How to Train Your Small Dog to Like a Rabbit

Hard
4-6 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

Traditionally dogs are predators, rabbits are prey, and specifically, rabbits are prey for dogs. They are a natural food source for canines and their wild cousins. What if you have a pet rabbit and a pet dog?  Is there any hope of your dog becoming “friends” with your rabbit? Will you be able to socialize them and let them loose together? 

Many dogs and rabbits share homes together quite amicably. But whether your dog and rabbit will be able to be loose together and enjoy companionship depends on your dog and, to some degree, your rabbit. Dogs that are extremely prey motivated, or from breeds recently crossed with wild canine cousins, such as coyotes or wolves, are not good candidates as bunny buddies! 

However, most dogs can be taught to respect their rabbit housemates. Even a Labrador cross farm dog, Bella, who would happily chase and kill a jackrabbit in her field, has been trained so that she carefully steps over her mistress’s pet bunny, sitting on the living room floor, and quietly goes to her bed in the corner, leaving the family bunny unmolested. Bella may be an exceptional case, as she will chase wild rabbits, but not her family's tame one. Most dogs cohabitating with rabbits are trained not to chase rabbits at all, and this is usually how best success occurs in establishing rabbit and dog roommates!

Defining Tasks

Before training your pet dog to get along with your pet rabbit, who is naturally a prey animal to your dog, it is important that your dog is obedient, that he listens well to your commands and responds to you, and that your dog recognizes you as the pack leader. Dogs perceive the world through their rigid social structure, which is hierarchical and includes a pack leader and pack members of varying ranks. You will want to establish that you're the pack leader and that your rabbit is a member of the pack, along with your dog, in order to be able to let your dog and rabbit safely in contact with each other.  

You can start training your young dog to get along with your rabbit, but a puppy may have limited self-control. Although he may not be intentionally aggressive towards your rabbit, roughhousing and chewing can be difficult to control for a puppy and can injure your rabbit, so use caution with young dogs. An older dog may have more control over behavior. Also, using a confident bunny helps; a rabbit that always shows fear or runs away will not be useful at teaching your dog not to chase or view the rabbit as a prey object.

Getting Started

Be sure to supervise closely at all times when introducing a rabbit and dog together, to protect the rabbit's safety. Using a leash and a cage or barrier is usually necessary to control the situation until success socializing your two pets occurs.  Treats can be used to reward calm non-aggressive behavior in your dog around the bunny. Be sure you have a strong relationship with your dog, that he sees you as his leader, and responds to your commands and direction before attempting to teach your dog to socialize with an animal that he would otherwise see as prey. This strong relationship is necessary to help him establish an alternate way of relating to the rabbit and turn your bunny into a buddy, not an appetizer!

The Introduce Slowly Method

Most Recommended
2 Votes
Step
1
Introduce in cage
Put your rabbit in his cage in the middle of the floor and keep your dog on a leash so you have control of your dog. Slowly approach the cage and allow your dog to investigate. A bunny will usually feel safer in his cage, and if the rabbit is well socialized will probably not show fear of your dog. If he does, finding a bunny to borrow that is less fearful may be useful for training.
Step
2
Reward calm
If your dog stays calm while investigating, talk calmly and praise him, give him treats.
Step
3
Correct aggression
If your dog barks, paws at the cage or reacts aggressively, correct him by tapping him on the side and distracting him. Move your dog further away until he is calm and then approach the cage again. Say “gentle” when your dog is quiet and calm with the rabbit.
Step
4
Hold rabbit
When your dog is quiet around the rabbit in the cage, take the rabbit out of the cage and hold him while your dog investigates. Have an assistant hold the rabbit so you can control your dog on-leash. Reward gentle behavior, correct aggressive behavior. Create space when needed.
Step
5
Let loose supervised
Gradually move to playing with the bunny on the ground, and if your dog reacts calmly, remove leash and allow the rabbit and dog to move around together, supervise closely.
Recommend training method?

