Training your rabbit!

Rabbits make great pets !..& they're smarter than you might think!

You might find that it is actually you being trained to meet the needs of your rabbit, not the other way around!

Firstly, rabbits like to be clean!  Most rabbits can be trained to use a litter box, much like a cat.

Provide a tray large enough for your rabbit to sit in comfortably. We find compressed newspaper pellets the best as they absorb odour but should still be changed daily. The pellets should be deep enough for your bunny to sit on without getting their feet wet when urinating, about half full.

Toilet training is better started when the rabbit is young but adults can also be trained. Start by placing some of the rabbits poo in the litter box, place it in a corner or sheltered spot & bring the rabbit to the box. Most bunnies will sniff the box then jump on in but some may need a bit of coaxing. Leave the bunny & litter box in a limited space for a few days, ie in the cage or room. When changing the litter box, place a little poo from the  previous day into the clean litter box & Praise your bunny with a pat every time they use the box your bunny will soon get the idea.

Some bunnies will get the idea faster than others but most will still drop the occasional pellet around, don't take this as failure, its one of the ways rabbits mark their territory. One of our female rabbits loves her litter box in the laundry so much, she even naps in it & sometimes eats there.

Rabbits can also be trained to do simple tricks. Our female rabbit will  approach me when I am in the kitchen & stand on her back legs  expecting a treat. My children trained her to do this by holding pieces of vegetable up in front of her & making her gradually reach higher until she now does it automatically when she wants a piece of broccoli or carrot.

She will also leap up on to our laps or lounge when we pat the spot. We did this by gently lifting her & reassuring her & over time she got the idea.

Sometimes your rabbit will do things that you would rather it didn't. Our bunny was trying to chew books on the bottom shelf of the bookcase. Initially we blocked off the area but over a week removed the barricade. When the rabbit went near the area, we would clap our hands & say her name with a loud "No". If this failed , we would gently pick her up & place her in her cage.

This took about a week to reinforce but our bunny has now learned to avoid the area near the bookcase or face "timeout" in her cage!

 She now also recognises her name & will come when called. You can also do this by offering a treat & positive reinforcing by patting, when your rabbit does what you ask.  Allow your children to do this as they will really enjoy training rabbits as will the rest of the family .

Pepper in her tray.

Pepper in litter tray
Credit: Alyssa