Spoon and fork. Socks and shoes. Rabbits and dogs.
Wait, hold up…
Is the last example correct?
Can rabbits and dogs even live together?
Continue reading to discover:
- 5 surprising factors that can affect a bunny-dog bond.
- 5 amazing rabbit-friendly dog breeds (#3 is a guarantee).
- If rabbits and dogs can live together (and how they’ll get along).
- And that’s just the beginning…
Can rabbits and dogs live together?
Rabbits and dogs can live together. Although, that’s not always guaranteed. So, always test out their reactions to each other first.
How to test if a rabbit and a dog can live together
Note: In this trial, any dog and rabbit can either fail or do well. Don’t make any assumptions based on the animal’s appearance and size.
Step 1: No contact
Before your dog and rabbit’s first meeting…
Put Fido on a leash. This will help you maintain control over them during the interaction.
As for your bunny, they must be in a cage.
Note: It’s best to put your rabbit in a car carrier. A cage that’s open on all sides can make your bunny more scared. Moreover, limited openings mean less chance for the dog to put their paw inside.
After ensuring that everything’s all set…
You can now expose the animals to each other.
Step 2: Ensure the dog is in heel position
This would be the transition from ‘no-contact’ to ‘contact.’
So, to prepare your pooch for the latter…
Ensure they’re in the ‘heel’ position.
And if you and your dog need a refresher…
Here’s a helpful video on how you can make your dog heel:
Step 3: Let the rabbit approach the dog
Now that your dog’s in a proper position…
Open the cage or carrier and wait until your bunny comes out.
Remember: Since they’re the smaller animal, they must have the upper hand. So, keep your canine still while your rabbit approaches their fur pal.
When to stop the interaction
You must closely watch your fur babies during the trial. And your goal is to catch the following:
For your canine, don’t let them get out of their heel position. If they try, it means they’re overly excited or stimulated.
As for your bunny, you must watch out for signs of stress and fear. According to professionals, those are:
- Being jumpy.
- Bulging eyes.
- Flattened ears.
- Heavy breathing.
- Trying to hide (behind you or back to the cage).
If you see any of those in 1 or both of the animals…
It’s time to cut the interaction.
For the bunny, encourage them to go inside the cage once again.
As much as possible, don’t immediately pick them up.
That’s because research says that contact doesn’t make a bunny calm down. Rather, it can make them more fearful. Especially since most rabbits don’t like being touched.
And don’t worry. You can always try again.
In fact, I encourage you to test their reactions more than once.
However, to get the desired result, you must also train your pooch. Which you can find in the following sections.
Read also: 21 Quick & Effective Ways To Reduce Stress In Rabbits
Do rabbits and dogs get along?
Rabbits and dogs can get along. However, that’ll depend on the following factors:
#1: Personality matters
This is a huge factor in whether your bunny and canine will click or not.
For example, your dog is too jumpy for your easily-scared rabbit.
Or Fido’s prey drive is too high, and your bunny won’t escape them.
On the other hand, your rabbit can also be aloof. Which makes it harder for your dog to make a bond with them.
But there’s no right formula with this one.
All in all, it’ll come down to how the fur babies are raised. Or what type of environment they grew up in.
Fact: RSPCA reveals that inside dogs are more behaved. While canines who live outside show more behavioral issues like excessive barking.
That said, your bunny might have more trouble getting along with the latter.
#2: Hormones can affect their behaviors
Both the animals’ reproductive systems affect their hormones. Then, that influences their overall behaviors.
For one, when a dog or bunny is intact, they’re more aggressive. Whether they be male or female.
That’s why if you’re going to mix a dog and bunny in a household…
It’s best if they’re both spayed or neutered.
Otherwise, the rabbit might hump your dog. Then, your canine might have a high prey drive, which is dangerous for your bun.
#3: Consider their age difference
Who said age doesn’t matter? It does for your bunny and dog.
Unfortunately, it’s hard for bunnies and dogs to get along if they have a huge age gap.
Your senior dog becomes more anxious as they get older. And an overly excited baby bunny won’t help ease that.
Likewise, a hyper puppy can easily stress out an old rabbit.
#4: Know your dog
Before getting a rabbit when you already have a dog…
Take a look at your pupper, and answer these questions:
How reactive is your canine?
According to AKC, a dog’s reactivity isn’t considered aggression. But it can escalate into that.
Now, a reactive pooch gets easily worked up by certain stimuli. An example of a stimulus could be a hat, small children, or your bunny.
And when Fido spots any of these …
They won’t be able to control themself. Thus, they behave poorly around it.
On a scale of 1 to 5, how playful are they?
One might think that a playful pooch is better than an aggressive one.
In this case, it’s not.
A playful dog can still endanger your rabbit.
And this time, Fido has no intention of harming anyone.
Yet, they’ll hurt the rabbit due to a lack of control and over-excitement.
So if your dog is moderately (3) to very (5) playful…
They might not be a good match with a bunny. Not unless you further train your pupper. And I put a section about that in one of the following parts as you continue reading.
