Donkeys are intelligent, curious animals that need toys to play with. In the wild, they spend most of their time exploring their environment for food and companionship.
Domesticated donkeys constantly search their space for novel experiences to replicate that level of mental stimulation. Without it, they may become bored, disinterested, and depressed.
Few of us can provide our donkeys with a natural environment where they can roam 20km a day. But, we can provide them with toys and activities to keep them mentally stimulated.
- What kind of toys do donkeys like?
- 5 Great Field Donkey Toys to Use In Play Time
- DYI Donkey Toys and Other Cheap Toys For Mini Donkeys
- Best Enriching Activities and Games For Donkeys
- Interactive Games People Can Play with Donkeys
- Reasons Donkey Toys Enrich Adult, Mini, And Baby Donkeys
- Four Rules for Enriching your Donkey’s Environment
- Donkey Toys FAQs
What kind of toys do donkeys like?
Donkeys like to play with any toy you can give them, especially ropes and balls, which are especially entertaining to donkeys. Chew toys are also fun for mini donkeys.
Leave your jacket hanging on the fence, and it will soon be tossed in the air and trampled on. Inexpensive items like old boots, rubber buckets, or tires will keep a couple of donkeys occupied all morning. Rope and balls are especially entertaining to donkeys.
Providing a donkey toy will help stimulate and keep donkeys healthy and entertained. Find out the best toys for donkeys you can give to them in this article!
5 Great Field Donkey Toys to Use In Play Time
Toys designed for horses are just as stimulating for donkeys. They cost a bit more than our cheap toys but are a great way to treat your donkey to something new and make them happy.
#1 Likit Tongue Twister: Irresistible Happy Treat for Donkey
Attach this durable toy to the fence and give your donkey hours of entertainment and satisfaction. The smell of the treats inside will initially attract your donkey, who will find the challenge of getting to those treats irresistible and absorbing. Check Price it on Amazon
#2 Jolly Horse Ball: Most Fun Toy for Baby Donkeys
Adult donkeys love balls and baby donkeys quickly figure out to play with balls as well! They kick them, chase them, push them with their noses, and fight over them. Once they’ve gotten used to a ball, you can start playing with them using the tips below. Click here to see on Amazon
#3 Mineral Lick: Great to Boost Their Body
Hang a salt block in your donkey’s enclosure, and you’ll boost his electrolytes while alleviating boredom. See on Amazon
#4 Ball Feeder: Motivates Donkeys to Have Fun While Eating
Enrich your donkey’s environment with a ball feeder to entertain them during feeding time. Stuff these multi-sided toys with your donkey’s favorite treats. The donkey needs to push the ball around until the treats pop out of the hole on one side. This game will keep your donkey’s mind engaged and encourage him to savor his food more. Check it out on Amazon
#5 Pas-a-Fier Stall Toy: Perfect for Stressed Donkeys
This unusual toy is ideal for anxious or stressed donkeys. It has three rubber wheels that rotate when your horse noses or licks them. Donkeys will be attracted to it by the apple scent and their natural curiosity. On Amazon.
DYI Donkey Toys and Other Cheap Toys For Mini Donkeys
Keeping your donkey entertained doesn’t have to cost an area and a leg. These 10 inexpensive donkey toys will give your donkeys plenty of mental stimulation, exercise, and entertainment.
1. Plastic traffic cone
Donkeys love biting at plastic traffic cones and carrying them around in their mouths. This video illustrates that they love them so much they’ll even fight over them.
2. Rubber feed bucket
Even an empty feed bucket can be a toy, especially for donkey foals, who are more curious and playful than adults.
3. Wellington boot
An old Wellington boot will keep your donkeys entertained for hours. Whether they’re biting it, carrying it around, or playing tug of war with it, it’ll be a big hit!
4. Rubber tire
Old bicycle tires double up as chew toys for playful donkeys, allowing them to flex their jaw muscles.
5. An old football
Donkeys will kick, bite, and push an old football around with their noses. Try kicking the ball toward your donkey and see what his reaction is.
6. Tree stump
Donkeys won’t necessarily play games with a tree stump, but they will enjoy having one as a scratching post.
7. Dirt pile
A dirt pile may not sound like a lot of fun to you, but it can provide endless entertainment to a herd of donkeys. They’ll run up and down the hill, stand on the top, and defend their elevated position with rears and kicks, and eventually lose their footing and tumble back down to the bottom, where the game starts all over again.
8. Non-toxic logs
Depending on the size of the log, donkeys will either play with it or rub on it. Either way, it will keep the boredom at bay!
9. Plastic drain pipe
Instructions: Slice it at one end and insert the other to create a hula hoop. Donkeys don’t play with hula hoops the way humans do, but they still get a lot of stimulation from biting them and throwing them in the air.
