Pets are like family.
They are life companions.
But are rabbits trainable like dogs and cats?
Is it difficult to call them by their name?
These are the questions we want to answer, right?
Get ready. You’re about to learn something interesting about rabbits today.
Read on to learn more:
- Things to avoid while training your rabbit.
- 11 steps to train a rabbit to come when called.
- How rabbits communicate with us and one another.
- And so much more…
How to train a rabbit to come when called? 11 steps
#1: Build trust as early as possible
Consider this as the terms & conditions for yourself.
Your rabbit can only reciprocate whatever you show and make them feel.
Start building trust with your rabbits by feeding them and spending more time with them.
Making them feel safe at home is vital in your relationship.
A study showed that it is better to start training rabbits at an early age.
Rabbits are investigative and curious.
Providing adequate space for them will keep their natural behavior. They sniff and look for potential territories and hideouts.
Did you know: Rabbits are inherently shy, especially wild ones. So, keep in mind to be gentle and calm every time.
#2: Get to know your rabbit
Rabbits are prey animals.
They’re quick to respond to their environment but a little less receptive to sound than dogs and cats.
According to a study, the lowest frequency that rabbits can hear is 360 Hz, while dogs can detect it at 67 Hz.
When training your rabbit, getting delayed responses from them is okay.
The best way you can do in training your rabbit is to spend more time with them.
Establish a daily routine and engage them in short burst activities for 10-15 minutes.
Avoid overworking them as this may induce high-stress levels.
If you feel the need, don’t hesitate to ask a professional to help you train your rabbit.
#3: Start calling them by their name
You sometimes can’t help but make up a lot of nicknames for your pets as an expression of love.
You can summon them by using all your other favorite desserts…
But always call your little cinnamon roll by their names first.
Rabbits are trainable and tame enough to be picked up.
They can remember the way you call them and even recognize your voice.
Remember: Rabbits are sensitive to loud, sudden sounds. Make sure to call them with a soft voice.
#4: Try to distance yourself from your rabbit
True enough, “Distance makes the heart grow fonder.”
We don’t want to get cheesy here…
But this is necessary to ensure your rabbit can adapt to your little training.
Remember: Both wild and domesticated rabbits are territorial. They can get aggressive once you intrude on their space.
As rabbit owners, it’s important to know their natural behavior and need for space.
Practice calling your rabbit from a distance.
See if they recognize your appearance or your voice. You can go to other rooms and test if they find you.
Tip: Give rewards each time your rabbit can follow or find you to motivate them.
#5: Let them come to you on their own
Rabbits have a great sense of smell (olfaction) and hearing than humans.
They can detect various odors of other rabbits and animals and locate food.
This is because rabbits have scent glands on their nose.
It is their way of protecting themselves from perceived harm in their surroundings.
Did you know: When rabbits sniff you, they’re either annoyed with you or talking to you.
This biological trait makes them trainable like any domesticated animal.
Mimic or create a distinctive sound to practice them to come to you on their own. Always prepare a reward or treat afterward.
Tip: Use a clicker to help your rabbit familiarize themself with the sound. Trade clicks with food or treats to motivate your pet to respond to it.
#6: Give them healthy treats
Finally, rabbits and humans have something in common – they like to chew.
But unlike humans, rabbits need to chew often to avoid dental problems.
Rabbits are generally herbivores.
They munch on herbs, fruits, and even tree bark for wild rabbits.
Food is always an effective technique for pets to follow and listen to their owners.
Give them healthy treats as much as possible.
Tip: Use your rabbit’s favorite treats to motivate them while training.
#7: Use other positive reinforcements
Rabbits have unique body language and expressions.
Some common gestures are the following.
- If their head is flat on the floor, you should pet them.
- They groom you by licking you as a sign of affection.
- They sniff at you because they’re annoyed or just talking to you.
- They grind their teeth softly to show you they’re content. It is how they purr.
Rabbits are also social animals.
They interact with other rabbits following a level of hierarchy or ranking.
According to a study, group-housed rabbits tend to show signs of good health and socialization skills.
They prefer social interaction and are suitable to live in pairs or more at home.
But take note that not all male rabbits get along instantly.
You may need to observe their behavior when you decide to adopt another.
#8: Give proper commands
Rabbits rely on body language as a form of communication.
