Welcome to my blog - a diary about living with donkeys, notes about care, my training sessions and the absolute pleasure of donkey companionship.

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Bullying, dominance & clicker training

Yesterday Jenny came by for a visit and we went out to talk with the donkeys.  Ringo has been cooped up as I closed off several paddocks until his hoof heals.  So maybe he was bored and feeling restless ... who knows.

In any case he was all over me, crowding and really in my space.  Clothing grabbing is next up. This is his typical dominance behaviour and one that I have been unable to change.  To be honest, I really don't understand how to work with this behaviour.  When we are clicker training, I can reward him for backing up, standing and staying out of my space or for standing quietly beside me without crowding ... and I know that one is "always training" whenever you are with your animals.  I hear Alex's voice saying "the donkey doesn't know when it doesn't count, so it always has to count."

Fair enough. But last Fall, with three donkeys at large, my simple appearance caused pandemonium for awhile as each donkey became clicker savvy.  They'd see me and think "the lady with the treats!" and then jostle each other to get to me.  I didn't like it and couldn't walk from the house to the studio without a stampede. I needed a visual cue other than myself to let that donkeys know that "now we are training." 

So I went back to using my treat pouch as a visual cue for the donkeys and they understood immediately ... no pouch, I guess we aren't going to be asked to "do" something, therefore we aren't getting treats.  Calm returned.  They'd see me, look up and continue whatever they were doing.

Ringo though, gets into these pushy moods and the only thing I can think of is either "leave" or stand my ground.  The latter is hard though, as he can intimidate me and get me to move or back up, when it should be me who gets him to move first.  He will back up and drop his head if I ask him, but if I don't click and therefore don't reward him, in he comes again and each time, more boldly.

Thinking of making him a sandwich board that says" will work for food!"

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