Body language is so important to recognize and understand when working with animals.
Some of it is obvious of course ... the snarling dog with fangs bared coming at you is probably
not going to sit and lick your hand when it reaches you! But what about the not-so-obvious.
For example I have noticed that when I am working with the donkeys, they often have their ears
back ... not flat back, as in "I'm mad as hell" but back none-the-less. At first I thought "this donkey is not happy, not having a good time!"
But on observation, I think perhaps the donkey is just concentrating. Anyway I don't know. But ears, being one of a donkey's best features, I thought "I'm going to work with those and see what I can get them to do!" Also Alex informed me that by changing the position of an equine's ears from backwards to forwards, you can actually chnage the animal's attitude from grumpy to ... well, happy!
So I starting working with Ringo (why do I always start with the hardest?) and with him in his stall, a clicker in my right hand and my treat pouch slung over my left hip, we begin. What I want is to "catch" any move in either ear towards forward. MUCH harder than you would think!
Ringo is eager to demonstrate all he knows. He turns around, drops his head, backs up ... all with his ears back! So I don't click anything and then he gets frustrated. A flick of an ear - YES! so I click and treat.
We do this for awhile but the penny hasn't dropped for him yet - he really has no idea what I am asking.
And the more he concentrates, the more frustrated he gets, the further back his ears go. OY!
Today I think I will work outside. There's something about being in his stall that makes Ringo think of food.