Bunny Blog

Category Archives: Rabbit Training

Featured Rabbit Organization: Minnesota Companion Rabbit Society

The Minnesota Companion Rabbit Society (MCRS) is a volunteer-based, non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of companion rabbits.

MCRS works to let people know that domestic rabbits can and do make wonderful companions, as long as you are willing to meet them on their terms. They teach Bunny Basics classes, maintain a phone and email hotline so that people can contact them with questions or problems, and generally try to keep rabbits and their human companions living happily together.

Rabbit looking out window.

Meet Amber, one of the available rabbits at the Minnesota Companion Rabbit Society.

The organization also hosts regular Hoppy Hour events, in which bunnies can come to romp and play with other bunnies. These socialization events are held at three locations around the Twin Cities. All rabbits must be spay/neutered and be in good health in order to participate.

Learn more about the Minnesota Companion Rabbit Society at their website.

Make Your Own Logic Toys for Your Rabbit

We recently published a new article called Logic Toys for Rabbits.  The article was written by Christina Chivers of the online store, Bunny Approved.

Rabbit doing logic toy

The article discusses the types of toys that challenge your rabbit’s mind and provide much-needed enrichment. Chivers also provides instructions on creating your own logic toys.  It includes photos and a video of her rabbit, Bunny, engaging in these toys. (We also included a photo of Cosette playing with one we made using her instructions.)

Of course, if you don’t feel like making the toys yourself, you can purchase them from Bunny Approved.

Learn more at: Logic Toys for Rabbits

New Rabbit Books

There have been quite a few books featuring rabbits recently published, from fictional works to how-to guides.  Check them out:

timetravelTime Travel Rabbit

Momi Douglas takes readers on a fantastic adventure following an elderly professor and his pet rabbit as they travel around the world and between dimensions. The book is endorsed by the founder of PETA and was inspired by the author’s own Dutch rabbit named Pebbles.

Order the book at Amazon.

sweetiesSweetie’s Song: A Love Story

In this tale for readers of all ages, we follow Fred and Sarah Davis, a grieving couple living in Texas. Their lives get turned upside down when they realize the three toy rabbits they recently acquired are more than just inanimate objects. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund – a 4-Star charity that serves United States military personnel wounded or injured in service to our nation, and their families.

Order the book at Amazon.

highfiveHigh Five with Your Rabbit

Dutch animal trainer Bernice Muntz shows you how to train and play with your rabbit. Watch the video below demonstrating the potential rabbits have as trainable animals.

Order the e-book here.
 

Litter Training: Rabbit Adoptathon Week

Coco in the litterbox eating hayToday’s theme for Rabbit Adoptathon week will be about litter training. We get a lot of emails from people who are frustrated by stubborn, “outside-the-box” bunnies. Here are our best tips:

  • Rabbits tend to poop while they eat hay. So it is always a good idea to place ample amounts of hay either in the litterbox or in a hayfeeder right next to the litterbox (so the bunny is forced to sit in the litterbox if he wants to munch on hay).
  • Mop up urine with a paper towel and pick up stray poop and place both in the litterbox. This helps get the message across that the litterbox is the place that they should do their business.
  • Be patient and persistent. Litter training takes time, especially if your rabbit has learned bad habits. It takes a while to retrain them. If you can see they’re about to go to the bathroom outside their litterbox (they may lift their tail or sometimes they sort of shimmy down in a seated position right before they go), try to pick them up and put them in the litterbox or corral them in. This is oftentimes easier said than done of course.
  • Limit their space. If your bunny is free reign, you may want to limit their space initially using a puppy pen until your rabbit is consistently practicing good litterbox habits. Then, very gradually increase the space, ensure those good habits remain intact. Eventually, you will be able to take away the puppy pen completely.
  • If your bunny is insistent on going in one corner of the room, sometimes it’s easier to give in to their stubbornness, and place a litterbox in that corner. Sometimes when rabbits consistently choose another place to go, they are trying to tell you that that’s where they want to go.
  • If your rabbit is pooping/spraying pee everywhere, this is probably due to your rabbit marking his territory. It’s a good idea to get your rabbit spayed/neutered in order to ease territorial feelings.
  • Sometimes rabbits deliberately pee on your couch or bed because they’re showing you who’s Top Bunny in the house.  You should correct their misconception immediately.  See our blog post, “Being Top Bunny” and the House Rabbit Society’s article, “FAQ: Training” for more information.

