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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