Why do my ducks still hate me?

416bigbore

Not A Care In The World !
Premium Feather Member
Jun 11, 2020
2,611
13,825
446
NC
Hello, How old are they and what breed? This makes a big difference also. Until your ducks can feel safe being around you, they may view you as a tall predator. Try getting down on their level and this may help, it all takes time just be patient. Best of Luck and please keep us posted. :)
 

Callender Girl

Crowing
Sep 18, 2018
1,688
8,761
486
North Central Iowa
You are not alone. I have 11 runner ducks, and exactly NONE of them want to be held, cuddled or petted. Ten of those have been with me since they were a couple of days old. They brooded in giant clear totes in my guest bedroom. I had my hands in the totes every day to feed them, give them water, change their bedding. It means nothing to them.

They will gladly get underfoot when I head to the feed can. They will race along side me when I take the feed out to their dish. They will run like I'm going to slaughter and eat them if I reach down to touch them. UNLESS, there is feed in my hand; they will tolerate hand feeding as long as I don't try to pet them while they devour the expensive food I provide.

My oldest girl, Quinn, will occasionally allow me to touch her -- if I make it quick. I have recently started just touching them quickly as they eat, hoping to build on that and some day, in the distant future, have ducks who like me. Maybe.
 

Jlw0903

Songster
Jul 2, 2019
114
232
111
Awww as others have said it does depend on the breed often (and individual personality) of the duck as well as how old they were when you got them. Even though i got mine as babies and handled each of them for some time everyday none of them enjoy being picked up or pet. A few will tolerate it for a short time. 3 of my 6 will allow it if getting treats. Only 2 will when picked up not have an absolute panick attack. However my female cayuga and one of my female rouens will not let me even look at them side ways unless i have treats and my drake cauyga will bite the crap outta me if i even reach towards him without treats.
I still force snuggle time on them all however!

Be sure to hand feed with treats often! Get down on their level and be patient. Start my just hand feeding and making no move towards them. As they get comfortable have your other hand hover near them with oht touching. Do this for a while. Then touch them lightly and quickly until they dont react. Always do this as you are feeding. The trick is to 1. Make you the giver of all things good. And 2. Desensitize them to your presence.
Be patient and slow! They may never love pets and being held but they may learn to tolerate it.

I also pair a whistle with treats so i can call my ducks to me. If i whistle they will usually come running now.
 

KaleIAm

Crowing
Premium Feather Member
Jul 13, 2015
1,341
3,290
341
Carnation, Wa
My ducks and I have a wonderful relationship. They come when I call, run to me when they see a scary hawk, eat from my hands, and one even hops into my lap. They still don't want me to pick them up, and so I don't unless they are sick and I am giving them an exam or administering medication. My ducks don't even touch each other unless they are mating. It seems that the ducks who want to be picked up by humans are imprinted.

Two of my 3 ducks (including my lap duck) were adopted as adults. They were absolutely terrified of me - like frantically ran in the other direction and plastered themselves in the corner if I looked at them. This is what I did to help them learn to associate me with positive experiences.

1) I stopped doing everything remotely scary. My ducks didn't like it when I walked fast, walked directly at them, made direct eye contact, or did anything else that made me seem like a predator. So I walked slowly in big arcs around them and looked next to them instead of at them. I noted anything that made them behave afraid and avoided it. They didn't like being surprised, so I spoke well in advance as I approached their aviary. They even felt afraid when I stood near them so I actually crawled several feet away before standing. I know it seems ridiculous, but I wanted them to not see me as scary and I was willing to do whatever it took.

2) Everytime they saw me I made it a positive experience. I wanted them to think, "yay that human is coming!" So even if I was just passing to grab a wrench from the shop I threw them some mealworms. If they caught a glimpse of me they would get some of their favorite snack.

3) I spent crazy amounts of time being still with them. I put a blanket in their aviary and brought a book, my knitting, my lunch, and of course a little jar of mealworms. I hung out with them being quiet and still for as much time as possible. Periodically I threw mealworms to them. As they became comfortable eating the mealworms I threw them closer and closer to me. Eventually they were eating from my hands and lap. It usually took a week or more for them to get comfortable eating mealworms 20 feet away from me, and then I would throw them 15 feet away. They would be very nervous at first, so I would ignore them and read while they ate. As they got comfortable I would look next to them. I was very patient, worked at their pace, and moved as slowly as they needed.

As they got comfortable I quietly said the same phrase while they ate mealworms, "come here ducks." It has been extremely useful. I can call my ducks off our pond!

It took about 2-3 months of dedicated positive association training for my ducks to respond differently to me. Over the years they have continued to bond with me. Can you believe these ducks were ever scared of me?

E39E6123-D335-4B17-BAAD-79318950F142.jpeg
 

Jlw0903

Songster
Jul 2, 2019
114
232
111
My ducks and I have a wonderful relationship. They come when I call, run to me when they see a scary hawk, eat from my hands, and one even hops into my lap. They still don't want me to pick them up, and so I don't unless they are sick and I am giving them an exam or administering medication. My ducks don't even touch each other unless they are mating. It seems that the ducks who want to be picked up by humans are imprinted.

Two of my 3 ducks (including my lap duck) were adopted as adults. They were absolutely terrified of me - like frantically ran in the other direction and plastered themselves in the corner if I looked at them. This is what I did to help them learn to associate me with positive experiences.

