It is important to remember that rabbits are sensitive animals that can easily feel vulnerable. While firmness might be advised in some respects, they are not dogs and do not need to be traumatized by shouting and angry behavior. If you cause them real terror, they will always be affected by the memory and are likely to never trust you.
Discipline for a rabbit, therefore, does not depend on shouting or punishment, but on actions that can be interpreted as dominant. The aim is to redirect poor behavior without causing your pet distress. They will judge if they have done something wrong during play if immediately put back in solitary, for example. Some owners also use spray bottles for small instances of misbehavior, like a bite.
A number of further approaches are open to rabbit owners to discourage poor behavior, so consider the instructions that follow in order to teach your pet well while maintaining a healthy bond.
Relate Your Dominance
One physical action that makes for a good tip is to place a very small portion of pressure on your rabbit’s back if they do something that displeases you. Don’t do so much that they feel discomfort, but just place your hand there to remind them of your position of strength. Avoid persisting though if they show any distress.
Rabbits do not enjoy the idea that their movements might be hindered. So, if they become overly annoyed or even vicious when you don’t give them extra treats or have stopped playing with them, then this technique can put a stop to such an attitude.
Adopt a Voice of Authority
Rabbits are very perceptive and bright. Indeed, many people are not aware that a rabbit can pick up some simple commands just like a dog. Training them in this manner is not easy though, taking time and effort, but can be well worth it. Employ treats to help them get to grips with what you want of them, but don’t overdo it otherwise they won’t realize you’re the dominant partner and will run amuck.
Simple instructions, like ‘no,’ can be picked up on quickly, but resist sounding too angry when voicing such words. Once underway, you might be able to move on to more complex instructions, such as ‘don’t do that,’ and ‘come here,’ as well as telling them when they need to jump off your lap.
Getting rid of any bad habits can take a bit of work. Nevertheless, once they start getting used to some commands, your pet will begin to understand what you want and don’t want them to do. Using treats enables them to understand if any actions are unacceptable, as well as reminding them that you’re in charge.
Purchase a Bottle of Spray
Cat owners will be familiar with the use of water as a deterrent and your rabbit is actually quite similar. Don’t be too dependent on spray or use it to stop them chewing, but if they have a bad behavior then a hint of spray with a dominant ‘No’ can change their habits.
Try it a couple of times if necessary and they should get the message.
Despite this approach being useful, avoid direct spray in the face and on their backs. Too much water might also lead to their behavior worsening if you cause them to feel irritated, so have a timeout instead if there is no obvious breakthrough.
This is perhaps the best and most useful form of teaching. It acts as a punishment without having any kind of aggression involved. Remember that rabbits are social animals, so they will be disappointed if their actions cause you to disappear.
The same approach often works with children of toddler age. If possible, choose a part of the home where they can remain in solitude but without the homely comforts of their cage. Just a short spell without company or bedding will likely change their need to behave poorly.
Avoid overdoing it with lengthy periods in solitary. Even short periods of time can drag when your rabbit becomes bored, so they will quickly become pleased to see you again.
Squeal if They Have a Biting Habit
Most rabbits do not bite, but that does not mean they can’t, or that yours won’t. Plus, even the gentlest rabbit may think of giving your hand a bit of a nibble as a sign that they like you. Also, however, be conscious that a bite might occur if you’ve missed something they’re used to, or they’re feeling hungry for either food or attention.
It will be clear whether your rabbit bites out of anger or not. If you’re keen to make them stop, a loud enough squeal, but not so loud to cause alarm, should do the trick.
A rabbit that is biting out of affection will respond to the potential of causing harm and decide not to do so again. Subtle communication like this can be so useful.
Clapping might be pleasant to human ears, but rabbits will consider such sharp and sudden loud noises alarming. If you clap to get them to stop something, therefore, they will not get the message because they will only be focused on their own distress. Even worse, as a prey animal, a sudden shock can even prove fatal for rabbits.
Gentle and calm behaviors are best for bonding with a pet rabbit. Rely on different methods to clapping as these will prove successful and not have negative effects.
Do not Hit in Any Way or Employ Physical Force
Striking a rabbit brings no benefit to either of you. Remember, they are not dogs and will likely become traumatized and never trust you again. Some rabbits can hide for days if they get scared.
Every rabbit is different and has its own character, which taking a physical approach will bring no gain. Likewise, picking them up after they have been naughty is going too far. You need to take a subtler approach that they can learn from without becoming scared.
You should also hold back from punishing them for a habit they can’t help but have: chewing. A rabbit needs to chew, so make sure it has enough hay and its own toy. This is the best way to stop it nibbling on your furniture, as opposed to shouting at them or striking them.
Certain Behaviors Should Be Accepted
Rather than looking to change your bunnies’ character, favor refocusing their attention, such as onto a chew toy. All rabbits will have their own habits and preferences, so it’s just a matter of finding what suits them.
Your rabbit may choose to dominate a toy, for example, and also use it to nibble on rather than seeking something you don’t wish to see damaged.
Even small nibbles on your skin should be tolerated, as they are not really causing you harm and only trying to tell you something. There is no need to be so particular if a certain behavior is not really an issue. Choose a smarter approach and remove anything precious from their reach.
Methods for Refocusing Habits
As rabbits appreciate having certain items that are ideal for chewing on, support them in having plenty of options, as well as a great deal of activity in their lives, which will reduce any bad habits they indulge in.
It might not be possible to change their habits completely, but they can be significantly reduced so they do not cause an excessive problem. Allowing them to continue with chewing habits to some extent is better than removing all opportunities completely, as this will stress them.
A blend of activities, interactions, and toys to use can draw their attention and even reshape habits. Most decent pet shops will have some fun options, such as balls to play with or slopes to run up and down.
If a rabbit enjoys a certain activity, then it is best to encourage, otherwise restricting their access can lead to aggression. Try to be patient and understanding as you get to know your new resident.