The Make a Pack Method

Effective
1 Vote
Step
1
Put rabbit in rolling cage
Dogs like to travel in packs. Your dog forms a pack with you, other people, and other animals that walk alongside him. Put your rabbit in a small rolling cage, available at pet stores, or put a small cage with your rabbit in it on an open wagon, so your dog can see the rabbit.
Step
2
Walk with dog
Go out on a walk in a safe location. Be sure other large, aggressive dogs will not be present, that may get out of control and attack your rabbit in the cage. Control the situation. Walk your dog alongside your rabbit in the cage frequently.
Step
3
Carry rabbit
If possible, have a reliable child ride in the wagon holding the rabbit on a leash to increase exposure during walks or carry your rabbit while on a harness and leash. This will help your dog see your rabbit as a pack member part of his traveling group.
Step
4
Introduce after walk
Start introducing your dog to your rabbit after walks in a quiet location with your dog on leash and the rabbit held on a leash. Supervise closely. Tell your dog to lie down at first, until the rabbit becomes accustomed to your dog.
Step
5
Allow to socialize
Eventually let your dog and rabbit move around together, if they are comfortable together you can let them off leash, in an enclosed safe area while supervised, to socialize together.
Recommend training method?

The Create Submission Method

Least Recommended
2 Votes
Step
1
Tire and expose
Exercise your dog so that he is tired and ready for quiet time. Expose your dog to your rabbit while your rabbit is in the cage on the floor. Praise calm behavior, correct aggressive or excited behavior.
Step
2
Have dog lie down
Once your dog is calm around your rabbit in the cage, have your dog lie down next to the cage door on his side. This is a submissive position. You are teaching your dog that he is not dominant over the rabbit.
Step
3
Allow rabbit access
Open the cage door and allow the rabbit to come out and investigate your dog at his own pace. Do not force the bunny out.
Step
4
Allow investigation
If your dog is remaining calm, allow your dog to lift his head and sniff or investigate the bunny, but insist he remains lying down, and allow the bunny to move around freely. Give your dog lots of praise and attention for being still and calm. Repeat frequently for several days. This stage will take significant time for your rabbit to become comfortable approaching the dog, and your dog to learn not to react to the rabbit.
Step
5
Increase exposure
Eventually allow your rabbit and dog to move around together. Always supervise and insist your dog lie down if he shows signs of wanting to play aggressively. Reward your dog when lying down in the presence of the rabbit, so your dog recognizes this as a pleasant experience and does not feel frustrated and reprimanded constantly.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Bella
German Shepherd
4 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Bella
German Shepherd
4 Years

My daughter is getting a rabbit in about a week or so and I am very concerned on how my dog will react. She has killed some birds in our backyard and I am afraid she might think that the rabbit is prey. Do you have any tips on how I can manage her aggression and relationship towards prey animals.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
621 Dog owners recommended

Hello Samantha, First, I would be sure to keep the rabbit behind locked doors where she can't get to the hutch to break into it when you are not able to supervise. Second, work on commands with your dog that help with inpulse control, calmness, and respect for you, to help you manage their interactions, keep bunny safer, and allow you to desensitize pup to the rabbit. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Crate manners: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo Down-Stay: https://www.thelabradorsite.com/train-your-labrador-to-lie-down-and-stay/ Leave It: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Third, reward pup for calmness and focus on you around the rabbit. Do this with pup on Place with a leash securely fastened to something secure that can't be pulled over nearby. Reward pup for staying on Place, ignoring the bunny, and/focusing on you instead with bunny in the room on the other side of the room being taken care of by another adult during training. Fourth, if pup seems overly fixated on the bunny and won't look away from it and focus on you at all, check out the videos linked below and hire a trainer who comes really well recommended and can help with those types of skills and the balance or gentle corrections for prey driven behavior towars the bunny, and rewards for tolerance and calmness around the bunny. Mild cat issue - teaching impulse control: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWF2Ohik8iM Moderate cat issue - teaching impulse control using corrections and rewards: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dPIC3Jtn0E Severe cat issue: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MLJV5PBh7Y More e-collar work with cats with the same dog: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8lkbX0dhT0 Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Add a comment to Bella's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Foxy
Pomeranian
1 Year
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Foxy
Pomeranian
1 Year

Hello, my Foxy is so sweet, and my rabbit, Yvonnie, likes to follow her around the house, interrupt her naps and play with her whenever I let her out. Sometimes they are nice together and lay together and play, but sometimes Foxy starts to get annoyed and growl, which doesn’t seem to bother the bunny at all! But it bothers my dog occasionally. What’s the best approach when she starts to get aggressive? She nips at Yvonnie but never bites. She paws her sometimes and I don’t want it to potentially go too far

