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How Do Donkeys Show Affection?

You may wonder if donkeys show affection to their humans. Maybe you’ve seen a video showing a person hugging a donkey or one that runs up to a person braying. Are these examples of a donkey showing affection? 

You may wonder if you can have that kind of relationship with your donkey.

Yes, Donkeys are affectionate. There are several ways to show how they feel about their human and each other.

Let’s dive into the varied ways that these lovable animals show affection. We’ll also discuss how to help your donkey trust you and be more affectionate to you.

In What Ways Do Donkeys Show Affection?

In What Ways Do Donkeys Show Affection?

Donkeys have several ways to show affection, and they do this not just for other donkeys but for their humans too. However, the way they show love is unlike cats and dogs. 

That is why some people may think these animals aren’t affectionate. You need to know what to look for to understand how loving donkeys can be.

Donkeys show affection to humans they feel safe with and are bonded to. Then they will come to you and let you know that they like you. 

Here are some ways they show they’re bonded with you:

Being close to you

They will come up to you when you approach them and want to stand next to you. They may position themselves so you will scratch one of their favorite spots. These can be:

  • the withers
  • under the chin
  • between their ears
  • side of the face
  • their backside


When they come up to you, donkeys may lean into you. Some of them like hugs, such as wrapping your arms around their neck or cradling their head. 

Move slowly at first so you can tell if your donkey likes it. Not all will. But he may like it so much that he pushes his head into you when he is near you.

Grooming or nibbling you 

Donkeys groom each other with nibbles and bites, and they may try to do the same to you. 

This can be painful for us humans, though. Gently push his head away if he tries to bite you. Don’t yell or hit him but just be firm and push his head away from you.


They bray for different reasons. One way they show affection for you is to start braying and walking or running up to you when you are approaching them.

How Do Donkeys Show Affection to Other Donkeys?

How Do Donkeys Show Affection to Other Donkeys?

These animals need another donkey to be friends with and pair up with a buddy. They can have a horse for a companion, but they do best with one of their own kind. 

In a herd of donkeys, most of them will be in pairs, staying near each other most of the time. 

There are several ways they show affection to their donkey friends.

  • Donkey buddies like to groom each other. They will stand with their necks parallel to each other and nibble one another’s neck, withers, and back.
  • They will also rest their head on their donkey friend. One will drape his head on his buddy’s back. They may also blow into each other’s nostrils.
  • They may also play rough and bite each other. Donkeys will chase each other around the pasture. The one in front may even kick out at the other while running. 
  • They also will rear up in play fighting and nip at each other. Don’t worry; they rarely get hurt when they are doing this.
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You may also find donkeys playing tug-of-war with each other. Toys for them include:

  1. a jolly ball (they will both hold onto the handle with their teeth)
  2. a large, knotted rope toy for dogs
  3. a piece of garden hose
  4. an inner tube (remove the valve stem)

 How do You Bond with Your Donkey?

To get your donkey to bond with you, you need to earn his trust. Spend time with him, be calm, consistent, and predictable in your behavior and routine.

If your donkey is shy or nervous around you, take things slow and allow him to get used to you. Approach him slowly from the side, and step back if he backs away from you. 

When touching a new donkey, start with the withers and neck. Refrain from touching the face and ears until he’s used to you touching his body. 

How do I earn trust and have my donkey bond with me?

How do I earn trust and have my donkey bond with me?

Here are some guidelines for helping your pet bond with you.

Be consistent with feeding times. 

Establish a schedule and stick to it as much as possible. When donkeys know they will be fed regularly and on time, they will feel more relaxed and learn to trust you. 

They will become uneasy for not being sure if they will be fed when they get hungry.

Spend regular time with him 

Feeding and doing chores around your donkey help him get used to you and your habits. 

Talk with him while you are around him. Donkeys are intelligent, and though they may not understand all of what you say, they will understand the tone of your voice.

Spending time each day with your donkey will help prevent boredom and destructive behavior, such as chewing and digging.

Spend time training your donkey 

Get him used to a halter and lead and walk him around the pen. Use treats when he does what you want him to do. You can set up obstacles for him to go around or over. 

Donkeys are very smart and learn quickly. Always end training time on a high note. 

If something is not going well, switch to something you know your donkey can do well and finish the training session with that.

Reward your donkey with praise, petting, and treats when he learns something new and performs well. 

Do not give him treats every time you are with him. It can cause him to gain weight and expect treats whenever he sees you. 

Be calm and relaxed around your donkey.

Do not show anger or frustration. Don’t yell at him and never hit or slap him. He will become fearful of your hands and won’t trust you.

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By staying calm and relaxed around your donkey, he will feel safe around you.

They like to be groomed.

Since donkeys groom each other, they will enjoy being groomed by you. They like being rubbed on their withers and head, neck, and sides of the face.

They love being brushed. Use a stiff brush for your donkey’s body and a soft one for his face, belly, and legs. 

Brush in the direction the hair grows. You can use a comb on the mane and tail. By brushing frequently, you will spot any nicks, cuts, or bites and be able to address them early on.

How to Handle a Donkey Not Used to People?

How to Handle a Donkey Not Used to People?

Depending on their past, donkeys can be wary of humans. Yours will need time and space if he’s not used to you or if he’s been neglected or mistreated by his former person. 

Spend time near your new donkey, so he gets used to you. You can sit in the pen reading a book or be outside the fence, so he sees you while you sit or do gardening.

Until he has started to trust you, avoid being in the kicking zone: behind him and next to each back leg. 

Donkeys not only kick backward but can kick to the side with their back legs. They cannot see directly behind them, so you don’t want to startle them.

Don’t rush the process of bonding with your new pet. Depending on the donkey and his prior experiences, it may take days or even months. 

The key is to be patient and consistent. Let him come to you when he’s ready. It is well worth the wait. Staying calm and patient with your donkey will allow him to trust you.

Don’t bribe your shy donkey with treats. This can make him pushy and mouthy. Do give treats as a reward for doing what you want. 

As he gets more used to you and comes to you on his own, praise him and give him a treat. Teach him the word ‘Come’ so he will walk up to you when you say it and give him a reward for doing so.


Donkeys are social animals who like companionship, whether from their donkey buddy, herd, or human. You now know some of the ways these animals show affection for you and other donkeys.

By using the advice in this article, your donkey will learn to trust you, and you two will more easily bond with each other. This will create a more relaxed and happier relationship with him.

Bonding may take some time, but it is well worth it. A donkey that wants to be with you will bring you joy. He will be happy to see you when you come out to him.

One additional piece of advice:  Have at least two donkeys. They really will be much happier with one of their kind to have as a friend whom they can groom and play with as rough as donkeys like to do.