Avoid the following when giving them commands:
- Moving too fast.
- Touching their nose.
- Trapping or chasing them.
- Talking to them in a loud voice.
- Holding or picking them up all the time.
Rabbits are intelligent animals.
They either observe when they feel threatened or look farther away when they are curious.
Always reward their curiosity by giving them food or by petting them.
#9: Reward them with toys
Domesticated rabbits like to play with toys by pushing or tossing them.
They react very well with enrichment objects like the following:
- Bird toys.
- Hay baskets.
- Wooden sticks.
- Elevated platforms.
- Softballs designed for cats.
- Suspended rattles for noise-making.
Rabbits are also less stressed when they hear instrumental music in their pen.
Tip: Wood chip bedding benefits your rabbit’s health. It reduces bone deformations and paw injuries.
#10: Create a healthy atmosphere for your rabbit
Rabbits have hind legs that allow them to do long jumps and hops.
In a study conducted in the UK, domesticated rabbits are much more inactive than farmed ones in big pens.
Owner demographics also play a role in a rabbit’s welfare, such as age, gender, and housing structure.
Tip: Avoid caging your rabbits. Create an adequate space for them to simulate their natural habitat. Elevated platforms are good for their short burst exercises.
#11: Be consistent and patient
Think about it:
You’re basically training yourself along with your bunny.
Rabbits may take time to adapt to whatever trick you’re teaching them, and that’s okay.
Avoid showing aggression or a bad temper toward your rabbit.
They tend to sense negative energy from people around them.
Tip: Create a training schedule for your rabbit and stick to it. They’re nocturnal animals. But, they can be active in daylight depending on their feeding time and other external noises.
Here’s an example of a rabbit training video:
Things to avoid while training your rabbit
Aside from knowing the essentials in how to train your rabbit…
It’s helpful to know what actions to avoid as well, such as:
- Touching their nose.
- Staring at your rabbit.
- Putting them in a small cage.
- Evading their space or territory.
- Pairing them immediately with the same sex.
- Holding your rabbit for long extended periods.
- Not paying attention to their body language like ear movements.
Remember: Rabbits tend to bite their cage or paw it as a sign of distress or discomfort. Skeletal disorders and physical deformities might develop when caged in a small pen.
How rabbits communicate with us and one another
A rabbit’s chin contains scent glands that they rub against an object to mark their territory.
It’s a similar gesture to cats when they rub their bodies on your leg.
Your rabbit claims you as their owner when they put their chin or head on your shoulders or arms.
#2: Sniffing/Nose twitching
When rabbits twitch their nose, something might have caught their attention.
It could be a noise or a movement in their surroundings.
Rabbits sniff to pick up a scent and see if there are animals nearby.
#3: Spraying urine
Rabbits are territorial animals.
Spraying, also called ‘marking’, is another way rabbits communicate with each other.
Both male and female rabbits spray urine. But it is common to males, especially unneutered ones.
#4: Teeth grinding
If the grinding is loud enough, it could be a sign of distress for your bunny.
Yet, it could also mean purring if it is gentle grinding. When your rabbits are purring, it means contentment.
#5: Thumping with the back foot
Your rabbit smells danger or harm when they thump their back foot. It could also mean they’re frightened by something.
Rabbits make a lot of noises. It could show discomfort or pain when you notice they have difficulty breathing.
Breathlessness in rabbits may be due to bacterial infections and stress.
Read further: 19 Alarming Signs That Your Rabbit Is Stressed + What To Do
#7: Circling your feet
Like a cat’s gesture of affection, rabbits that circle your feet could mean a few things.
- They’re interested in you.
- Asking for a treat or food.
- Showing their urge to mate.
#8: Ears back or upward
When a rabbit crouches with tense muscles and ears back, it must be anxious. They tend to hide or run away.
Rabbits also signal you to stay away from them when their ears go upward and their bodies tense.
Rabbits are prey animals. They have survival instincts.
When your bunny kicks you, it might be in a state of self-defense.
When you’re holding your rabbits, they might kick you to escape from you.
Rabbits lick themselves when they groom themselves. You can also see them grooming other rabbits.
When your bunny licks you, it means affection or a bond.
Rabbits growl or grunt to show disapproval or uneasiness. It’s a common sign of distress or anger, especially when you touch them.