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
621 Dog owners recommended

Hello Quinn, I suggest treating the bunny like a puppy with an older dog. To help an older dog get along with a puppy it's important to advocate for the older dog and manage the interactions, so that the older dog doesn't feel overwhelmed and like they need to be the one to discipline and control the puppy. When you remove some of the stress of being constantly pestered, then many older dogs start to relax around puppies. Essentially, manage the interactions between Foxy and the bunny. When you notice that Foxy wants to be left alone, instead of waiting for her to start growling at your bunny or trying to escape, make the bunny leave the area where Foxy is. You may want to set up a comfortable area for Foxy where the bunny cannot follow or use a baby gate or exercise pen to keep the bunny away from her during these times. You can discipline the aggressive displays firmly but gently, but it sounds like the bunny is really the issue and Foxy simply needs her own space some times. If Foxy feels like she can depend on you to take care of things and protect her when she wants to be left alone, then she will likely feel less stressed about the bunny's presence and can enjoy her more when she feels like playing or spending time with her. Reducing the stress can help keep the aggression from escalating. You can also reward Foxy when the bunny enters the room initially and for being tolerant of the bunny's presence, so that the bunny is associated with good things in her mind. When the bunny leaves, stop the rewards. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Add a comment to Foxy's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Donk
Jack Russell Terrier
1 Year
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Donk
Jack Russell Terrier
1 Year

My dog is too giddy and hyperactive, and wont stop licking peoples faces.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
621 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kyle, I suggest working on teaching pup some directional commands. Once pup knows those commands, practice those commands around willing friends you recruit while pup is on a drag leash. Use the drag leash to calmly enforce pup to leave people alone, go to place, or obey whichever directional command they have calmly been told to. Practice this often around a lot of people. Also, check out the article linked below to build pup's respect for you calmly as well - the consistency and working methods: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Directional commands to work on with pup: Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Out - which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Down-Stay: https://www.thelabradorsite.com/train-your-labrador-to-lie-down-and-stay/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Add a comment to Donk's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Finley
Yorkshire Terrier
9 Weeks
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Finley
Yorkshire Terrier
9 Weeks

Hello I have a house rabbit and a New puppy he is half the time very calm around the rabbit of ignoring. However when he wants to play he tries to chase the bunny. I call him over and give him a treat every time he ignores the bunny is this the right thing to do? Will he eventually be calm all the time around the bunny

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
621 Dog owners recommended

Hello Ruth, Rewarding him for being calm around the bunny is great. That is half the picture. You can also gently correct him for trying to chase the bunny. I would keep a drag leash on him or keep him attached to yourself with a leash while you are home. Whenever he tries to chase the bunny, tell him "Ah Ah" and give a gentle tug of the leash. When he ignores the bunny or is calm while interacting with the bunny, calmly praise him and give a treat. When you reward and correct, remember that he is still learning, you are telling him yes do this, and no don't do that to help him learn the rules of your home while young. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Add a comment to Finley's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Biha
Mixed breed
1 Month
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Biha
Mixed breed
1 Month

I've had a free roam house rabbit for two years now and she's very aggressive when new people/animals enter the home. Thinking this behavior was out of loneliness, I got her a baby bunny which ended terribly...I ended up giving away the bunny. Fast forward...I recently adopted a 1 mo. pup who is very calm and who I think would make a great friend for my rabbit, but my rabbit has already exhibited aggressive behavior. What do I do ?! :(