More litter training information:

If you have any other great litter training tips or tricks, please share them!

Grand National Rabbit Jumping Competition

Rabbit jumping champion at Harrogate

Cherie, a rabbit from Sweden, won the show jumping championship in Harrogate, England. Photo by Daniel Oxtoby.

The Burgess Premier Small Animal Show had its second annual rabbit show jumping competition in Harrogate, England. More than 10,000 visitors watched a dozen rabbits navigate a course with ten hurdles.

To learn more and watch a video of the event, see the BBC website.

Bunny Agility Classes in Minnesota

Rabbit jumping over hurdle

Cooking leaps over the longest hurdle at the Minnesota Companion Rabbit Society's agility class. Photo: Renee Jones Schneider

If you ever wondered how far or high your bunny could jump (or how long he/she will sit with no interest in front of an obstacle course), you can learn the answer at the Minnesota Companion Rabbit Society‘s agility classes.  Rabbits can advance through six levels of training.  They also offer Hoppy Hour sessions which focus on bunny socialization.

Read the full story here: Star Tribune

My favorite quote from the article was from Guinevere Keith, who said her rabbit Russell “follows the sit command pretty well.”

My experience with rabbits is that often they know full well what you want them to do, but they’re just not very obedient. They think, “I could do that, but what’s in it for me?” And who can blame them really…

New York House Rabbit Conference

March hareRabbit lovers in the northeast US: You may be interested in attending the annual House Rabbit Society / Rabbit Rescue & Rehab Conference on Sunday, October 23 from 10am – 5pm at the Radisson Hotel in New Rochelle, New York.

The rabbit care conference will cover topics such as rabbit behavior and training, bunny bonding, medical Q&As, demonstrations, goodies, and more! You may even run into actress/comedienne and longtime rabbit advocate Amy Sedaris!

For more information, see the Rabbit Rescue & Rehab website.

British Rabbit Show Jumping

The Burgess Premier Small Animal Show was held over the weekend in Harrogate, Yorkshire and featured a new rabbit jumping event, which attracted newer competitors from England and veteran jumpers from Sweden. The clip above features a champion rabbit show jumper named Flora from Sweden.

Other clips showcased less elegant rounds where bunnies crouched down refusing to jump over the hurdles, ran around/away from the hurdles, or knocked the bars down with their noses.

For more info:

BBC.co.uk
YorkPress.co.uk

Pre-Holiday Sale at Wabbit Works

Wabbit Works, maker of the Screwy Rabbit Hay Buffet, is having a pre-holiday sale of $5 off hay boxes and $5 off shipping if you order now. If you have free reign bunnies in your home, this hay box is a very good addition to your current setup. It greatly reduces mess, the hay stays dry and clean (eliminating a lot of waste), and you don’t have to keep replenishing the rabbit’s hay throughout the day.

Buy it at WabbitWorks.net »

Screwy Rabbit Hay Buffet

Product Review: Screwy Rabbit Hay Buffet

When we switched from store-bought timothy hay to a locally-grown timothy hay-orchard grass mix from a farm, we realized there was one disadvantage.  The hay was more tangled together than the store-bought kind, and Cos, being very greedy/possessive of her food, started running away with large clumps of hay in her mouth. The hay got all over the carpet, and it was a big pain having to constantly clean it up.

Enter the Screwy Rabbit Hay Buffet.  We recently acquired this durable (but lightweight) hay feeder from Wabbit Works.  It’s actually large enough to hold a substantial amount of hay, unlike the hay feeders available at the pet store.  This feeder caters to a rabbit with a proper hay-based diet.   It keeps the hay contained (so no dragging large clumps out of the litterbox anymore), and it fits next to a litterbox.  (We actually have three small litterboxes surrounding it because our rabbits seem to like having options.)  There is less waste because the hay stays more or less in the feeder rather than being sat on in the litterbox.

Cos eating out of the Screwy Rabbit Hay Buffet
Cosette eating out of the Screwy Rabbit Hay Buffet.

Coco eating out of the Screwy Rabbit Hay Buffet
Coco takes his turn.

Coco eating out of the Screwy Rabbit Hay Buffet
Cos gets jealous…

Cos and Coco eating out of the Screwy Rabbit Hay Buffet
and joins him.

