller, Mar 26, 2017.

  1. Mar 26, 2017
    Irisshiller

    Irisshiller Chillin' with the herd

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    Hi everyone, I'm a new member after some donkey advice :)

    I recently took in a stray donkey. We haven't been able to find out where she came from, but we suspect she was a Bedouin donkey (we are in Israel) because of the white scar lines on her legs (they tie the legs together to stop their animals running off). Other than that, as far as I can see she looks very good, not too thin or too fat and hooves are fine too. She is friendly but untrained, I think she is very young.

    I run a small pet zoo, until now we only had small animals (rabbits, poultry). Now Layla is with us that has changed a bit! Some of my muscovy ducks flew off the day she arrived and never came back - they must have been seriously spooked! :( She is not aggresive to any if the animals and is even not bothered by dogs following her and barking at her. She really is a sweetie, she follows us around and calls out to us, it's more like having a dog than a horse!

    So that's the thing - I have experience handling horses but not donkeys. I have been trying to start training her and have had some success but other things are not going well at all. Here are the problems:

    1. She lets me halter her, brush her and pick up her front feet - but not the back. Every time I try, she kicks out (backwards, not at me). I can brush down her legs fine, but as soon as I run my hand down her leg, she kicks. She also does not like me touching her belly. I am wondering how I should handle this? I am being careful because I think something might cause her pain. She also probably has bad memories of people handling her legs.

    2. Someone who keeps horses around here told me that he thinks she is pregnant. I have no idea how to determine this. She does not look big but there has been a definite increase in the size of her belly since we got her. I don't know if this is due to her eating a lot though. She is extremely food focused! We feed her straw, grass and sometimes a treat of a carrot or a bit of rabbit food (she does just about anything for rabbit food :) ) wormed her just after we got her about a month ago. The vet is due to visit in a few weeks' time, I hope he will be able to tell me if she is pregnant or not and how old she is.

    3. The biggest issue we have with her is her trying to pull away and run off when we take her out. This behaviour has got worse lately. We used to take her for walks but now less and less, because she has started bolting, dragging me along until I'm forced to let go. She doesn't disappear, just runs around for a bit and then calms down, we can grab her lead rope and bring her back home. But it's very inconvenient, to say the least.

    I am aware that she might be a bit bored and lonely. I've been thinking about getting her a companion, but have put this on hold because of the news that she might be pregnant. I'd like to take her out more, but the running off problem stops me. I'd really like to do somethong anout it but don't really know what!

    I'm hoping you might have some advice for me as for how to train and handle her, what companion animal to get her (do they get on with sheep or goats, or is another donkey the best?) and how to tell if she is pregnant or not!

    Thanks very much!! Here are some photos of our Layla, who we love very much despite her bolting trick:

    20170326_105136.jpg 20170326_105147.jpg FB_IMG_1490448941289.jpg 20170326_105115.jpg
     
    Baymule likes this.
  2. Mar 27, 2017
    Latestarter

    Latestarter Novice; "Practicing" Animal Husbandry Golden Herd Member

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    First, greetings and welcome to BYH. Congrats on your new donkey. Not everyone just happens to acquire one free of charge :D =D Sorry it caused the loss of your ducks... That is kind of strange... I don't know much about donkeys but there are a few general things I believe are correct. First, they are super smart and have a memory better than the proverbial elephant. Second, they are normally very cautious about anything new. It's not that they're scared, they're actually pretty brave, but they think things through and want to be completely sure before they do something they've never done or experienced. It can take a while to earn their trust. Here is a site that I've seen recommended: http://www.lovelongears.com/

    I'll tag a few folks who may be able to help. @Mini Horses @Baymule @Bunnylady And there may be others I can't recall. There are other past members who haven't checked in recently as well. Anyway, good luck with her and hope you'll stick around. Maybe you'll become our new donkey "go-to" person! ;) Thanks for sharing the pics!
     
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  3. Mar 27, 2017
    Irisshiller

    Irisshiller Chillin' with the herd

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    Thanks very much!! It might take a few years before I have enough donkey experience to be advising others, LOL!
    Yes it is strange that the ducks flew away, maybe it was a coincidence..? At first we thought they were brooding somewhere but we haven't been able to find them and they never came back. Probably the jackals got them :(

    Yes we were also kind of amazed, just finding a donkey!! I wish I knew her background though. We were not planning to have a donkey, but now we can't imagine life without her anymore! :)

    Nice to meet you too, I hope people will have advice for me!
     
  4. Mar 27, 2017
    Alibo

    Alibo Loving the herd life

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    Beautiful girl! I would guess she is older than 2 because she does not seem to have any "baby coat" left. In my experience they fully shed their baby coat after two around here but it may be different in your climate. We got our Jenny to pick up her back legs with food. One person holds the bucket while another plays with back feet. Everytime she would kick/jerk away we would turn around for a a few seconds and then walk away and not look back. She will get the idea soon enough I hope! Good luck and congrats! :frow
     
  5. Mar 27, 2017
    Irisshiller

    Irisshiller Chillin' with the herd

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    Thanks Alibo, that's very useful to know!! We thought she might be too young to be pregnant or to have heat cycles, but so it looks like that is probably not the case. We haven't noticed her going into heat, is it a seasonal thing?

