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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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Donkey Welfare Symposium ... I'm going!

I am VERY excited that I am able to attend the 2nd Donkey Welfare Symposium at UC Davis, CA
in just 2 weeks!

It promises to be three intense days full of information and experiences.  I am signed up to attend clinics in dentistry, farrier work and parasitology as well as morning presentations on a wide scope of donkey-related topics, including driving, packing and training.

Should be amazing and I'll be sure to take several blank notebooks and report back.

On another note, we have had torrential rains already (early this year!)  The donkeys are getting very wet every day and I am always torn between confining them, which I rarely do and letting them decide to go to shelter.  This has always been my approach.  However I am already worried about rain rot.  

In the evenings, I lay towels over their backs while they are eating and I am doing the final chores of the day.  I figure at least the towels might wick up some moisture for the brief time they are on the donkeys.
Heather and Rose love to be toweled off but Dorrie and Siog, not so much.  

I am slowly training them to allow this by using both positive and negative reinforcement.  Remember that "negative" reinforcement means the removal (think subtraction) of something the donkey wants to "avoid," while positive reinforcement means the addition of something the donkeys want.

So by offering the towel and then removing it, I am taking away the thing the donkey wants to avoid.  This is negative reinforcement.   When paired with a click to mark the behaviour I want:  donkey standing still, and treat (positive reinforcement) the learning process is made very clear, the donkey is not threatened by the offending object.  

Slowly I can build duration: towel stays on back longer, and increase criteria:  I can move the towel to dry them off!

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