Disciplining Your Bun

Rabbits tend to do whatever they want and sometimes just won't listen (much like cats), so sometimes they need to be reminded how to behave! Keep in mind that there is no need to punish your rabbit, but help steer him in the right direction with discipline. Most of the time when a rabbit is being 'naughty', it's because he is doing what is natural to him. This is where training and discipline come in! 

Here are some tips for what you can do to discipline your rabbit: 

  • Voice Training. When your bun does something he shouldn't be, use his name and say 'NO', firmly and sternly. Make eye contact with your bun when you say this. Stay calm and raise your voice, but do not yell.

    • Example: Oliver the rabbit is digging at the carpet. You would say, "Oliver, NO." Oliver stops and stares at you. You give him a toy to play with instead of digging at the carpet (redirect his attention and train him to dig at something else instead).

    • Rabbits are smart and can understand several words; two of the words he should be able to understand are his name and the word 'No'.

  • Nose down. Take your index finger and firmly but gently push his nose down toward the floor while saying 'Oliver, NO'. This helps him to understand that you don't like his behavior, and you are 'dominating' him.

  • Time out. If your bunny won't listen to "{bunny name}, NO" after a couple times, you can shut him in a bathroom or closet for 10 minutes to show him your disapproval. Rabbits are very social, so separating them for a few minutes from everyone else helps them to understand that not listening to 'NO' could lead to being separated for a few minutes. Only do this directly after he has continued to commit the crime and failed to listen - he will not understand if you discipline him after he has already moved on to the next thing.

  • Water. Use a spray bottle on the mist setting only to spray your bun if he continues to do something he shouldn't.

    • Example: Oliver keeps going to one spot in the living room to leave a few turds. You see Oliver go to that spot and start to leave his 'marks'; you, ready with spray bottle, say, "Oliver, NO," while spraying him once with the spray bottle.

    • Only use the mist setting and try to avoid your rabbit's eyes or ears - the mist itself will be enough to discourage him. Only 1-2 sprays max will be needed.

  • Squeal. If your rabbit nips or bites you (sometimes rabbits nip when they want something or want your attention - it's not always aggressive): give a high-pitched squeal as soon as she nips or bites you. This will let her know that she hurt you and she should not nip or bite you.

Here is what NOT to do when disciplining your rabbit (remember, punishment is not necessary and will not work with a rabbit!):

  • Do not shout, scream or clap at your rabbit; this will make your rabbit frightened of you and could lead to to timid, anti-social or even aggressive behavior.

  • Do not hit or push your rabbit. Rabbits do not understand physical correction, and they are fragile creatures, you could seriously hurt your bunny if you hit or push him.

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The look of defiance.

Bonding Your Buns

Not all rabbits get along right away. But they are social creatures and are happier with a friend, so it's important to find the right buddy for your rabbit. 

Some pairings may take longer than others, but eventually your bunnies can have a harmonious, inseparable bond with one another for the rest of their lives. Typically a male/female bond is the easiest pairing, but male/male and female/female pairings can work as well.

Before They Bond:

  • Both rabbits should be spayed or neutered prior to introduction; introduction should wait for at least 2 weeks after the surgery to give their hormones some time to settle down. Unaltered rabbits tend to be aggressive with one another.

  • Choose a neutral territory that ‘belongs’ to neither rabbit - the space should be without either rabbit’s scent. Bathrooms are often a great space to introduce two buns; especially bathtubs since they are slippery and they won’t be able to move very fast. The space should also be quiet. You want to create the most peaceful environment you can that will help this to be a positive experience for both buns.

  • Have something on hand to help stop any fights that may occur. This may be gloves for your hands, a water mister, a broom or an item that will allow you to gently and safely separate the rabbits.

  • This may be a process, so prepare yourself to be patient as this could take several days in some cases.

Steps to take when introducing and bonding two rabbits: 

  1. Start by keeping their pens/spaces separate - a couple inches apart so that they can see each other. This is a good way for them to observe one another from a distance before meeting. Do this for the first couple days they are in the same house together

  2. Now it’s time to introduce your buns! Staying close to both rabbits the whole time, place them in front of each other (maybe even sitting in the bathtub with both of them), and allow them to sniff one another. If one rabbit grunts or lunges right away, gently move the aggressive rabbit away from the other bun and allow them to try again. Watch for aggressive behavior: biting, humping, circling, grunting, lunging, and correct by gently separating them (if done with your hands, make sure you wear gloves to protect against any accidental biting).

  3. Mounting: If a male mounts a female and she does not seem to mind or run away, chances are they will bond quickly. Even if she runs away, she will likely warm up to him. You can gently stop a rabbit from humping by gently pushing the ‘humper’ off the ‘humpee’ and pressing the humper’s nose gently toward the ground. You may have to do this a few times. If one rabbit runs away from the other, separate the chaser for a moment before trying the process again. It is common for the more dominant bun of the pair to mount the less dominant bun. You can let the dominant bun hump the submissive bun for a few seconds before gently pulling the ‘humper’ off, but only do this if the submissive bun doesn’t seem to mind the intrusion. Allowing a few seconds of dominance allows the dominant bun to understand that she can be dominant, and she won’t feel the need to mount as often. If the mounting upsets the more submissive bun, immediately and gently remove the dominant bun.

  4. Nipping may occur in the bonding process, and like humping, it’s not always necessarily always a negative thing. Just watch your buns closely for any aggressive behavior and separate them as needed. If there is biting and very aggressive behavior, remove the rabbits from each other immediately so that they don’t injure one another. You can always try again the next day.

  5. Continue this process for 20 minutes each time (less if they are aggressive), and repeat for several sessions over several days as needed. You can also try some of their sessions in a different space - such as the kitchen. Sometimes you can bond them in the situation that might be slightly stressful for them - like a car ride or vacuuming near their living spaces. You can also try switching them living spaces so that they can get used to each other’s scent.

    If you have had sessions without any aggression, you can start allowing the rabbits to share a common space when you are home, but separate them when you are gone. Once you see that there is consistently no aggressive behavior between both buns, they are ready to live together full time.

 Bonded Buns

Bonded Buns