So you have your first-ever waterfowl and welcome him to his new home, but to your dismay, he won’t get near you and is too scared to approach you.
Now you’re left wondering how to tame a duck and lure him to get close to you.
We know it can be frustrating when you’re in that situation, especially if you’re a newbie in the duck-keeping world and your bubble has burst. But know that your waterfowl isn’t a hopeless case.
In this article, we’ll share some tips on how to tame a duck. In particular, you’ll discover:
- How you can take advantage of imprinting
- What treats to use to lure your waterfowl
- And how to hand training can help you get closer to your ducks
So, without further ado, let’s get right into it and learn how to tame a wild duck and duckling.
8 Tips on How to Tame a Duck
Every duck has a unique personality, so take time to know which is friendly and which is aggressive to understand how to deal with them.
It’s generally easier to raise ducks when you raise them from ducklings and hand-train them.
But the question will be how to tame a baby duck. If that’s what concerns you, here’s a tip for you.
1. Take Advantage of Imprinting While They’re Young
Did you know that day-old ducklings tend to follow and think of the person or creature they first see or hear after hatching as “mom”? That is one of the finest ways of taming ducks which is imprinting.
But how can you do that? The trick is to ensure you’re the first person or large moving object they’ll ever see after hatching.
This type of duck imprinting is called filial imprinting and typically occurs between the first 24-48 hours of life.
At this period, the duckling will learn to follow its mother, the first moving object they see.
Your voice also plays a part in this process. Even if you just bought a day-old waterfowl, you can imprint to them by speaking calmly and softly while opening the box and introducing them to the brooder.
Make sure to speak calmly every time you approach the brooder. This way, they won’t be started with your looming figure.
It’d also help if you could bring healthy treats when you arrive because it can help them associate you with good things and look forward to you rather than fear.
However, you must know it requires commitment, patience, and resources because the ducklings will follow you wherever you go.
But imprinting is temporary because they’ll eventually stop following and tracking you when the waterfowl grows a little older.
However, through imprinting, you can lay a foundation of trust and help them be tamer their entire lives.
The ideal time to get the ducklings is when they’re 3 days old. But if you want your little ducks to imprint on you, it’s best to get them and start talking to them a day before hatching.
2. Spend Lots of Time With Your Duck
Your waterfowl will think that you’re part of the flock if you’d spend lots of time with them, even more so if you’d hand raise them.
But in the wild, ducklings cry incessantly when they get separated from their mother and look for her.
So if you don’t have enough time to spend with your tiny ducklings while their young, it’s best to give them a playmate because being alone isn’t good for these social creatures.
3. Bribe Them With Treats
If the way to a man’s heart is through a stomach, it’s safe to say that the way to a duck’s heart is through a treat.
Treats are effective in enticing your duck to come close to you, and you’ve got a lot of choices to do that.
You can use:
- dried worms
- whole grains
- leafy greens
4. Talk to Your Ducks
As said earlier, your voice can do magic in your duck’s heart. You can establish trust by simply talking to them calmly and gently before you arrive at their coop and while interacting with them.
This trick can help your waterfowl feel comfortable around your presence and keep them calm and stress-free, knowing you won’t harm them.
5. Get Down On Their Level
Sit among your waterfowl occasionally to encourage them to check you out and forage near you. You can either sip your coffee or read your favorite book while sitting with them.
Not only is it fun, but it will also make your ducks think you’re part of the flock. As a result, they’ll learn to enjoy your company.
If your ducks hesitate to approach you while sitting, the key to drawing them to you is treats.
Just put them in a dish near your feet, and they can surely magnetize many, if not all, the ducks.
6. Relax and Stay Calm
Since ducks are prey, they’re wary of their surroundings, and it wouldn’t help if you’d scare them away.
As much as possible, try to act like you’re not a predator but a friend they can count on.
Avoid staring into their eyes and walk relaxedly when approaching them. Don’t make sudden movements or loud noises. Otherwise, you’ll end up scaring them.
8. Hand Train Your Duck
Now let’s get to another important part of taming ducks. If those tips don’t work, try these hand-training techniques to tame your waterfowl.
Trick Them With a Treat
Position your hand like there’s a hole in it and put some treats inside to entice them.
They’ll surely be delighted when they discover a tasty treat inside and will happily nibble on your hands.
If they’re too afraid to come close to you to get the treat, don’t force them to do so.
Instead, try to throw the yummy treat closer and closer to you. Then, see how close they’ll get to you.
Pet Them Gently
Ducks should always be handled gently, especially when they are young.
Hold out your other hand slowly and rub or tickle the ducks’ heads as they approach to explore the rewards.
They won’t be aware of being touched since they will be so preoccupied with the meal.
Light touching will ease their anxiety and prepare them for future interactions that may last longer.
Since ducks are naturally predatory animals, reaching for them too rapidly or violently will scare them away. Let them come to you instead.
Pick Them Up Regularly
Put a hand over one of your ducks’ wings as it gets close enough to be grabbed, then gently pull it off the ground.
Keep one arm underneath the bird’s body to hold the duck’s weight and keep its legs in place. After a little period of time, release it while speaking soothingly to it.