10. Thick knotted rope
A length of sturdy rope with a knot at either end is ideal for a game of tug of war.
Donkey Play Develops Skills
Donkeys will grab many of these items in the teeth and shake them around as they rear and cavort. They’ll clamber up dirt piles, paw at them, and roll in them. Logs will have every last leaf removed, along with the bark, while tree stumps make ideal rubbing posts.
All these toys encourage donkeys to perform natural behavior patterns. You’ll see your donkeys attack rubber feed buckets and footballs as they would predators in the wild.
A donkey that paws at a pile of dirt is mimicking the behavior of his ancestors. They pawed at the ground to dig out nutritious grassroots.
Approaching and sniffing new objects enables donkeys to work through the potential danger or reward posed by unknown items. They may even freeze or run away if startled, which is a natural behavioral pattern.
Interacting with new objects stimulates the donkey’s problem-solving skills and encourages them to develop new coping mechanisms.
My Favorite Equine Resources For Horses and Donkeys
This list contains affiliate products. Affiliate products do not cost more but helps to support BestFarmAnimals and our goal to provide farm animal owners with accurate and helpful information.
Squeaky Chicken Toy is hilarious to watch and the horses love it! It’s not super tough so keep it away from dogs.
Manna Pro Apple Flavored Nuggets are a delicious smelling treat that my horses go crazy over.
Equinity Amino Acid Supplement for Horses makes a big difference for any horse that’s struggling with arthritis, hoof issues, or just generally. It’s great for older horses who can’t absorb all the nutrients in their food as well!
Manna Pro Weight Accelerator helps older horses gain weight and stay healthier! This was especially helpful when one of my older horses lost weight over the winter and helped her regain her weight over the summer!
Farnam Fly Control goes on the horse or donkey and will keep the flies off your sweet pet. It makes horses way more comfortable and will keep sores from getting infected as well.
Wound Kote protects sores and wounds. It acts as an antiseptic and helps wounds heal faster. It works on both my horses and goats.
Best Enriching Activities and Games For Donkeys
Donkeys are naturally playful creatures. Given something to play with and they’ll soon make up their own games. Even if no other donkeys are around to play with, they’ll find another species to make up the numbers. Dogs, alpacas, and humans are all good substitutes!
We’ve based these five activities for donkeys around their favorite games:
Tug of War Is Best For Donkeys Playing With Other Donkeys
Donkeys will play tug of war with almost anything. I’ve seen (too many) YouTube videos of donkeys wrestling over Wellington boots, sticks, ropes, and balls. Tug of war is best left to the professionals. Any human trying to join in will only lose.
Hide and Seek Trains Them to Hunt
Getting your donkey to hunt out hidden treats encourages him to use his legendary sense of smell and natural inquisitiveness. Don’t let your donkey see where you’re hiding the treats, but do get him started by showing him the first one.
If a donkey fully trusts you, you can play and hide instead. Donkeys love to seek out their trusted person, so it’ll try to find you as well.
Follow the Trail Game Makes Your Bored Donkey Happy
Similar to a game of hide and seek, in this activity you set a trail for your donkey using a different type of incentive and then ask him to follow it. Again, don’t let your donkey see where you’re placing the treats – let him sniff them out for himself
Fruit, like bananas, apples, and oranges are great for this activity. As your donkey follows the trail, not only will he get some exercise, but he’ll also get to experience new smells and tastes.
Create an Obstacle Course Inside an Enclosure
Strategically position a few obstacles in your donkey’s enclosure, making sure he’ll need to step over or around them to access his food. This will improve your donkey’s concentration and coordination while giving him a new mental challenge.
Ball Games or Chew Toys Stimulate Donkeys
Most donkeys seem to prefer biting and shaking horse balls rather than kicking them but, either way, it makes for some stimulating exercise. As they rear, push, and chase the ball, donkeys get to express their natural aggression in a non-dangerous manner.
Interactive Games People Can Play with Donkeys
Playing with your donkey doesn’t have to involve any special equipment or toys. Just spending time with him offers some level of stimulation and social interaction. Similarly, grooming and picking out your donkey’s feet is a great way to keep him engaged and entertained.
If you want to go a step further, the following activities and games give you the chance to interact with your donkey. It will teach him new skills using positive reinforcement.
They will stimulate your donkey mentally. Games also help you build a better bond with each other. Plus, it encourages him to move his body and use his muscles in different ways, making him more supple and flexible.
Follow these basic rules to keep your donkey games safe and enjoyable for both of you:
- Before starting any game with your donkey, be aware of his instincts and body language.
- Create a safe space for your donkey in which he can be confident about exploring new objects.
- Be patient and don’t pressure him for results. If your donkey’s not interested in a plastic traffic cone, replace it with a different toy that simulates his interest.
