Training your Rabbit

Bunnies aren’t the same as dogs, you can’t train them to make them sit, stay, play dead etc… But you can train them in other ways 🙂 Here are a few ways how to!

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1. How to toilet train a rabbit

This is the most basic training that comes in handy if you have a house rabbit. Rabbits are generally very clean animals and when they have found their toilet, they will most likely always do their business in that spot. However there are of course exceptions and no bunny is perfect!

First thing to do is to castrate your rabbit (whether male or female). If they are not castrated it’s a lot harder to litter train them as they want to mark their territory everywhere! On the couch, on the floor, on you, on the other bunny… the list goes on. Once they are castrated their hormones will calm down and they won’t want to mark everywhere.

If you have a baby bunny (you can first adopt a baby bunny when they are around 10 weeks old) then don’t expect them to always get to the toilet in time. You can encourage them to use the toilet by placing more toilets around the room, and when they wee on the floor/somewhere else pick them up and put them in the toilet. Clean where they wee’d with water and vinegar so they know that isn’t where they should be doing  their business! If your rabbit insists on weeing in a corner, then put the toilet there.

If your rabbit is trained to use the toilet, but likes to wee on you/on your bed anyway then it will be a bit tougher to train them to not do this. This is what my rabbit does, as rabbits like to wee on soft surfaces for some reason. If this happens shout “NO” (or I shout “NU UH” as she knows straight away she’s doing something wrong) and pick them up and put them in their toilet. My rabbit hates being picked up so she see’s it as a punishment. I also put her toilet on the bed so I can quickly put her in it if she makes a mess. It can take quite a while for them, but is definitely worth it as my bunny Amelie has gotten a lot better! (The same goes to rabbits who like to spray their wee even if they are castrated).

2. Training your rabbit to come to you as you call

This does depend on your rabbit’s personality, some rabbits hear you call and choose to ignore you whereas others run to you straight away! First you have to make sure your rabbit knows what his/her name is. You can do this by always saying their name to them (nice and easy right?) Amelie always comes when I call and generally follows me about (it is the cutest thing ever). To encourage them to come to you as you call their name have a treat ready, so every time they come to you they get a treat – this also doesn’t always have to be something edibile, a treat can be saying “Well done {insert rabbit’s name}!” and stroking them. This training is very easy and effective. Amelie always runs into her pen when I call as she knows she gets a treat (I always time it right so after she’s been out for a while she either gets her breakfast or vegetables). After a while you won’t have to always give them a treat, they’ll come when you call anyway (again depending on the personality of your rabbit, when Hector was alive he usually ignored me haha). Here’s a cute video of her coming to me as I’m sitting on the bed – excuse my bunny voice it’s so embarassing!

3. Training them not to eat the walls/furniture/skirting boards

Amelie loved to eat the walls and skirting boards! Luckily she doesn’t do this anymore. In able to train your bunny to stop doing this they need a lot of supervision. If they’re living free range and you aren’t with them all the time it probably wont work – once we got our pen for Amelie it’s been a lot easier to train her as she’s only allowed out under supervision. Here’s how it works:

As soon as you see them biting whatever they shouldn’t be biting, shout “NO” (or I say “NU UH”), go up to them and push them away from what they were biting. If they try to come back put your hand over the surface so they can’t bite it. Wait till they’ve walked away and go back to whatever you were doing. Repeat this every single time they do it and eventually they will know they aren’t allowed to do it. At some point when you say “NO” and get up to move them away they will already know whats coming and run away. Amelie always goes up to the wall, looks at me, and runs away again! The key is to never let them get away with it. I’ve heard there are also “bitter sprays” especially made for rabbits who like to bite furniture etc, it tastes bitter but is safe for the rabbit to lick. As it doesn’t taste nice they connect it with the furniture and won’t bite it anymore, (I’ve never tried it though!).

4. Clicker training for jumping

I’ve never tried this before, although I think Amelie would be great as she can jump very high! It’s like show jumping for horses.. but instead you have a rabbit. Everytime they jump over the obstacle you click your clicker and give them a treat – if they don’t jump over it and run around it instead then you don’t click and they get no treat. It’s a fun game for you and your bunny! Clicker training can also be used to  get your rabbits to do other “tricks”, although I’m not sure how effective that really is.

