Saturday, April 21, 2012

Donkey Em's Tips & Techniques For Training Humans

"Hey Ma, I'm ready to start my clinic."

"OK, if you're sure about this..."

"Of course I'm sure, I've got today's subject all picked out."

"Well, what's it going to be then?"

"I thought we'd start out with something simple.  A fun, easy trick that everyone enjoys.

"Oh yeah? sounds interesting."

"Yup, the butt-scratch.  I mean, who doesn't like a good butt-scratch?  And, it can be awfully hard to get you guys to do this right.  Seems like a good place to start."

"Oy.  OK, let me introduce you properly..."

Welcome to Donkey Em's Training Clinic

"Hi out there, can y'all hear me?" 

"Oh, there's no sound??"

"Well, um, I guess you better just read out loud then."

"Yeah, that'll work.  So lets just get started...

Well, we all know how hard it can be to train humans and I know it may seem like a hopeless task sometimes, but it can be done.  All you need is a lot of patience.  It also helps to keep in mind that they just don't think the way we do.  Their senses aren't so sharp either.  They have those funny, round eyes, their noses don't seem to work at all and their ears...well even a horse can tell you that those are nearly hopeless.  

The main problem though, is that they just don't have very good language skills.  You can tell them and tell them things and they just don't listen.  It can be very frustrating. 

Still, they do communicate.  And I know I know, I might be accused of donkopomorphizing, but I do really believe that all those noises and gestures they make are an attempt to talk with us.   So, Take heart, I'm here to tell you that it can be done.  

The secret is to make sure your wishes are so obvious that even the human can see it.  Once you FINALLY have their attention, use LOTS and LOTS of positive reinforcement.  And be sure to keep it positive, they get really grumpy if you try to correct them.

See, humans like to feel useful and they like it when you return their gestures of affection.  Trust me on this one, if you can master this, you'll have 'em wrapped around your hoof in no time!

So, here's how to get started in, a, um, a bunch of easy steps.  Just follow along and you'll have that butt-scratch you've been hoping for...  

First, get in position.  Move up next to the human and then start backing into her.  Go slow here, humans are terribly spooky creatures and may get alarmed if they misinterpret this.

Just keep backing up, nice and slow, until she puts her hands on you, it will be an instinctive reaction.  Of course, it helps if you are my height.  Whatever my height is, it's perfect.   

Once in position, indicate that you would like the scratching to commence...

Here's the really important part.  Your human needs to know that she is actually doing something right.  Time for that positive reinforcement.  Go ahead and drop any dignity and let her know that she is getting it right....

Stretching and craning your neck while making little snoring noises works great.  She won't be able to resist...

And if you start to hear any whining noises that sound like "my arms are getting tired here",  pull out all the stops, let your eyes glaze over and your lip quiver...It gets em every time.

See, it's not so hard.  Next time, I'll demonstrate some more advanced techniques for those of you who have been working with your human for a while now." 

Thanks for coming to my clinic!


  1. That's hilarious, I love it!

  2. BOTH my donkeys love their butts scratched, But They do not get the reactions that Emma does! HOW funny! To approach Buddy, I have to first scratch his butt! LOL

  3. LOL Em you have that move down pat!

  4. How wonderfully funny. The lip quiver always gives it away. Thanks Emma for the lesson. Oma Linda

  5. Excellent presentation, Emma!