The ordinary duck can accept being petted rather well, but it could take some time to become used to being held. Consider giving them a two-handed pet or luring them into your lap with treats.
Let your ducks go if they don’t want to be held. Forcefully taking them will train them to fear being lifted up.
Hold Your Ducks For a Long Time
Your ducks will eventually become so accustomed to being touched that they won’t be afraid when they see you reaching out to touch them.
Then you may pick them up to clean, control, or cuddle with them.
Are Ducks Hard to Tame?
Ducks are quite trainable, although some breeds are more challenging to tame than others.
But if you’d raise and handle them gently and frequently while they’re still tiny ducklings, they’ll be more friendly toward people.
However, some ducks don’t like to be approached by their backs because it can scare them. So we recommend facing them while keeping yourself calm and composed.
Why Do Ducks Need to Be Tamed?
Taming a duck is beneficial because it’s fun to walk with, pet, and put ducks on our lap and because it’d be easier to evaluate and care for them when they’re sick or injured if they’re tamed.
Giving your waterfowl some medication is also a piece of cake if they’re calm and comfortable with you.
Friendliest Duck Breeds That Are Easy to Tame
Some breeds are calmer than others, and if you’re looking for friendly and easy-to-tame waterfowl, here are the best options for you, including their score based on calmness.
1. Saxony ducks – 9.0
This calm and docile breed is a gem with excellent performance in both the egg production and meat department.
They’re prized for their elegant appearance, flavorful meat, and delectable fat.
Saxony duck breed features cream-colored bellies with dark brown eyes and dark orange bills and feet.
Males usually have deep chestnut or burgundy chests with a white ring around the neck, while females have peach or salmon-colored plumage.
2. Muscovy ducks – 9.0
Another easy-to-tame bird on this list is the Muscovy duck breed, one of the world’s oldest domesticated fowl species.
You can usually find them in urban parks where they mix with other breeds and feed on whatever park visitors share with them.
They often have black plumage with a greenish gloss and white wing patches.
The males feature red wart-looking bumps on the face and are the largest duck in North America, although their female counterparts are only half their size.
3. Silver Appleyard – 8.8
This dual-purpose breed is not as famous as the previous breed, but they’re easy to handle and friendly, so they’re worth adding to your flock.
Silver Appleyard drakes feature a greenish-black head and neck with reddish-chestnut breasts, sides, and shoulders adorned with white frosting and lacing.
The females, on the other hand, are pale and range from silver to white.
4. Welsh Harlequin – 8.7
This breed is known for its docile nature, and duck owners usually keep them as backyard pets and egg layers.
Welsh Harlequins are usually inquisitive and like to interact with humans.
5. Black Swedish – 7.7
Black Swedish ducks are hardy birds with dark feathering and white bib that runs from under their bill to halfway down their breast.
That’s why they look like waterfowl wearing tuxedos.
Frequently Asked Questions About Taming Ducks
How do I tame a wild duck?
The best way to establish trust and tame wild ducks is to show up regularly and feed them by yourself every day if possible.
Treats can also help to lure them. But don’t attempt to pick up or handle them unless they’re injured or sick otherwise; they may bite you.
How do you make a duck a pet?
Ducks aren’t actually meant to be pets that are kept indoors, but you must ensure they have enough space and water source when they’re outdoors.
They also need a secure home to live in that will keep them away from predators. A chicken coop with a run will do, but you can also build one yourself.
Is it safe to pick up a duck?
You can pick up a waterfowl if it’s tamed, but never pick them up by its wings, feet, or neck, as it can harm them.
And as mentioned earlier, don’t handle wild duck because they act aggressively if it hasn’t been trained to get accustomed to petting and handling.
How do you get a duck to trust you?
There’s a higher chance your ducks will like and trust you when they’re frequently around people at a very young age, ideally when they’re three days old or just hatching. Another trick that will help is the treat.
Can ducks be tamed?
Yes, ducks can be tamed, but there’s a higher chance of taming them if you’d start at an early age and take advantage of imprinting and utilizing treats.
Do ducks bond with humans?
Ducks can bond with humans if handled frequently from a very early age. Imprinting is powerful as it can make them feel like you’re a part of their flock.
How to Tame a Duck: Final Tips
The younger you get the duck, the easier it will be for you to tame them.
The key to having tame ducks is imprinting at a young age, spending lots of time with them, and giving them their favorite treats. Calmly talking to your ducks can also help.
But if those tricks don’t work, don’t force your waterfowl to like you because you can’t.
Instead, try sitting beside them and putting dishes with treats near you.
Then, avoid eye contact when approaching them. Stay calm and try to hand train them so they’ll get accustomed to being handled.
However, you need to be realistic; not all ducks will like you. They’ll always have that instinct that makes them wary of their surroundings.
But with persistence and continuous effort, you’ll get to establish trust. In time, they’ll realize you’re their refuge and the person they can rely on.
We hope you’ll find this guide on how to tame wild ducks or domesticated ones helpful. Have you ever tried it?
If yes, share with us your experience and techniques in the comment section below.