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How to Tame a Donkey

| Updated September 26, 2017

Things You'll Need

  • Enclosed pen

  • Food container

  • Water container

  • Food

  • Treats (optional)

  • Pole, stick or long back scratcher (optional)

A long history of relationships exists between humans and donkeys, going back approximately 6,000 years, according to the Smithsonian National Zoological Park. Additionally, when bred to a horse, the female donkey, a jennet, produces mules and a male donkey, a jack, produces hinnies. Taming helps builds a foundation for further training. Once tamed, donkeys are used for companionship, riding, pulling carts or farm equipment, breeding stock and even protecting sheep and goats, according to author Britton Huggins, in "Equus asinus,” Animal Diversity Web.

Evaluate the size, age and history of the donkey to determine necessary safety measures. Plan to work slower with older, sick or injured donkeys and pregnant or nursing jennets. Delay taming nursing jennets, if possible, to avoid aggression issues related to protecting the foal.

Prepare an enclosed, fenced area with shelter that gives you the ability to give food and water without entering the fencing. Practice walking and filling food and water buckets in a slow manner.

Place the donkey in the designated area. Learn basic donkey body language to make working with it easier. Avoid or slow training when the donkey shows fearful responses. Recognize when the donkey requires solitude, shown by lowering it's head, tucking the tail and walking away, according to KBR Horse Net.

Talk soothingly while providing food and water. Walk several feet from the food and stand or sit, talking gently, until the donkey approaches the food. Repeat the process twice a day for several days, remaining closer to the food each time until the donkey eats with you within 5 feet of the bucket. Walk slowly around the area while talking at other times to allow it to get used to your presence.

Allow the donkey to learn to trust you by talking while not attempting to touch it. Hold the food container, arms outstretched, for the donkey to eat while you talk. Repeat the process for several feedings until it shows only relaxed behaviors. Begin feeding the donkey while inside the fencing with it.

Hold your hand completely flat with food, such as an apple, carrot or commercial equine treat, in your palm, hand stretched outward, while talking in a calm voice. Stand completely still, giving the donkey at least 5 minutes to approach and take the treat. Repeat the process until the donkey takes the treat from your hand. Try giving the treat prior to feeding. Use hand feeding to increase the bond between you and the donkey, advises the Donkey Society of Western Australia.

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Consider using a cane, long back scratcher or pole to gently touch or rub the donkey with. Use shorter instruments each day until you are standing next to it. Slowly put one palm on the donkey’s neck or shoulder and rub it. Continue to use your voice to calm and praise the donkey while you stroke it. Increase the areas you touch from neck to shoulder to back and other areas.


  • Stop all movement until the donkey settles if you startle it.


  • Do not try to force the donkey to accept you to avoid causing potentially dangerous offensive responses.