That’s all for now! Good luck with training your bunnies 🙂

Larissaingermany x

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Amelie is a Special Bunny

Hello!

Sorry I haven’t posted in almost two weeks – I haven’t forgotten I’ve just been way too busy with work, and last week I went on a spontaneous trip to France! But now I’m back so let me tell you my experience in keeping a “special bunny”, maybe someone else’s rabbit is similar?

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The reason I call Amelie a special bunny is because everyone else calls her it. The vet calls her “wild” and gets “back up” every time I enter the vet, my boyfriend thinks she’s mad and our bunny sitter says she’s only allowed to come back if she lives outside instead of inside (after she wee’d on all of her walls).

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Look behind the cute face and you see all the stains she left on all our walls

Amelie was always an adventurous bunny, I like to think of her as Indiana Jones – always wanting to dig deeper and jump higher. When she grew up her hormones kicked in, and she began to spray her urine everywhere.. making it only worse when I tried to clean it up as then she would spray it on me! After she was spayed this stopped happening… until we took her to a bunny sitter for a week in which she decided to wee everywhere (the funny thing I found was as soon as she was home again she stopped doing it). She also likes to eat everything, not just food but also the walls and the skirting boards, she’s even managed to eat the wall right down to the insulation. She jumps so high she can reach the window sill, meaning we can never fully open the window as she could fall out. Today was the first time she’s ever bitten anyone, and the poor victim was my Mum! What’s more baffling is that we got her when she was a baby, so nothing bad could have happened in her life that could make her so nervous and “special”.

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On the windowsill

She’s also a very vocal bunny. She stamps when she’s scared/doesn’t like someone, grunts when she is ahem, horny, squeaks when she’s scared (this happened during the rebonding session between her and Hector) and also wags her tail when she gets annoyed.

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Despite all of the above, I love her to bits and I don’t find her that wild or mad. When I’m the only one with her she’s the cutest, funniest bunny ever, who’s learned to trust me. Although she doesn’t like being picked up, she hops onto my lap for a cuddle, or if I’m on my knees cleaning she’ll climb up onto my back. When I call her name she runs to me and pokes her face in mine to say hello, and if I throw her straw ball she runs after it like a little dog. So this is a post for anyone who might have a “special” bunny like mine. I’ve learnt to understand Amelie isn’t so special, she just finds it hard to trust other people and gets very nervous around new faces, and that’s just who she is.

I also bought her a cat toilet to use as a dig box, so now she spends all day happily digging away and I’m happy it isn’t on the walls or the floor.IMG-20150413-WA0002

Even if Amelie is sometimes hard work I wouldn’t give her away for the world. Does anyone else have rabbits with interesting habits or personalities?

Larissaingermany x

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Hector inspecting the new dig box

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So you’re thinking of getting bunnies

Hello,

If you’re thinking about getting bunnies, then this is the post for you! If not then you can just sit back and enjoy the cute photos 🙂

Amelie and Hector are brother and sister, and when we got them they were around 10 weeks old.

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Rabbits are adorable and if you spend time with them everyday they will grow to love you. But they aren’t “starter pets” like some people say. You can’t just pop them in a cage and only “play” with them when you feel like it. They are as much work as having a dog or cat.

So lets start with what you would need to have bunnies:

  • A large indoor/outdoor space (not just a cage). Rabbits need at least 4 hours a day to hop, jump and binky around. Those little hutches that they still sell in pet shops were originally made just to keep rabbits housed so later they would be eaten – why they still sell them now I have no idea as bunnies need space to exercise, just like any other animal. It’s also nowadays advised to keep your bunny inside, as the danger of foxes and other animals outside can kill a rabbit – even if it doesn’t physically get to your rabbit, your rabbit can have a heart attack from the stress.
  • Time. Although having a bunny is a bit easier than having a dog as they can be left alone when you’re at work (they are also nocturnal and sleep during the day), you still need time to interact with your rabbits and keep them company!
  • Money. Some people assume because rabbits are smaller it means they aren’t too expensive to keep but it really does depend, I’ll get to this in a minute.
  • Love. You need to love your rabbits! Obviously.. otherwise you wouldn’t be thinking of getting any.
  • A bunny proofed room (if they live inside).

