Drinking Post Training

There’s one question we always get when it comes to the Drinking Post… “Is my animal smart enough to learn this thing?”. It’s a fair question since the Drinking Post requires the animal to activate the water flow. But, the answer is YES! Your animal is smart enough to learn the Drinking Post (and no, it doesn’t matter how old or stubborn they are). Most people think transitioning to the Drinking Post will take a long period of training – especially since most animals are accustomed to a stock tank or trough. However, it’s much easier than you might think… almost too easy, in fact – a lot of people who have issues with training are just doing too much! In this article I’m going to outline training for you and give you some helpful tips and tricks as well. Once you’ve read this, you’ll have all the info you need to get your animals trained on the Drinking Post. 

Step 1: Take away all other water sourcesTraining requires removing all other water sources.

Before you start your training you’ll remove all other water sources that your animals could access. If they have water available in another (easier) form, they’ll take the path of least resistance and won’t be motivated to learn the Drinking Post. I mean, who can blame them? Work smarter, not harder, am I right?  If they want water, they’ll have to go to the Drinking Post to get it! Don’t worry, they’ll thank you in the long run.


Step 2: Install the correct paddle (the Trainer or a specialty paddle)


Ultimate Training Attachment

Next, you want to make sure you have the correct paddle or paddle attachment on your Drinking Post. 

  • If you have horses, cattle, or other equines or bovines (donkeys, mules, mini horses, etc.), you’ll use a Training Attachment for the first few weeks. Then you’ll remove the attachment and they’ll use the standard flat paddle. This video shows how to remove the Training Attachment. 
  • If you have goats, sheep, or alpacas, you’ll use the Livestock Paddle (pictured below).
  • If you have pigs or hogs, you’ll use the Pig Paddle (pictured below).

Now that you’ve identified the correct paddle style for your animal, you’ll need to put it on the Post. If you have our Ultimate Drinking Post, you’ll simply attach either the Training Attachment or the Specialty Paddle Attachment directly to the standard flat paddle. 



Why does the Training Paddle/Training Attachment work?

For horses and cattle, you’ll use our Training Paddle for Legacy Posts, or our Training Attachment, also called the Easy Riser Attachment, for Ultimate Posts. The standard paddle is flat, whereas the Trainer has a rounded shape that sticks up. It takes up more surface area in the bowl, so it’s much easier for the animal to activate the water. The Trainer allows them to inadvertently activate the water while they’re just checking things out or playing with the Trainer. Most animals will bite, lip, or lick the Trainer when you install it – let them do this, it’s how they learn! In addition to inspecting it on their own, you’ll also do a daily training session (explained in Step 4). During this training session, your animal will drink water from the bowl. As they drink the water down, they’ll likely reactivate the paddle because of the size and shape of the Trainer. When this happens, the lightbulb turns on and they start to learn! 

Why does the Livestock Paddle and Pig Paddle work?

You will use the Livestock Paddle (Legacy) or Livestock Attachment (Ultimate) for sheep, goats, and alpacas. This helps them to use the Drinking Post because it plays on their natural behavior. These animals like to butt things with their head.  This specialized paddle features a weighted block that juts upward, providing a broad surface for them to head-butt, playing on their natural tendencies.  This allows them to use the Post in a way that makes sense for them! Also, since the block is weighted, it makes it easier for smaller animals like goats and sheep to push the paddle. The Pig Paddle/Pig Attachment is very similar. It’s also a weighted block, it’s just a bit smaller. The pig will push it with their snout. Again, this is natural action for the pigs. Unlike the Trainer (which is removed once training is complete), you’ll keep these specialty paddles/attachments on all the time.

Step 3: Make sure they are thirsty

Before you show your animals the Drinking Post, you should make sure they’re thirsty. They’ll be much more motivated to learn the Drinking Post if they’re thirsty and interested in a clean, cool drink. Since you’ve already removed their other water sources, they’ll be so happy when they realize the big white post that showed up the other day is their ticket to a cool drink!