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
621 Dog owners recommended

Hello Maria Check out the following articles. I am not a rabbit trainer or behaviorist but the following articles might give some insight. https://rabbit.org/faq-aggression/ http://www.therabbithouse.com/behaviour/problem-aggressive-rabbit.asp https://www.wikihow.com/Address-Biting-and-Aggressive-Behavior-in-a-Rabbit crate train puppy and teach the Leave It command and Out command for puppy to teach puppy to give your rabbit space so he will feel less threatened by your dog. You will likely need to confine puppy and rabbit more, so that your bunny can't charge pup but can still get accustomed to his smell and scent from across the room. Rotate using a baby gate to keep bunny in certain areas, and an exercise pen for puppy while your rabbit is free roaming. Surprise method for crate training: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Leave It method for teaching Leave It command to pup: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Out - which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ I am not experienced with bunnies but most animals can be trained using clicker training and positive reinforcement. You might want to train bunny to associate the clicker or a certain word like "Good!" with a food reward when puppy is not present. Once bunny associates that cue with something good, then click and give a reward whenever puppy is near your bunny and bunny is not acting aggressive yet, or you rabbit gets close to puppy's pen without being territorial and aggressive. Basically reward your rabbit whenever she is calm and tolerant of pup but not while she is acting aggressively - since whatever you click and reward is the behavior you generally get more of. Per the articles linked above's suggestions, you may want to consult your veterinarian about whether your rabbit's behavior could be medical or hormonal and could be addressed in those areas. (I am not a vet) Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Add a comment to Biha's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Snorkel
Beagle
8 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Snorkel
Beagle
8 Years

We rescued our dog almost two years ago. My rabbits had been staying at my parents while my husband and I built an indoor enclosure for them. When I go in to feed them, my dog barks outside the plexiglass doors and sometimes jumps on the doors, scratching. She is ok when they are in their cages but the goal is to allow them to have full access to the enclosure out of their cages. I know beagles were bred for rabbit hunting, is there hope for us? I don’t necessarily want them to meet close up, I just want to be able to spend time with them and for my dog to be calm while I’m doing it.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
621 Dog owners recommended

Hello Renee, There is hope. I wouldn't expect her to be able to be close off leash around them and safe but expecting her to be calm around them from a distance is possible in most cases. With dogs that have a high prey drive it can involve low level remote collar training though - to teach the dog to avoid the rabbits and simply walk away when she is too tempted by them. The prey drive can't be removed but by teaching avoidance you can often teach a dog to keep themselves from becoming overly aroused (where it's hard to control themselves) by managing themselves better...I.e. avoiding looking or walking away or giving more distance - the dog learns to manage how they behave to keep themselves calmer. Check out the videos linked below for several examples of how this is done. Because it involves remote collar training I do suggest hiring a trainer who is very experienced with e-collar (remote training collar) training and teaching things like avoidance on a dog's "Working level" - which is the lowest level a dog will respond to the collar at - making the training gentler. Also, only use a high quality collar for this. A good collar generally has at least 20-60 levels (not 3) so that you can find the lowest level your dog responds to, to make the training gentler and more effective. Check out the following videos below: Fitting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLxB6gYsliI Finding the Working level: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cl3V8vYobM Good remote collar brands: Garmin Dogtra SportDog E-Collar technologies - the mini educator model Teaching avoidance information and examples: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MLJV5PBh7Y More e-collar work with the same dog: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8lkbX0dhT0 More in-depth on avoidance: Day 1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lgNbWCK9lFc Day 2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kpf5Bn-MNko&t=14s Day 3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xj3nMvvHhwQ Day 4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxrGQ-AZylY Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Add a comment to Snorkel's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Dexter
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
3 Years
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Dexter
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
3 Years

Hello, we are currently in the process of adopting a dog from the shelter who has been abused. He's very loving and a little nervous. I have 2 house rabbits a home, who are used to ruling the roost! My girl is very nervous and my boy is very chilled. We are so worried that they may never be able to live in the same house and I am asking for your opinion before I go through with this because the bunny's were here first so if I am going to be putting them in major danger I won't be able to adopt this doggy. I just wish in some world they would all be friends but however I am willing to put the work in. I have hard some horror stories. Are staffy's capable of loving bunny's? and are bunny's capable of loving them back?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
621 Dog owners recommended

