Rabbits are wonderful pets, but getting them used to being treated regularly can take time and patience. Your children may be desperate to play with their new friend, but if you speed up this process, your rabbit may feel browbeat.
Many domestic rabbits can show signs of anxiety when raised. About 60% of rabbit owners say that their rabbit actions and can even become aggressive when trying to pick it up. So what can we do to improve the bond between us and our rabbits?
The good news is that there are many possibilities! We’ve rounded up our favorite, scientifically based ways to connect with your rabbit.
We have also included details about a technique that should always be avoided.
1. Give Treats To Your Rabbit
The scientific term for this is “classic conditioning”, but really, all you do is get your rabbit to associate you with good things — namely tasty treats! This is one of the first steps in bonding with your rabbit, so do not try to pick it up until you have nailed it.
All you have to do is spend some time quietly with your rabbit — with you in your cage, if it’s easier. When they approach you, give them a small reward. You can experiment with different treats and find out which one your rabbit likes best. Of course, if your rabbit connects you with your family with treats, you will be more familiar with them. After a while, you can slowly decrease the number of treats you give them, but do not stop at the treats!
2. Be the present and the Patient
If you put pressure on your rabbit to spend time with you, it will probably cause the opposite reaction. Instead, set time aside to simply hang out with your rabbit. Do not go inside and expect to pick them up or achieve something specific. Just sit in a closed, rabbit-proof space and let your rabbit explore. They are curious creatures, so they will soon bounce on them to investigate! Drop a few treats on the floor to reinforce the fact that it’s a good thing to be near you!
3. Stay calm and quiet
Rabbits are by nature quick to scare. Loud noises and irregular movements can worry you. Remember to soften your tone and avoid sudden movements when going out with your rabbit.
If your children also handle your rabbit, make sure you know the basic rules of behavior. A rabbit cornered by an overly enthusiastic and inexperienced Junior manager may panic or become aggressive if he feels trapped.
4. Don’t hold your rabbit (all the time)
We know it can be tempting to pick up your rabbit and cuddle it well, but in fact, many rabbits do not like to be kept at first! However, there are many other ways to interact with your rabbit. You can caress them, cuddle them while you sit next to them, or lie on the floor and look at them from a different angle.
We do not suggest never holding or picking up your rabbit, but take the time to accustom your rabbit to being kept and hang out with them in another way while you work to accustom it to being picked up.
When picking up your rabbit, be sure to hold it properly using one of the following methods:
5. Clicker-train your rabbit
Did you know you can train your rabbit clicker? Giving your rabbit the choice to be picked up can solve some of the problems rabbit owners face when trying to deal with their fluffy friends.
You will need a clicker or know how to make a ” poo ” with your tongue to tell your rabbit that it is performing the right behavior.
Hold your hands and click when your rabbit between you is the first step. When your rabbit is on the floor and in your hands, click and reward it with a treat.
The next step is to apply a little gentle pressure to the sides of your rabbit with your hands, but you can stay on the floor where you feel safe. Tap, click and reward.
Once your rabbit is familiar with this Phase, you can lift your rabbit a little off the ground for a short time. Don’t forget to click and reward.
Some rabbits can also be trained to jump on their knees. Clicker training gives your rabbit a choice, and it’s good if you decide you don’t want to be picked up at that time, you can try again after!
You can watch a video of this training sequence here.
6. Be consistent
Behavior like with many other pets and humans helps your rabbit to feel more comfortable and safe in your business. If you only treat your rabbit once a week and expect it to be happy to be picked up, then you might be disappointed that your rabbit has other ideas!
Try spending time with your rabbit every day, whether it’s a quick brush and stroke or a longer session in which you’ll get used to being picked up. The more familiar you are with your rabbit, the happier and more confident you will be around her.
Rabbits thrive on Routine, so following the same feeding and cleaning plan can help them feel safer, making them safer when handling them.
7. Refer to Your Rabbit’s Personality outside
If you take the time to work out your rabbit’s personality, you can choose the best way to treat them. Some rabbits quickly become sociable and sassy, while others can be shy and nervous. Some will even be afraid and can be aggressive.
Once you’ve established the basics of your rabbit’s personality, you can tailor your interactions to it. A confident and open-minded rabbit can quickly learn to be picked up, while a shy rabbit can take longer to get acquainted with this, and even then they prefer to be petted while being safe on the floor!
8. Play with Your Rabbit
Rabbits are sociable and most of them like to play! Invest in chew toys for your rabbit and spend time hanging out with them while discovering these delicious treats. An additional advantage is that toys that require gnawing also help keep your rabbit’s teeth in good condition.
Treat dispenser balls are also great fun for your rabbit to play, and you can have fun seeing how quickly you discover how to access the treats inside!
9. Let your Rabbit from castration or castration
As rabbits mature, they can become aggressive and more difficult to handle. At this point, scheduling an appointment for castration or castration of your rabbit can solve many of these problems.
10. Give Your Rabbit Room
One of the best ways to connect with your rabbit is to give them the space to be a rabbit! Rabbits, which are kept in small pens without much enrichment, are bored and stressed. It is important to ensure that your rabbit has a large stable and an outdoor enclosure that you can enjoy if possible.
Keep your rabbit’s stable as a “safe space” that belongs to you and only you. Leave your rabbit out of your stable for exercise, training and bonding sessions. You can have a Ramp that will allow you to run in your stable, and if you do, consider this a clear Signal that your session is over!