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How To Train Your Rabbit

Training your Rabbit (Background and Setup)

Training your rabbit is an important step to establishing and maintaining a healthy relationship with him. Training takes time, patience, and a good amount of effort, but it leads to a happy and well-behaved bunny. It’s a great way for both parties to get to know each other better and having your pet understand you is a real blessing. There’s no doubt in the value that having a trained rabbit gives to the owner.

Rabbits are incredible pets and are even better with some proper training! One of the benefits of training your rabbit is that it will allow you to let your rabbit roam more freely throughout a rabbit-friendly environment. This way, you will be able to let your bunny get the exercise and freedom they need throughout the day without worrying too much about their behavior!

So, how do you even start training a pet rabbit? First, you’ll need lots of treats. Be sure to keep them small (rabbit bite-size) so that treat feeding is quick and fun for the rabbit. We recommend using Supreme’s Tiny Friends Farm Russel Rabbit Crunchers and splitting it into 4-5 small pieces. Be sure you’re not over-feeding your rabbit with treats, and keeping it only to a couple treats split into bite-sized pieces. Secondly, you’ll need lots of patience. Rabbits, like any other animal, won’t learn a behavior in just five tries. Training your pet rabbit will take time, effort, and patience, but it will be very well worth it in the end!

Clicker Training

One of the best and easiest ways to train your rabbit is through clicker training. Rabbits understand clicks much better than they do the human language, so they are able to pick up on it fairly quick. Clicker training has many benefits as it can be hands free (if you are using your mouth) and, since it’s not voice specific, anyone can pick up where you left off in the rabbit’s training as needed.

Teaching Your Rabbit What the Click Means

Upon beginning the clicker training, you’ll want to teach your rabbit what the click means. Without associating the click to a good phrase such as “well done,” and “good job,” the rabbit may be confused or disregard the sound. This is where the treats come in. Sit down in a comfortable environment with your rabbit with a pile of small treats beside you (the smaller the better). Do a click, and within 5 seconds of the click, give your rabbit a treat. You want to be sure to wait about 2 seconds or so in order to be sure the click registers to your rabbit and an association can be made. Another method is to feed the treat to the rabbit, and while he’s chewing, use the clicker. Repeat a few times (about 15 should be good) and then stop. Your rabbit should now realize that click equals treat.

Training Your Rabbit Behaviors with the Click

Before continuing on with training, you may now want to wait a bit for the association to settle. Then, there are a few different ways to go about training your rabbit. One method is to wait until your rabbit is doing something that is considered “good” behavior naturally, and click and treat immediately. This technique requires constant attention to your rabbit and a bit of repetition, but is a good way to reward natural “good” behavior.

Another technique is to start by enticing your rabbit with something such as: a) A treat (which you will then use as reward) b) Something interesting such as your hand or a toy. Then, hold your object close by and wait for your rabbit to look at it. Once he has, click and treat (Note: It’s important to ALWAYS treat your rabbit after a click at this stage). Repeat 10-15 times until this process has registered to your rabbit. Once this has been completed, move your object to different spaces and click and treat whenever your rabbit looks at it, giving more treats if he happens to touch it.

Next Steps to Clicker Training

The trick is to get your rabbit used to thinking that click equals “good job” and repetition until they realize their behavior is what you want. Once you get this down, you should be able to teach your rabbit any behavior you’d like them to learn. You can then move on to using voice commands in place of clicking, and soon enough your rabbit will be coming running to you when you call for him!

Litter Box Training

One of the biggest reasons why rabbit owners don’t let their bunnies roam freely is because of the potential mess they make when they aren’t litter box trained. Untrained rabbits will urinate and defecate in their area (usually in a specific corner they deem as their “toilet”) and potentially make a mess of the home and garden. What many owners don’t realize is that it’s actually quite simple to litter box train rabbits!

The Litter Box

When searching for a litter box suitable for your rabbit, what you’ll need to keep in mind is size. You’ll need enough room to fit both litter and hay, as well as a rabbit who may sleep in his box! A regular cat litter box will do just fine, as long as it’s not too deep or covered.

Types of Litter

It’s important to remember that not all litters are the same, nor are they all suitable for rabbits. Some great litter options for rabbits include:

  •          Recycled newspaper
  •          Animal bedding
  •          Wood stove pellets

There are also some litter options that you should not use for rabbits, as they can make them sick and be potentially lethal. These include:

  •          Clay litter
  •          Pine or Cedar litters

Getting Started with Litter Box Training

When starting out, you’ll want to keep your rabbit in a confined space. The size of this space is completely up to you and how you choose to live with your rabbit. If you plan for your rabbit to be roaming the house freely under supervision, a good idea is to start out with a small room, preferably without carpet.

Place the box in a corner with about 1” of the suitable litter and enough hay to cover the litter. If possible, place some of your rabbits’ poos in the box so it smells familiar. Your rabbit should be intrigued by this new box, and want to check it out. He will likely sit inside, eat some hay, and defecate while eating. Note: If your rabbit falls asleep in the box, that’s completely normal!

Rabbits are territorial and like to make a space “their own.” They will sort it out how they wish, including the exact area they want to do their business. If you find your rabbit isn’t using the litterbox, try moving it over to where your rabbit’s designated toilet area. This will be a notification to him that he should be using the box, and not the floor.

Once you see your rabbit using the litter box as intended, give him a small treat and pet him lovingly. If he is clicker trained, you can use the clicker as well to signify he is doing a “good job.” Eventually, he should catch on that he is supposed to use this box. Once he is using the box every time, you can then expand his space. Repeat the previous steps for every room you will allow him to wander freely in, starting out with at least 1-2 boxes per room. You will then be able to downsize as he learns which litter boxes he likes best.