Hello Rachael, There are two main things I would consider when making this decision. First, is either bunny territorial toward other people or animals? Second, what is pup's prey drive like? If the bunnies are territorial and/or pup has a high prey drive either or those things can be a big problem. Ask the rescue a lot of questions about how pup is around other animals like squirrels and cats. If pup has high prey drive, then if it was me I personally wouldn't adopt that particular dog with free-roaming bunnies in the home. You can management prey drive and territorial aggression but you can't remove them completely. Some dogs are very laid back, regardless of breed norms. This dog could be a dog with very little prey drive, who is submissive and laid back and things would be fine with the right management and training. If the rescue can't offer insight into pup's prey drive and temperament, then I suggest asking to do a two-week trial period with pup - to evaluate his prey drive and see if during two weeks the animals can make progress together, and especially how fixated he is on the bunnies and whether the bunnies are territorial and aggressive toward him. Even making pup for the day to place like pet stores and parks and watching his reaction around small animals may offer some insight - although this definitely not a definitive test. If the two weeks go really well, then with lots of training and careful management they may learn to coexist peacefully together. If things don't go well and you have the time, you may want to consider adopting a puppy instead, who can be raised with the bunnies; choosing a breed that typically has lower prey drive would also be important - although there are exceptions to standards within individual dogs. With a puppy you can't assume you have the exception while they are still little and you don't know yet though. Whatever you end up doing, make sure pup is on a leash and a harness or collar he can't slip out of or pull away from you from to keep everyone safe if you bring him home where the bunnies are. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Thank you for this information. We have decided not to take the risk, because the rescue are not 100% of his background, and he has been known to chase cats. We do not want to take the chance. Very unfortunate as he is a lovely boy, but it's not fair on anyone really - buns and dog included. We are now waiting for a dog who has lived with small animals. I believe the right one will come along :) Thanks again.

Add a comment to Dexter's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Luca
Maltese
1 Year
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Luca
Maltese
1 Year

Hello, I have a 5 year old bunny named B and recently rescued a small breed dog named Luca. I love all the suggestions and methods of slowly introducing the two- I desperately want them to become friends or tolerate each other someday. I will try a few methods!
My question is mostly bunny related. Any tips on how I can make this transition easier on B? He has played with dogs before and had them in the house when my family stays over
- but since these were not my dogs I never left unsupervised and kept him in his own room. However in this case, I don’t want to make B more resentful by isolating him (if that makes sense) for an extended period of time. Since the dog is so young and needs a lot of love right now we can’t really put him away so B can come out to play. We are establishing boundaries with the dog and right now B’s room is off limits, is there anything else you could suggest? I know in a few months things could be different but don’t want to effect my bunnies sweet personality.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
621 Dog owners recommended

Hello Nina, I would highly suggest using an exercise pen. You can put a dog food stuffed chew toy and durable dog bed in the exercise pen for pup. I definitely would not allow the animals together unsupervised for a long time - so you will either have to use a crate or exercise pen. When you are present, you can also tether pup to yourself hands free with an 8 foot leash so that pup stays close to you. Finally, I would work on teaching pup a Place command too so that when you are there to supervise you can tell pup to go to Place and stay there and calmly check a chew toy while puppy relaxes in the room also. If needed you can also screw an eye hook into the wall and attach a chewproof leash to that and to pup to ensure pup can't leave the bed to chase bunny. Check out VirChewLy brand for an example of such leashes. Just make sure the leash is long enough it's slack as long as pup stays on the Place bed. Leash example - only tether pup while home: https://www.amazon.com/VirChewLy-Indestructible-Leash-Medium-Black/dp/B001W7WJVI?psc=1&SubscriptionId=0ENGV10E9K9QDNSJ5C82&tag=lidotr-20&linkCode=xm2&camp=2025&creative=165953&creativeASIN=B001W8457I&th=1 Place: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-place-command-the-good-dog-training-tips/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Add a comment to Luca's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Betsy
Pug
4 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Betsy
Pug
4 Years

My dog is quite high per and even though she is small is very hard to control. I am very much the Alfa however if she is extremely excited what I say won’t really go through to her. How would I bring my bunny and pug together?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
621 Dog owners recommended

Hello Temple, Check out this video below of a dog learning impulse control around a cat - work on teaching pup similar things around your bunny. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWF2Ohik8iM Work on impulse control in general with pup, by teaching things that increase impulse control and calmness - such as a long Place command around lots of distractions. Practicing the command until you get to the point where pup will stay on Place while you are working with the bunny in the same room. You can also back tie pup while they are on place - connecting a long leash attached to pup to something near the Place just in case pup were to try to get off Place before you could intervene. This keeps bunny safe while practicing and reinforces to pup that they can't get off the Place. The leash should be long enough that pup doesn't feel the leash while they are obediently staying on the Place because it has some slack in the leash. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Crate manners: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo Down-Stay: https://www.thelabradorsite.com/train-your-labrador-to-lie-down-and-stay/ Leave It: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Out - which means leave the room: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Add a comment to Betsy's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Lily
Multipoo
9 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Lily
Multipoo
9 Years

