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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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Walking with 2 donkeys

I love walking with a donkey and I usually head out with one on a lead and leave two back at home.  When Deenah was here, she had terrible separation anxiety if I took Dorica out, not so much Siog, and I tried so hard to ease her mind.

I worked in baby steps, taking Dorrie out for just 5 minutes, bringing her back, or staying where Dee could see us through a fence, then rewarding her if she stayed calm.  Nothing worked though and poor Deenah would scrape her chest by hoisting herself up against the fence rails and all kinds of other misdemeanors that could, and sometimes did, result in injury.

So, not wanting to stress Deenah, Dorica mostly stayed home or went for short jaunts.  She really needs the exercise though and I was always sorry to leave her behind. 

So now I have two donkeys and managing them both on the road is not so easy.  You'd think with clicker training, it would be a piece of cake to train them to walk with me, not pull, not eat, etc. etc.  Within the paddock fences, they are absolutely wonderful and I know that behaviour can break down when you change the context.  Out on the road, it's just too exciting!

But last night I tried again and it was ... okay!  With one donk on either side of me, I held both lead ropes with the excess bundled at my stomach.  They had some slack but not too much.  For the most part it worked okay - we didn't go far.  Dorrie kept pulling to the right and I had to keep asking her to soften her neck.

Clicker training can be challenging when working two animals together, but keeping Ken Ramirez's words in mind, that "every animal is doing something,"  I always reward both donkeys if they hear a "click!"
If I need to reposition both of them, I'll ask them to back up or drop their heads or touch my hands.
That way they associate the behaviour with the click.

It's very hot here now so daytime walking is not pleasant but we'll go out a bit every day if possible.
But even though I'm keen to practice with the two donkeys, I'm fairly certain I'll take in another or perhaps two (sigh.)

That being said, I must get to my studio - showtime is approaching fast!


  1. I have been wanting to walk my two at the same time forever! I haven't even attempted it yet (outside of my property). I'll be checking back to see how you do! I might try to get an 'assistant' to help me clicker train them to walk on the road together. Either like a pack string or like the beach donkeys (right next to each other).

  2. I've been walking with 1 donk on either side of me. We practice a lot within the paddocks. I haven't tried tying them together as I'm worried about a possible train-wreck if something happens but I think if you do this, you'd want a panic snap on the lead that attaches them together so they can separate if need be!

  3. I sometimes walk with my 2 donkeys! It's not easy, because they know too well that if they both pull on opposite sides, I can't go anywhere anymore so they can eat. They walked one behind the other.

    I've got one new donkey now (one died), and I walk them on my property attached together with 10 meters of rope between them, I stand somewhere in the middle. They learned "left", "right", "other way around", "backwards", "stop" and I get to move them with these commands without too much pulling. I'd like to try on a calm road, but it's trickier. So I'm looking for a way to keep them closer together for safety. Binding them shortly together with the halters doesn't work too good, they start working together. But I'm working on it!