    Good advice about lifting the feet, I will try that! She seems to have no clue about anything. I tried once to ride her and she went mental, so I suppose either she hasn't been ridden before or her back hurts..! Anyway I'm being very careful now. We have made great progress with other things, she used to be scared of tractors, that is now completely gone. Also she was scared of kids playing with sticks but not any more now! I took this picture today, I was so proud of her:

    20170327_155541.jpg

    This is a temporary separation, just because some of the children are afraid of her, usually she runs free. She is very curious and comes right up to them. She also knows how to open doors, so we have had to barricade stuff! :)
     
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  6. Mar 27, 2017
    Latestarter

    Latestarter Novice; "Practicing" Animal Husbandry Golden Herd Member

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    Oh... I may have mentioned that they are extremely smart... as such, they will try their best to manipulate YOU into doing THEIR bidding if they can. You will need to establish that you aren't willing to give up your lead position... ;)
     
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  7. Mar 27, 2017
    Alibo

    Alibo Loving the herd life

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    Aww she makes me want to another!

    I have only seen my Jenny have one heat right after she turned two. It was very quiet though, I little bit of flehmen and some winking of the vulva not the squirt everywhere, prancing I have seen mares do. It could just be because it was her first though...
     
  8. Mar 27, 2017
    Baymule

    Baymule Herd Master

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    Your donkey is a lovely girl and looks very healthy!

    3. The biggest issue we have with her is her trying to pull away and run off when we take her out. This behaviour has got worse lately. We used to take her for walks but now less and less, because she has started bolting, dragging me along until I'm forced to let go. She doesn't disappear, just runs around for a bit and then calms down, we can grab her lead rope and bring her back home. But it's very inconvenient, to say the least.

    She has learned how to put one over on you. Hold her up close and don't give her any slack. If you can't hold her back, get someone to walk with you and act as a boat anchor. LOL

    On her belly and back feet, patience and lots of time will win the day. When she allows you to pick up the front feet, give her a reward. You could tie her up, letting her see the bucket of her feed. Pick up her front feet, give a small bit of feed. Slowly brush her sides, when she gets restless, stop, give a tiny bit of feed. Start again, brush farther down her belly than before. If she allows it, give her a reward. If she has a fit, take the feed and leave for a few minutes, then go back and brush her belly again. Try each time to brush farther down her belly. Always end on a positive so her last memory is a good one. If you stop when she has a kicking fit because you touched her belly, she just won and she will remember it. If you brush her sides and belly and she is calm, stop and end it on a positive. Over time, you will gain more of her trust and she will learn that when you brush her belly, she gets rewards!
     
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  9. Mar 28, 2017
    Irisshiller

    Irisshiller Chillin' with the herd

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    Hello, thank you all for your replies! So I was outsmarted by a donkey, darn it! LOL! So for the running away, it just comes down to who is the strongest? I will definitely enlist someone to help me then. Last time I was stuck with her refusing to go back, pulling away from me again and again, until my friend arrived with rabbit food! Then she followed my friend like a lap dog, I was so annoyed! My husband might have to help me here then. What do you do when she goes on strike, refusing to move?

    I have to add that she does none of these tricks when I lead her around inside the fenced area, she is like a lamb then. It's only when she senses freedom! ;)

    Thanks also for the advice about touching belly and back legs, I will do it the way you said! I use food rewards but have found a good way to "non-reward" yet - taking food and walking away from her sounds like a good idea, she will definitely care about that.

    Sounds like I have to insist on good behaviour a bit more! :)

    Oh, I was also wondering about a good companion animal for her? I'm not sure if we have the funds for another donkey or a pony, so maybe a goat or sheep would be an option? She reacts positively to all animals and seems to really like seeing dogs and cats, interestingly.

    FB_IMG_1490448935607.jpg
    I was worried but no, the rabbit didn't get stepped on :)

    She loves running around and playing, so a bigger animal to play with would be good! She does seem to understand we can't do donkey play! :) She has even jumped over logs, I never knew donkeys could be so playful and lively! What lovely animals!
     
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  10. Mar 28, 2017
    Baymule

    Baymule Herd Master

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    You might have to run a chain over her nose for the run away episodes. get a strong snap for both ends of the chain, just a 2 foot long small link chain. Clip one snap to the halter ring, run the chain over her nose and back through the halter ring, snap the lead rope on and you now have something she will listen to! When she starts to run away, at the first sign of bad behavior, jerk the lead rope and that chain will pop her nose. It is not cruel to correct bad behavior. What is cruel would be to use it to torture her. A few pops on the nose does not constitute abuse. If she is not listening to you, you have to get her attention. She has already buffaloed you and gotten away with running off when you lead her outside, so now you have to overcome this and get her back to obeying you. It would probably be a good idea to have help in the form of a stronger person to have the end of the rope so she doesn't get away again.

    You might find a chain lead rope already made up at a supply store, they use chain lead ropes with stallions.
     
    frustratedearthmother likes this.