Training your house rabbit can be easy. Just like dogs, rabbits do learn quickly what the do’s & don’ts are. Follow our simple tips below & always be patient. Every rabbit is different & for some it may take more time. Please always remember that most of the time your bunny’s behaviour is natural behaviour to them, so never shout at your rabbit. You need to try and teach them in a firm, calm collective way and not stress them out & remember to praise them when they are good.
Keep them safe
You will need to make sure your bunny is safe at all times. Remove anything out of reach that could be of danger to your bunny, like house plants or glass ornaments, etc. Make sure all electrical wiring is safely covered with plastic tubing. If you have any reclining furniture make sure your bunny cannot get near them and make sure they cannot get stuck in any small gaps around the house.
When exercising them free range for the first time, start with a small section of the house. This will help your rabbit to know where to go when it’s time to go back in & you will have less items to deal with when teaching him to leave them alone. Gradually increase the exercise area as you progress with the training. It helps to decide beforehand what areas are ok & safe and what areas are to be out of bounds. Use puppy pens to section off areas.
Teaching them ‘No’
When teaching them ‘no’ you can clap your hands (not too loudly) and say ‘no’ quite loudly and firmly but don’t shout. You can also use a bell or anything that makes a noise, to alert them and get their attention.
It really helps to keep saying their name a lot when training them.
When distracting your rabbit from something in your house that they are interested in chewing, always provide plenty of safe, fun alternatives. It’s no good distracting them from something and they have nothing else to go to, as they will just keep trying. Create a little play area of toys and cardboard boxes for them. Remember to praise them when they do go to the safe alternative.
Take your time
Take time to watch your rabbit and get ready to say ‘no’ when they go to chew something they shouldn’t. Keep doing this until they no longer show interest. Don’t expect them to stop straight away, it will take time & patience.
New items of furniture will always need to be investigated by your bunny & they will want to scent it. Watch over them, allow them to scent it and get ready to say ‘no’ if they go to chew it.
Use mats or ceramic tiles to cover any bits of carpet that are of interest to your bunny. Corners tend to be a favourite. Use cushions or draught excluders to block any gaps. Use galvanised wire panels, cut into rectangles and bed round corners of walls that your rabbit is showing interest in. You can also bend these panels round furniture too.
When it comes to go back into their own area, use the word ‘bedtime’ or ‘bed’ and they will soon associate this word with going back in.
Give them plenty of hay
If a bunny has lots of fresh hay to graze on, 24 hours a day, this really does help in stopping them gnaw on items around the house. Remember what they do around the house, good or bad, it’s all down to natural behaviour!
Training takes time as your house is one huge playground to a bunny. Be patient and you will soon have a well behaved bunny that is only interested in his own toys and not your furniture.
For further advice on training visit Bunny behaviour
Find more tips and advice in our Best4bunny Magazine.