1) I stopped doing everything remotely scary. My ducks didn't like it when I walked fast, walked directly at them, made direct eye contact, or did anything else that made me seem like a predator. So I walked slowly in big arcs around them and looked next to them instead of at them. I noted anything that made them behave afraid and avoided it. They didn't like being surprised, so I spoke well in advance as I approached their aviary. They even felt afraid when I stood near them so I actually crawled several feet away before standing. I know it seems ridiculous, but I wanted them to not see me as scary and I was willing to do whatever it took.

2) Everytime they saw me I made it a positive experience. I wanted them to think, "yay that human is coming!" So even if I was just passing to grab a wrench from the shop I threw them some mealworms. If they caught a glimpse of me they would get some of their favorite snack.

3) I spent crazy amounts of time being still with them. I put a blanket in their aviary and brought a book, my knitting, my lunch, and of course a little jar of mealworms. I hung out with them being quiet and still for as much time as possible. Periodically I threw mealworms to them. As they became comfortable eating the mealworms I threw them closer and closer to me. Eventually they were eating from my hands and lap. It usually took a week or more for them to get comfortable eating mealworms 20 feet away from me, and then I would throw them 15 feet away. They would be very nervous at first, so I would ignore them and read while they ate. As they got comfortable I would look next to them. I was very patient, worked at their pace, and moved as slowly as they needed.

As they got comfortable I quietly said the same phrase while they ate mealworms, "come here ducks." It has been extremely useful. I can call my ducks off our pond!

It took about 2-3 months of dedicated positive association training for my ducks to respond differently to me. Over the years they have continued to bond with me. Can you believe these ducks were ever scared of me?

View attachment 2426332
1 your ducks are absolutely adorable!
2. awesome training techniques and advice!
3. good on your for being so patient and I am glad it has paid off so well for you!!!!
 

21hens-incharge

Nuttier than a squirrels stash
Premium Feather Member
Mar 9, 2014
22,544
94,016
1,592
Northern Colorado
My ducks and I have a wonderful relationship. They come when I call, run to me when they see a scary hawk, eat from my hands, and one even hops into my lap. They still don't want me to pick them up, and so I don't unless they are sick and I am giving them an exam or administering medication. My ducks don't even touch each other unless they are mating. It seems that the ducks who want to be picked up by humans are imprinted.

Two of my 3 ducks (including my lap duck) were adopted as adults. They were absolutely terrified of me - like frantically ran in the other direction and plastered themselves in the corner if I looked at them. This is what I did to help them learn to associate me with positive experiences.

1) I stopped doing everything remotely scary. My ducks didn't like it when I walked fast, walked directly at them, made direct eye contact, or did anything else that made me seem like a predator. So I walked slowly in big arcs around them and looked next to them instead of at them. I noted anything that made them behave afraid and avoided it. They didn't like being surprised, so I spoke well in advance as I approached their aviary. They even felt afraid when I stood near them so I actually crawled several feet away before standing. I know it seems ridiculous, but I wanted them to not see me as scary and I was willing to do whatever it took.

2) Everytime they saw me I made it a positive experience. I wanted them to think, "yay that human is coming!" So even if I was just passing to grab a wrench from the shop I threw them some mealworms. If they caught a glimpse of me they would get some of their favorite snack.

3) I spent crazy amounts of time being still with them. I put a blanket in their aviary and brought a book, my knitting, my lunch, and of course a little jar of mealworms. I hung out with them being quiet and still for as much time as possible. Periodically I threw mealworms to them. As they became comfortable eating the mealworms I threw them closer and closer to me. Eventually they were eating from my hands and lap. It usually took a week or more for them to get comfortable eating mealworms 20 feet away from me, and then I would throw them 15 feet away. They would be very nervous at first, so I would ignore them and read while they ate. As they got comfortable I would look next to them. I was very patient, worked at their pace, and moved as slowly as they needed.

As they got comfortable I quietly said the same phrase while they ate mealworms, "come here ducks." It has been extremely useful. I can call my ducks off our pond!

It took about 2-3 months of dedicated positive association training for my ducks to respond differently to me. Over the years they have continued to bond with me. Can you believe these ducks were ever scared of me?

View attachment 2426332
Using the same tactics as much as my crazy life allows I am seeing improvement with mine.

I was pretty impressed with them playing in the water even this far away. To me they seemed relaxed. I will call that a win. Relaxed is good.
IMG_20201105_151836.jpg
 

KaleIAm

Crowing
Premium Feather Member
Jul 13, 2015
1,341
3,290
341
Carnation, Wa
Using the same tactics as much as my crazy life allows I am seeing improvement with mine.

I was pretty impressed with them playing in the water even this far away. To me they seemed relaxed. I will call that a win. Relaxed is good.
View attachment 2426372
One even has their back to you! Definite win!!
 

corriemartin

Chirping
May 6, 2020
218
248
73
Lawrence, KS
I never really tried to "tame" my ducks, but just by being around them a lot, and always moving slowly around them, and some age has made my ducks a whole lot friendlier. I guess I do spend quite a bit of time sitting near them watching them, and they do love clover flowers, so I always picked a bunch and tossed them to them. (But a foot away is about as close as they'll come.) When I herd them back in their house at night, they hardly go fast at all, and I SO want to just reach down and pick one up, but I don't.

I always let them out of their yard when I'm around, and more often than not, they're in my vicinity. They don't really bother to run away when I (or the dogs) go past them, and don't seem to mind power tools, or cars, or the garden cart.

So just by being around people, they do get a whole lot friendlier.
 

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