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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Housing your bunny

Wondering what the best way is to house your rabbit? In this post I’ll be showing you how my bunny Amelie lives, and how her and Hector lived before!

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Rabbits need to have at least 4 hours exercise everyday, which means keeping them in those small cages or hutches that they usually sell in animal shops is wrong. I’ve already mentioned this before in my other post which you can find here. When we got our bunnies we bought a rabbit cage (that was big enough for them) where they stayed when I was asleep or not at home; as soon as I was at home the cage doors were always open.

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A cage has to be:

  • High enough for your bunny to stand on it’s hind legs.
  • Long enough for your bunny to do at least 4 hops.
  • And of course big enough so your bunny can fully lie down.

Types of cages/housing:

  • Rabbit cage (it must be big enough for your rabbits)
  • Puppy pen (if it has no roof make sure it’s high enough – rabbits can jump very high!)
  • Free range (no cage at all, just make sure your room is bunny proofed)
  • Rabbit pen for outside (the wooden ones are very stabile for indoors as well and usually have a roof)

Various flooring/bedding:

  • Straw (might stain your rabbit’s paws yellow. When my rabbits were babies they also thought this was their toilet too – resulting in them weeing everywhere in the cage. As soon as I changed the flooring to a blanket they only urinated in the toilet!)
  • Towels/blankets (great as you can rewash these – just watch out your rabbit doesn’t eat a lot of it)
  • Newspaper (only recommended underneath something, as it stains your rabbits paws and if they eat it too much the ink can be harmful)

What to use for litter in the toilet:

  • Wood pellet litter (this is what I use and love – smells woody and as it’s pellets it doesn’t get thrown everywhere when Amelie jumps out of the toilet.)
  • Shredded newspaper (not such a great idea, especially if your rabbit eats it! Not very absorbent and smells bad quickly)
  • Wood shavings/saw dust (I started off with this but it smells bad quickly and as it’s so light the shavings fly everywhere – very messy!)
  • Do NOT use cat litter as if your rabbit eats this it will clump in their stomach and they die 😦

How to furnish your Bun’s house:

  • Bunnies love to have a “safe place” where they can hide – you can make them a cardboard house, cover a chair with a blanket so they can sit underneath it or buy a wooden house which they can lie in.
  • The toilet (make sure it’s big enough and that the walls are high enough – otherwise they could miss and urinate next to it.)
  • Water – a bowl or bottle (Amelie loves to throw bowls around so we give her a bottle)
  • Hay (in the toilet or a hay rack next to the toilet – this encourages your rabbit to do their business in the toilet!)
  • A dig box (I put hay in a cat toilet which is perfect as Amelie digs the whole night away in her dig box! No hay comes out as it’s covered and she has all the fun she wants. Perfect for rabbits who love digging)
  • Toys – rotate your rabbits toys everyday/every few days to keep them stimulated. A few are: sticks, straw balls (ones that have bells in are great) and tunnels.

My buns fell out with each other for a few months, but once they were rebonded they lived free range in the room. This is possibly the best option for your rabbits if the room is bunny proofed. There was nothing dangerous for our rabbits, however they nibbled on my boyfriend’s jumper and bit all the walls and skirting boards. Since Hector died Amelie has taken her anger out on the walls, biting them more than ever. To protect the walls and Amelie we’ve bought her a rabbit pen that’s actually for outside – but is perfect for indoors too!

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It’s 150 x 150cm and Amelie is allowed to come out under supervision, although she’s more than content in her pen. It has a roof which is also good as Amelie is a ninja when it comes to jumping, and you can open it to clean the cage. I have to say although this does take up a lot of space it’s the most reassuring type of housing for me. I know she’s safe in her pen and at the same time she has enough space to move around and binky!

I found my pen here and there are lots of similar ones on ebay!

I hope I covered everything but if you have any questions then leave me a comment below 🙂

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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