10 Ways to Bond With Your Rabbit
Rabbits that bond with their owners live longer, happier lives. Learning how to build a bond with your bunnies helps you enjoy their company even more, and forges a friendship that’ll span their entire lives. Since rabbits are prey animals, they have an innate nervous nature – and as a result, don’t give their trust as easily as dogs or cats may. But, with some patience, you and your rabbits will be able to understand each other better, deepening the bond between you. Whether you’re a first-time rabbit owner or a seasoned bunny keeper, here are 10 ways to bond with your rabbits.
1. Learn their personalities
Like humans, rabbits have their own distinct personalities and characteristics that set them apart from each other. Some rabbits are very shy when they’re first brought home, while others are outgoing and social from the start. Learning to read your rabbits’ body language is the first step in figuring out their unique personalities. Rabbits make different sounds and change their posture to reflect how they’re feeling. You may also find that you have two rabbits with completely different personalities toward humans – but having an outgoing rabbit can be helpful in gaining the trust of a more timid bunny.
2. Create a shared space
It’s natural for your rabbits to feel nervous or even defensive if you interact with them by reaching into their hutch – after all, this space is their home, and all of their instincts tell them to protect it from potential predators. If you want to spend time bonding with your rabbits, try setting up a play area or run large enough for you to sit inside with your pets. This way, you can start interacting with them on neutral ground. Rabbits feel comfortable when they have something over their heads, so don’t feel bad if the first few times they hide under any covered area you have set up.
While all bunnies should have a comfortable rabbit hutch, your first few interactions shouldn’t be inside of it. Rabbits seek shelter in the form of burrows or dens, which is how they see their hutch. Reaching into the hutch to pick up or pet your new rabbits can startle them, and can eventually create unease inside their safe space.
Instead of infiltrating their hutch, create a shared space in the form of a rabbit playpen. This will enable you to sit inside of an open area to let your rabbits come to you. Don’t be discouraged if your bunnies dart to the nearest cover during your first few attempts to pet them – this is their natural instinct shining through.
3. Offer healthy treats
While sitting in your shared space, offer your rabbits healthy treats by hand. There are plenty of fresh foods that you can feed your rabbits that will go a long way in winning their trust. Leafy greens in particular are both nutritious and easy to offer by hand – their length can be adjusted, gradually luring your rabbits toward you.
Once your rabbits are taking treats by hand, slowly encourage them to hop onto your extended legs or lap. While sitting on the ground, place the treats on your leg or hold them just over your lap. Before long, your bunnies will be bounding into your lap for food and attention.
4. Fill the playpen with toys
Placing more than just yourself inside of the shared space with your bunnies will help them adjust even faster to your presence. Bunnies love burrows, hideaways, and differing heights to gain a new vantage point. Adding Zippi Rabbit Tunnels, Zippi Rabbit Platforms, or Zippi Rabbit Shelters and Play Tunnels are all great accessories to help your bunnies feel more at ease and encourage play. It’s a good sign when your rabbits play while you’re in a shared space – it means they trust you enough to venture out of safety and exhibit their natural behaviours.
5. Give your rabbit new experiences
Rabbits are creatures of habit, but it’s good to change things up from time to time. New foods, toys, or run accessories are fresh and fun ways to break up monotony. And, over time, your rabbits will learn to associate you with these fun additions or changes to their routines. Try rearranging their run, re-routing or adding onto their Zippi Tunnel System, or offering homemade toys like empty paper towel rolls to brighten your bunnies’ day.
6. Petting your rabbit
Once your rabbits are comfortable sharing a space and taking treats from you, it’s time to introduce petting. Physical contact builds a stronger bond between you and your bunnies, but they may not take to it at first. The first time you stroke your rabbits, they may become startled and dart for cover. This too is a natural behavior– one that can be minimized over time. It can take several weeks to be able to pet your rabbits without this reaction.
The best way to introduce petting to your rabbits is to hold your hand low, just to the side of their heads. This way, they’ll be able to see exactly who and what is coming toward them. If you come straight from above their heads and backs, they can’t see what’s coming and will react just like their cousins in the wild running from a bird of prey or other predator. Also, avoid approaching your rabbit directly in front of their heads – they have a “blind spot” due to the location of their eyes, and are unable to see things coming toward their foreheads.
7. Teach your rabbits tricks
After your rabbits have adjusted to being petted, you can start incorporating some intellectual stimulation. Teaching your rabbits tricks will build their confidence, your bond with them, and foster their natural curiosity and behaviours. Start with simple tricks that come naturally to them, like walking through a tunnel or up a ramp with a treat waiting for them at the end. You can slowly build up to more advanced tricks like spinning in a cycle or rolling over. Rabbits can even be taught to play fetch like a dog.
8. Copying your rabbit
This method may seem unusual, but the goal is to behave in ways that your bunnies would expect from others of their own species. This could be you pretending to clean your “paws”, or leaning over to pretend to nibble at some of their food. Make sure you have your rabbits’ rapt attention, otherwise, you’ll be playing bunny charades by yourself. This method is particularly fun for children, especially those who aren’t old enough to have an abundance of patience to wait for their bunnies to come to them.
9. Choose the right time to play with your rabbit
As you observe your rabbits, you’ll see a pattern in their daily routine. There will be times of the day when they’re most active, when they prefer to nap, and when they seek out food or water. Learning their routine will help you determine the best time to play and socialize with them. Choose a time of day when they are most active – this will be the time when rabbits will be most receptive to play and training endeavours.
10. Learning to hold your rabbit safely
The last step in bonding with your rabbits is holding them. It may be tempting to push this step toward the top of the list, but it’s important not to rush them. Being held is the ultimate submission to humans – the truest expression of trust for a rabbit.
Always hold your rabbits in a way that’s most comfortable for them. This may be in a football hold, with your rabbit’s head tucked under your arm, or supported snugly against your body. Some rabbits even prefer being held on their backs – similar to how we hold human babies. Always be sure to support their hindquarters to help them feel secure.
Omlet and your rabbits
Rabbits are gentle animals, and need gentleness in return. Being respectful of your rabbits’ space, personalities, and insecurities will help them see you as a friend instead of a foe. Starting them out in an Eglu Go Rabbit Hutch will begin building the bond between you and your bunnies with confidence and security. And, when you add a Zippi Rabbit Playpen, you’ll be able to cultivate a lasting relationship in a shared space that you can customize and tailor to your rabbits’ needs throughout your lasting relationship.
This entry was posted in Pets