Cos and Coco eating out of the Screwy Rabbit Hay Buffet

Being Top Bunny

I get a lot of emails describing the same scenario:  Bunnikins has taken to hopping on the sofa and peeing on it. It’s a frustrating situation and one that has happened in our household as well. I remember after the third time it happened with Cosette a few years back, I had picked her up and put her in her cage.  (She still had a cage back then although it was always open.)  I closed the cage door and closed the kitchen door where the cage was located.  But even in the other room I could hear her thrashing around in the cage trying to break free.  For a rabbit who detests being picked up and despises even more being cooped up in a cage, this was the greatest insult.  I felt bad locking her in – and I did let her out  again after an hour –  but after that time, she never peed on the sofa again.

I later came across an incredibly useful article on the House Rabbit Society website which helps shed light on this behavior and suggests ways to train your rabbit.  The article is called “FAQ: Training,” and under the heading “Behavior motivated by social structure,” it delves specifically into the peeing on the couch problem.

Anyone who is experiencing this issue should read the article.  The entire article is actually very enlightening as well- covering various issues that most bunny owners will come across at some point.

Cos and P.A. Smith

Thinking about Adopting a Bunny?

In our earlier post, we mentioned that February is Adopt a Rescued Rabbit Month. For those of you inspired to add a bunny to your family, here are a few basic tips before you bring your new furry friend home.

  • Finances: Be prepared to spend money up front on the adoption fee, as well as housing/food/bunny proofing supplies. Be sure you’ll be able to afford ongoing costs for your bunny on food, litter, and vet bills (including spay/neuter fees if your bunny didn’t get the surgery while at the shelter/rescue). So often I receive heartbreaking emails from people whose rabbit needs veterinary attention, but they cannot afford it. Please don’t let that happen to your bunny. Check out Petfinder’s chart of estimated yearly costs of pet ownership to give you an idea.
  • Bunny Housing: Rabbits are social animals. The location of your rabbit’s housing area (which can take the form of a cage, puppy pen, bunny condo, or just an area with the food, litter boxes, and cardboard castles if your bunny is free reign) is an extremely important consideration. Make sure your rabbit has a place to relax by himself, but make sure that he’s not completely secluded from your family. Rabbits need social interaction, plenty of exercise, and a lot of enrichment activities. Take a look at our Housing article to learn more.
  • Bunny Proofing: If your bunny will have free reign in your house/apartment/room, you will absolutely need to bunny proof the area. Even if you keep your bunny in a cage, condo, or puppy pen, you still will need to safeguard your home when you let your rabbit out for supervised exercise. Rabbits are very curious and persistent creatures. They will find a way into your computer cables, wires, molding, couch piping, slightly frayed rug, etc. They will eat your most important documents. Check out our Bunny Proofing article for tips on protecting your bunny and your things.
  • Enrichment: Rabbits will get into trouble if they’re bored. They’ll make their own fun chewing your possessions if you don’t provide alternate forms of entertainment. A great diversion for rabbits is a cardboard castle filled with empty toilet paper rolls, old phone books, and other paper products you find around the house.
  • Litterbox Training: Most rabbit rescues will start the process of litter training the bunnies they take in. So your bunny should have the basics down, but sometimes rabbits forget their good habits once they move into their new home. This is natural because the drastic change in environment can be very stressful. Litter training can be frustrating at times, but the key is persistence and consistent reinforcement of good habits. Read our article about litter training to learn more.
  • Nutrition: It’s important to have a good understanding of your rabbit’s nutritional needs throughout his/her life. Proper nutrition (and in the correct amounts) is vital for your rabbit’s well-being. The staple of a rabbit’s diet is fiber. But for a more detailed explanation, see our article, What to Feed Your House Rabbit. Another great link is the House Rabbit Society’s article about diet, which discusses the appropriate amounts as well as types of food to give your rabbit from youth to old age.
  • Bonding with Your Bunny: Give your rabbit time to adjust to his/her new setting before expecting him/her to be your new best friend. Check out our article about building a relationship so you get off on the right foot. Rabbits can be quite affectionate animals, but personalities definitely vary from individual to individual. Most rabbits don’t particularly like being held/picked up, and some bunnies are more aloof than others. Talk with a volunteer at a local rabbit rescue to learn more about which rabbit (or pair of rabbits) has a personality that will be a good fit for you and your family.

Bottom line: Do your research first! Check out our articles under the Rabbit Care, Rabbit Behavior, Health, and General sections to learn more. There are also many other websites devoted to rabbit care education. Go to our Resources page to find other useful websites.

http://www.petfinder.com/after-pet-adoption/estimated-yearly-costs-pet.html.