#5: Know your rabbit
The canine isn’t the only one you must consider…
You should also assess your bunny. Ask yourself this question:
On a scale of 1 to 5, how fearful are they?
As prey animals, rabbits get easily frightened.
According to PETA, fearfulness in a bunny can even lead to a heart attack. Which can kill them.
So if your bun is moderately (3) to very (5) fearful…
You’ll have a hard time making them get along with a dog.
But don’t worry. I added a section in the article to help you with this challenge.
5 rabbit-friendly dog breeds
A dog’s breed influences their temperament. So, it’s one of the factors that can also affect a canine’s behavior toward your rabbit.
That said, here are the dog breeds that can be your bunny’s next best friend:
Oh, the fluff won’t ever stop with this combo.
Now, AKC describes these dogs as gentle.
And I’ll agree to that.
A Maltese is loved by many because they’re good-natured pups.
Moreover, a Maltese dog is only 1 lb (0.45 kg) heavier than an average rabbit. So, they weigh almost the same.
#2: Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
Yet another gentle baby who’s a perfect playmate for your bunny.
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are adaptable canines.
That’s why they can easily adjust for your rabbit.
And with their sweet and graceful approach, Cavies would surely love your little bunny.
#3: Golden Retrievers
Fun fact: AKC says they’re among the most popular dog breeds. According to their data, 6 out of 800 dogs in the U.S. are Golden Retrievers.
And I won’t even question that statistic…
Goldies are in the canine hall of fame due to their versatility.
They’re much loved as a family pup. Or they’re best at being service dogs. Other times, they’re even involved in search and rescue.
But Golden Retrievers are the best bud for your bunny because of this:
They have soft mouths.
“Why is that?”, you ask.
In the past, Goldies were assigned to retrieve game during hunting.
Most of those were small animals, like ducks.
That’s why they must not bite too hard. Otherwise, they’re going to damage the catch.
Today, a trained Goldie can carry a raw egg in their mouth without cracking it.
So, regardless of their huge size difference…
Rest assured they’ll be gentle to a bunny.
#4: Japanese Chins
A canine with a feline-like appearance…
Japanese Chins are small dogs ready to be friends with a bunny.
Your rabbit can surely handle Chin’s moderate energy level and playfulness.
Moreover, these pooches aren’t too large for a bunny to interact with.
#5: Great Pyrenees
Yet another medium-sized dog that made it on the list…
However, don’t be fooled by their size.
Sure, they’re frequently described as vigilant and majestic…
After all, they’re trained to guard livestock against bigger predators like bears and wolves.
But what you’d like about Great Pyrenees is this:
They’re as calm as the smoothest waters.
They’re also patient, which is important when playing around with a bunny.
Moreover, their intelligence is a testimony to their trainability. Therefore, it can be easier for you to make them get along with a rabbit.
Can a rabbit live in a house with a dog?
A rabbit can live in a house with a dog. However, you’ll need to desensitize your bunny first. As I said, it’s easy to scare them, and they could even die from it.
Now, through desensitization, you gradually expose your rabbit to stimuli.
And as you slowly introduce them to their fearful trigger…
Little by little, your rabbit will feel less threatened by it.
And in this case, a canine, who’s a predator, can be a stimulus.
With that, you can go back to this subsection to learn how to desensitize your rabbit:
“How to test if a rabbit and a dog can live together?”
You can find it under “Can rabbits and dogs live together?”
Yep. Those steps that I mentioned count as desensitization.
That’s why I also said to do the test more than once.
And you’ll notice your rabbit will put up with the canine longer each time. Until they get along and they’re good to live in one household.
You might also want to know: 17 Biggest Pros And Cons Of Rabbits As Pets
Will my dog hurt my rabbit?
Your dog won’t hurt your rabbit as long as you train the former properly. Regardless, you should always supervise each interaction between them.
Now, you might be asking:
“What counts as a properly trained dog in this case?”
To answer, the canine must ace the following:
Tamed prey drive
This is a natural urge for all dogs. And it depends on their breed and upbringing on how strong it’ll be.
Now, one way to tone down a dog’s prey drive is through spaying or neutering. Which I mentioned before.
Next is by doing the following:
- Training them to leave something.
- Teaching them to come back to you when you call them.
Moreover, avoid punishing them.
Keep interactions positive and reward good behaviors. These will lessen your dog’s aggression and reactivity.
Controlling their bite inhibition
Most people think that bite inhibition is a dog’s tendency to snap. It’s not.
Rather, it’s a dog’s ability to bite using less pressure.
And given that all canines have the potential to bite…
When playing with a rabbit, your dog must have control of their mouth. Otherwise, they can hurt the bunny.
One way to train your pooch to do this is to cut back on biting. Discourage it, even when they do it playfully.
And when they do bite you, yelp a little “Ouch!”
That’ll tell Fido that their action hurts you.
Although it might take a lot of tries. But in the end, they’ll learn which pressure is best when biting.