**Keep in mind that you want them to be thirsty, not dehydrated. Don’t let them go too long without a drink.**

You can help them work up a thirst by feeding them hay (they may not be thirsty enough to train after grazing, as fresh grass has water content).  If they’re thirsty, they’ll be more interested in the Drinking Post and more motivated to learn.  

If it’s summer time, you’ll need to balance training with hydration. If you’re worried about leaving them without a water source during the heat of the day during training, you can do your training session mid-morning after they’ve eaten their hay and worked up a bit of thirst. That way, you’re not leaving them without water during the heat of the day. You can give them buckets later in the day, as long as it’s after their training session (outlined in Step 4 below). If you give buckets, do it in an area away from the Drinking Post. You want them to know that when they’re with the Post, they have to use the Post. 

Step 4: Daily Training Session

It’s showtime! Now that you’ve finished your setup steps it’s finally time to show your animals the Drinking Post! Walk your thirsty animal over to the Drinking Post (or you can fill the bowl and splash some water around – a thirsty animal will get curious and come over). You can also halter your animals and bring them up to the Post for more individualized training. Once you have a captive audience, push the paddle and fill the bowl to the top. Then, let them drink the water down. As they drink it down, we hope they’ll reactivate the Trainer and the bowl will refill. The lightbulb in their head should being going off at this point! Even if they don’t reactivate it, that’s okay! Now they know where the water is. Leave them with the Drinking Post for at least a couple hours after your training session to allow them time to re-approach the Drinking Post in case anything clicked.

Once you’ve shown them once, just walk away! This can be the hardest step. Most people want to sit with them and keep watch, but that’s a big no-no!  You just have to trust they’ll figure it out (and they will!). Do one Training Session per day until they figure it out. Some animals learn after just one demonstration. Some need a few days to get the hang of it, but every animal will learn! Don’t worry!


Step 4a: The Molasses Trick

You can use molasses to motivate your animals to interact with the Drinking Post. Just put some molasses on the bowl underneath the paddle.  They will have to work their tongue under the paddle to get to it, and as they do, they might activate the paddle. Anything you can do to encourage individualized interaction with the Drinking Post will be a big help! It’s recommended to do the molasses trick later in the day, after you’ve done your regular training session. When you do this, you will not activate the paddle, just put the molasses under the paddle and let them work on it.

Bonus tips

  • Don’t push the paddle over and over for your animal.
  • If you need to give your animals additional water for hydration, bring them to another area. When they’re in with the Post, they need to use the Post.
  • Only give them additional water after your daily training session.
  • If you have a group or herd, you don’t have to teach each animal individually. As soon as you have one animal going to the Drinking Post, everyone one else will follow.
  • If you have a mama and baby pair, the mom will teach the baby. Focus on training Mom.
  • Make sure your animals are safe and hydrated through out training. Use the Pinch Test – pinch their skin (usually on the neck) and then let go. If the skin snaps back immediately, they’re hydrated. If the skin moves back slowly, this is a sign of dehydration. Get them water right away! Also, take a look at their gums. If their gums become discolored (more white than usual), this is a sign of dehydration. Get them water right away!
  • These training steps are the same for every type of animal.
  • If you’ve followed all these steps and are still having trouble, you may have a special situation on your hands! Don’t fret, your animal will learn, just give us a call and we can help you figure it out!

Remember – Training is Easy! Don’t over complicate things.

Don’t let training deter you, it’s very easy and your animals will pick it up in no time! Not only will your animals get loads of health benefits from all the fresh water they’ll drink, it will make your life so much easier! No more ice in the winter or algae in the summer! Plus, say goodbye to high electricity bills from heating your stock tank or a heated automatic waterer all winter! For more information about what the Drinking Post will do for your animals, you can read up on the health benefits of the Drinking Post. You can also check out an abridged version of these training steps here

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14 thoughts on “Drinking Post Training”

  1. I have cattle and sheep. But they won’t typically be in same lot at same time. Can I install at height for sheep and interchange paddles depending on what species in the lot?

