The essential key to a successful relationship with a pet rabbit is establishing a foundation of trust. If you put in the time and effort, you will most likely find yourself with an affectionate furry bundle of joy in time. The earlier you begin building trust, the better. Some rabbits appear very shy, others bold and curious, but it is the nature of the rabbit to be cautious and careful especially at first. In the beginning your rabbit might see you as a potential predator. In the wild, they are an animal that is easily preyed upon so by natural instincts they are wary and cautious to survive. They are at the bottom of the food chain. In order to understand your rabbit for who they are, forget all your expectations and focus on him as an individual. Be open to learning about rabbits and let your rabbit teach you what all about them.
The Keys to Success.
Tone of Voice
As parent's and rabbit owners we find that a rabbit is a lot like children. The tone of voice you use and your disposition play a very large part in forming a healthy strong relationship with your pet. The way you talk to your rabbit is effective for getting him to trust you. Always talk using a tone of voice that is serene and controlled. Not not too loud, harsh or stern. When you engage in interaction with your rabbit, avoid doing anything abruptly or quickly. Quickness can be extremely jarring and shocking to delicate rabbits. The key to success is to have a level even calm disposition and surroundings.
When establishing your relationship make sure to set boundaries. Make a restricted area that you and your rabbit can set and hop around in. Using a pet or baby gate pen in highly recommend. One like the one that we have our rabbits in. Giving your rabbit freedom before you have a foundation of trust will only make your rabbit more independent and not pet friendly. This is a process that we have done with each of our bunnies, that is why we are able to handle them the way you see us do. No worries, it takes time and practice it does not happen over night, believe us with years of experience we still have our moments of struggles. Whether you're getting your bunny used to your smell or simply talking to him, keep the atmosphere laid-back and low-traffic. Turn the television off. Close the door. Make sure no other pets are around to bother your interplay. The best way is to sit on the ground and allow them to explore you and their surroundings, and remember with boundaries! A isolated situation!
Increased Physical Contact
As you progress in building trust with your rabbit, start to build a deeper bond by softly stroking his forehead. This usually feels good to bunnies, and as a result is a strong starting point in petting. Once you sense your bunny loosening up to the whole notion of touch, begin petting his back and holding him in a relaxed and low-key way.Bunnies are very hyper-sensitive and can feel your anxiety, fear or joy. You can even try giving him an "Eskimo kiss" by pressing your nose lightly up against his. Remember, bunnies are often more fearful or hands than other body parts, such as faces.
Treat your rabbit the way you would want to be treated. Be considerate of their feelings and needs. Never, ever run after your rabbit or chance it, no matter what! As natural prey creatures, all that does is terrify them. Also never be forceful with your bunny. Let him do things at its own comfy pace. If he squirms wildly when you try to pick him up cover his eyes, then place him down back feet first.
Tips to win over a shy rabbit:
Gaining the trust of a shy rabbit will take time, but it will be very rewarding to see his personality emerge. Gaining the respect of a “difficult rabbit” will not be easy, but if you take the time to understand rabbit behavior, you should find yourself at a point of mutual respect while having a greater understanding of this precious and complex animal.
- Sit quietly on the floor in a small room or in a closed play pen or gate. Do not reach out to pet or pick your rabbit up, just sit and get to know your rabbit. Communication with your rabbit at their level is essential. sit on the floor, when talking or engaging with your rabbit. Get to know your rabbit where they fill most comfortable, on the floor. Get on their level! A slice of an apple or banana may help him approach you. See if he will eat it from your hand without running away. - Allow your rabbit to investigate you. Most likely they will smell you, hop over your leg or nibble your pant leg, but don’t disturb it's investigation and time of exploring you. Let the rabbit get comfortable just being around you, before you try to fully engage in interaction. Be patient and you will be rewarded with a true companion that adds a special piece of life and energy to your household. - After quietly bonding, see if your rabbit will allow you to pet it on the top of his head, or lie down on the floor and approach him face to face. Now remember rabbits just like horses can not see directly in front of them. CAUTION: If your rabbit is protective of his or her space, this could result in a serious bite to the face, so decide which approach would be better for the both of you. - You can also try bringing in a magazine or newspaper into the area your have closed off and start to read it. When you are done place the paper on the ground and wait to see the rabbit approach it and you will be amazed that they will start to rip it up. Let them play with it just like a rabbit would, by tearing it up. - Toys and more toys. Toys can build confidence and help displace anxiety. Observe what your rabbit likes to do. There is a varied on toys you can make or buy and stores. It's as easy as a toilet paper roll stuffed with hay, or a piece of wood, baby toys make great chew toys as well. - Increase the freedom and space as your rabbit becomes more secure with you. With time, you will start to see a braver bunny. The first time your rabbit nudges you or grooms you, the process of trust has begun and a special honor has been bestowed upon you. He is communicating with you as he would communicate with a fellow rabbit. This is just the beginning of a bond that grows stronger with time. Value and treasure these moments, not everyone is lucky enough to experience the love and trust of a rabbit.
I hope you’ll consider the information we have listed above and try to look at your rabbit with open eyes. Rabbits are not a toy, they are a highly intelligent, potentially loving, loyal creature who can become a member of the family. That is if you allow your rabbit to be what it was born to be.......a rabbit! If you can do this, you are headed for the most delightful companionship you can imagine!