- Be prepared to adapt the games to suit your individual donkey.
- Your donkey should already be halter trained before you attempt any of these activities.
Go for a Walk
Take your donkey out for a walk or even a run. This is a great way to bond with your equine buddy. It helps both of you to get some fresh air and exercise. A walk also gives your donkey mental stimulation. Introduce your donkey to new objects and smells along the way to make the experience even more gratifying.
Follow my Leader
Start with your donkey on a halter and lead rope. Walk in front of him, putting a little pressure on the rope if he hesitates. Once he follows you in a straight line, throw in the occasional turn or stop.
Your donkey should mirror your every move, using his muscles and improving his flexibility simultaneously. This will also help establish you as the herd leader and encourage your donkey to trust you more.
Step over an Obstacle
Take your donkey out for a walk, looking for natural obstacles like fallen branches, ditches, and puddles. Let him explore each new object. Use your clicker and treats to reward his natural curiosity. If you can’t his enclosure, take the obstacles to him. Put some poles or cones in his enclosure and perform the exercise there.
Bring an exercise or horse ball into your donkey’s enclosure and let him explore it. Once he’s used to the new object, try to engage him further by throwing or kicking the ball towards him.
Observe his reactions. If he runs away, leave the ball on the ground and let him approach again in his own time. If he runs towards it and pushes it, push it back to him and start an interactive ball game.
Hide and Seek
Hide a selection of treats in cardboard boxes or under buckets and place them around your donkey’s enclosure. With their highly developed sense of smell, donkeys will quickly pick up the scent of their favorite treats and start seeking them out. Working out where the treats are and how to get them will stimulate your donkey and give you plenty of entertainment.
Reasons Donkey Toys Enrich Adult, Mini, And Baby Donkeys
Toys and other forms of mental stimulation encourage donkeys to perform different tasks. As they work their way through new challenges, they increase their behavioral diversity. This encourages them to perform natural behaviors and helps reduce the frequency of abnormal behaviors or vices, such as braying, pawing, biting, or eating wood.
The best field toys for donkeys will also encourage them to increase their range of normal behavior patterns. This will mean your donkeys utilize their environment more, finding more positive and engaging experiences within their enclosure.
As they interact with different objects, so they learn new coping mechanisms that will enable them to cope better with future challenges.
Playtime is also gym time for donkeys; they’ll build muscle and maintain weight better when naturally stimulated. That means you’ll have a fitter, healthier companion to hang out with.
Toys and interactive activities don’t just benefit the donkey – they also stimulate you, the owner. Your imagination will be challenged as you invent new ways to enrich your donkey’s life. Interacting with your donkey is also a positive experience that boosts your sense of well-being. Watching a donkey engage with his toys is also great for the soul!
To kickstart your imagination, we’ve compiled a list of toys, activities, and games you can play with your donkey to stimulate and enrich his environment.
Four Rules for Enriching your Donkey’s Environment
These four simple rules will help you enrich your donkey’s environment without constantly introducing new toys.
#1 Encourage Movement
Change the layout of your donkey’s enclosure daily or weekly. Put his food in different places or give him access to alternative water sources. Move him to a different location for grooming and training sessions. Shift the order of his toys around, or even hide them in a pile of straw.
#2 Renew Entertainment
Like children, donkeys quickly tire of new toys. Have a selection of toys and change them in rotation, giving your donkey a diversity of stimuli every few days.
#3 Refresh Toys and Tools
Replace any old, worn logs with fresh ones, and refresh your salt lick every few months. Give old toys a good scrub to reignite your donkey’s interest in them.
#4 Invent New Games
Think of new ways to stimulate your donkey. Hide a couple of carrots in an old boot, take him for a stroll, or give him new obstacles to negotiate in his enclosure.
Donkey Toys FAQs
How to make DIY toys for donkeys?
You can make DIY toys for donkeys by filling old milk cartons with treats, pieces of rope, and old boots all make for great DIY toys for donkeys. You can enrich your donkey’s environment cheaply and easily – all you need is a little imagination! Donkeys will amuse themselves for hours with old bicycle tires, pieces of rope, and even deflated soccer balls!
How do donkeys play?
When playing together, donkeys play by chasing each other around, they rear up and nip each other’s necks. If they’ve got toys, they’ll often throw them in the air, kick and push them, and wrestle one another for possession. Donkeys’ games tend to be rough, but they also enjoy the mental stimulation of puzzles and hide-and-seek games.
Domesticated donkeys need mental stimulation and the opportunity to perform natural behavior patterns. Enriching their environment with toys and obstacles helps stave off boredom and depression.
As social animals, donkeys relish the opportunity to engage with others. You can facilitate this by providing them with toys and activities that stimulate them mentally, socially, and physically.
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