    • Hi Kevin, yes, that would be a great way to set it up! Size your Post so the above-ground height matches the shoulder height of your sheep (maybe 18″), and then you can add the Livestock Paddle attachment to the paddle when your sheep are in the lot, and then remove it when you cattle are in the lot! Here is a link to Livestock Paddle attachment: https://dpwaterer.com/product/livestock-paddle-riser-attachment/. If you order the Sheep/Goat waterer, the Livestock Paddle Attachment will come with your Drinking Post. If you order the cattle waterer, you will have to order it separately. Either way works!

    • Hi Laura! Our recommendation would be to get one Drinking Post for your horses and donkeys, and one for your goats. But, if you can only get one Drinking Post, then you’d get the Drinking Post for goats. Goats require a special paddle attachment to help them push the paddle (our Livestock Paddle Attachment). Horses and donkeys typically use our standard paddle, but they will be able to learn and use the goat paddle attachment. Also, since the goats are shortest, you would size the above ground height based on the size of your goats. The horses & donkeys will just bend down to use it! They can drink from streams and ponds on the ground, so they’ll be able to comfortably use a shorter Drinking Post. The only thing you’ll need to consider is the taller animals might be able to dirty up or damage the Post if it’s really short – they could step in it, paw at it, poop in it, kick dirt into it, etc. Keep this in mind during installation – you could install it against a structure or in a fence line to reduce access to the Post. You could put a tire around it so they can’t get right up next to it. Your other option is to size it for the donkeys so the Post would be a little taller, reducing the chance that the horses would get it dirty or damage it, and then install a step up to it for the goats to reach. There are many different options, it depends on each customer’s specific situation needs.

  2. W shave 3 horses and 2 sort of have it figured out after 2 weeks and the third doesn’t have it down at all. Ours didn’t come with a training paddle so can we get one or do we need to buy one? Also, is there a reason the training paddle has to be switched to the other paddle? The regular paddle seems super stiff. Hope we can get them some help soon.

    • Hi Marie, every Drinking Post comes with a Training Attachment. If you bought the Ultimate Drinking Post, the Trainer looks like a small bump with 4 tabs on it. If you did not get a Trainer, please call us and we can send one to you. You can leave the Trainer on permanently if you’d like, it just depends on what your animals prefer. Typically, we recommend leaving Trainer on for a couple weeks and then removing it. If you remove it and realize that your animals prefer it, just put the Trainer back on. Just do what’s best for your animals. To answer your concern about it being too stiff, I wouldn’t worry about that. Foals as young as 2 months old can push the paddle down. Full-sized adult horses and cattle can easily push the paddle down. As you know, they have an incredibly strong head and neck! Think about when they nudge you with their head – they can knock you off balance with no effort! Don’t worry, they can easily push the paddle down. If two of your horses have already figured it out, the last one should be quick to follow. They learn from each other!

    • Hi Bill,

      Every Drinking Post does come with a training paddle. On the legacy model it was a separate paddle and on the ultimate it is a clip in attachment. We can help get you the paddle you need. Please reach out to us at 303-482-1642 or email [email protected]


  3. Hi Sara,

    Great question! The major requirement for training is to have Drinking Post be the only source of water. Thirst will be a big incentive for the cattle to figure out the waterer. Each Drinking Post will come with a training attachment to help them figure out the new waterer. Even though there is no standing water in the bowl, the cattle will be able to smell the water is there.

    Give us a call if you have more questions about Drinking Post at 303-482-1642

    Thank you,

  4. How load is the water filling mechanism? I have a Jenny that is very suspicious of the sound of water entering the trough which isn’t very loud. I’m concerned that a loud noise will keep spooking her and she won’t use it.

  5. My horses have figured out the training paddle and I would like to remove it. What is the best way to remove the training paddle without braking it?


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