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And now let’s add up the costs of having a bunny. This depends on what age your rabbit is that you adopt, we got our baby bunnies from a woman living outside of Munich in the countryside, her bunny had babies and for some reason no one wanted the little buns! If you adopt rabbits that are older and have already been spayed/neutered, you’re saving yourself a lot of work and money. Here is what I spend for my bunnies:

  • Operation for Hector to be neutered: 80 euros
  • Operation for Amelie to be spayed: 120 euros (it’s a more complicated operation for female rabbits, hence why it’s more expensive)
  • A cage: 30 euros (we got ours second hand so prices vary. Now that our room is bunny proofed the cage is always open, unless we want to give the room a spring clean then we pop them in a different room in the cage)
  • Water bottles, toilets, hay rack: Around 40 euros
  • Vaccinations: I can’t completely remember how much this was! But around 40 euros for both of them
  • Rabbit toys – straw balls, sticks, hay house, tunnels: Around 25 euros
  • TOTAL: 335 euros

And now for food:

  • Hay per week: 4.50 euros
  • Dry food per month: 7 euros
  • Fresh veggies per month: 8 euros
  • TOTAL PER MONTH: 32 euros

There can be other unexpected costs, for example when Amelie and Hector had a fight Amelie injured her eye – luckily the vet costs were only around 25 euros but you always need to be prepared for any additional costs in case they get ill etc!

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Other things to think about is that usually a bunny eats EVERYTHING. Cables, furniture, skirting boards, walls…. But I’ll put a bunny proofing in the next post. What some people don’t know is that rabbits are actually very clean animals. They will naturally pick out a corner to do their business in, you can place the toilet there and when they’re used it they should do their business wherever you put the toilet!

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When Hector was a baby his ear permanently stuck up for a good 3 weeks. It was so adorable!!

You might have noticed that I keep referring to getting rabbits as plural, this is because rabbits usually live in groups in the wild and they are most happy when they have a little bun buddy living with them. Even if you spend a lot of time with them there’s still those 8 hours you sleep at night and 8 hours in the day when you’re at work where your little bun is alone! A lot of rabbit holiday homes here in Germany refuse to look after your rabbit if they aren’t in a pair, as they say it’s cruel. So have a think about getting two – having an extra one doesn’t take up more space and if they’re already spayed/neutered then the cost is low anyway.

Speak with your local animal home about adopting a pair – rabbits are also very complicated when it comes to picking out a partner for life, it isn’t as simple as putting them both in a room and expecting them to get on like a house on fire. I’ll be writing an extra post about bonding and rebonding rabbits!

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Amelie, I love this photo as it shows her personality, she’s always curious and wants to know what’s going on.

I think I covered all the basics here. So in a summary they are amazing pets with amazing individual personalites. Just don’t forget because they’re small and can’t bark or miaow that they aren’t any less important!

If you have any other questions then drop me a comment below, I’d love to hear from you 🙂

Larissaingermany x

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Everybunny Wants Somebunny

Hi there!

Welcome to my first post on the bunny side of my blog. Let me introduce my two buns Amelie and Hector:

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They are dwarf bunnies, brother and sister and are both spayed/castrated living free range in our bunny room (soon to be guest room too!). Hector (dark brown bun on the right) is very calm and sensible, he doesn’t get into much trouble and tends to do his own thing most of the time. Amelie on the other hand, is the complete opposite. She’s a nervous little bun when she’s with other people or in a new place, but at home she’s so adventurous and naughty! She’s also a very vocal bunny (yes bunnies can make noises), she squeaks and grunts and when she gets annoyed at Hector she wags her tail.

I love my buns to bits but to tell you the truth – we had a lot of problems. They are now 9 months old and although we’ve been through our rough patches they’re doing really well and we’re all happy! I’m going to be sharing all the problems and obstacles we’ve had over the past few months here (and of course the cute bits too) so if you’re having problems with your bunnies, or you’re thinking about getting some buns then stay tuned, whether it’s bonding/rebonding, litter training, how to bunny proof your home or what to do post operation (castration) – I’ll be writing about it!

Watch this space 🙂

Larissaingermany x20150408_164536