I have recently just got a bunny and my one dog lily is constantly at the door of the room that the bunny is in and constantly whining and crying. When I let her in the room to see the bunny in the cage she will pace around the cage and whine and cry and sometimes scratch at the cage. No signs of aggression toward the rabbit just curiosity and jealousy. She won’t leave the door I hear her pacing around the door constantly since the rabbit is in my bedroom. I’m concerned this behavior will just keep up and the bunny was not a good idea after all. I also have two other dogs that do not care that the bunny is hear at all she is the only one that cares.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
621 Dog owners recommended

Hello Anna, First, work on teaching pup the Quiet and Out commands. Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Out - which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Once pup knows those commands well, when he is scratching, barking, or whining at the door, tell pup to either be Quiet or Out (leave the area). If he disobeys and keeps doing it, use a Pet Convincer - which is a small canister of pressurized, unscented air. Tell pup "Ah Ah" calmly and spray a small puff of air at pup's side (NOT face and only use unscented air - citronella is too harsh). If pup you are wanting pup to be in the same room with the bunny at any point and just want him to stop the noise, that may be all that you need to do. If you want to teach pup to tolerate the bunny while in the same room together (with you present and the bunny safe), work on teaching pup impulse control around the rabbit also. Check out this video below of a dog learning impulse control around a cat - work on teaching pup similar things around your bunny. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWF2Ohik8iM Work on things that increase impulse control and calmness - such as a long Place command around lots of distractions, practicing the command until you get to the point where pup will stay on Place while you are working with the bunny in the same room. You can also back tie pup while they are on place - connecting a 6 foot leash attached to pup to something near the Place just in case pup were to try to get off Place before you could intervene. This keeps bunny safe while practicing and reinforces to pup that they can't get off the Place. The leash should be long enough that pup doesn't feel the leash while they are obediently staying on the Place because it has some slack in the leash. Focus the most attention on Place, Stay, Leave It, and Out. The other commands are good commands for generally building impulse control and listening but don't apply as directly to what you will be doing. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Crate manners: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo Down-Stay: https://www.thelabradorsite.com/train-your-labrador-to-lie-down-and-stay/ Leave It: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Add a comment to Lily's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
gizmo
Maltipoo
12 Weeks
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
gizmo
Maltipoo
12 Weeks

so we have had a rabbit for almost 3 years and we decided to get a puppy, what can i do to make them like each other/get along?

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
66 Dog owners recommended

Thank you for the question. It is doable, but it will take time and you may not be able to have them as friends for quite some time, meaning when Gizmo is older. It depends on the temperament of both the dog and the rabbit. I have both a rabbit and three dogs; I have never allowed interaction between them so I am not really an expert on the subject. The Create Submission Method on this page looks as though it may be a good choice but whatever you do, take it slow and do not push the introduction if either party looks hesitant. This article, from a Rabbit Care website, has excellent advice on rabbits and dogs, please be sure to read the article all the way to the end. https://rabbit.org/journal/1/dogs.html Good luck!

Add a comment to gizmo's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Princess
Chihuahua
15 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Princess
Chihuahua
15 Years

I was wondering how do get my dog to like my rabbit because I don’t think she seen a rabbit before i tried to put her by him but she’s avoiding him what can I do about that?

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
66 Dog owners recommended

Thank you for the question. If Princess is avoiding the rabbit, I don't think that is a bad thing. It's better than having her chase and bother the rabbit. I have a rabbit and 3 dogs and they do not socialize - I actually keep mine apart. Even though this guide is geared toward puppies, it has very good pointers for a dog of any age. The Gradual Introduction Method may work for Princess because you are not forcing the issue with her: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-puppy-to-like-a-rabbit. Remember, she is a senior pet who is used to being on her own, so I think as long as they co-exist without problems, Princess will get to know the rabbit eventually. Even so, keep them separated when you are not home. Good luck!

Add a comment to Princess's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Debbie
Parson jack russel cross staffy
4 Years
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Debbie
Parson jack russel cross staffy
4 Years

I’ve just got Debbie today and I’m trying to settle her in, my rabbits are inside and I don’t think Debbie has seen a rabbit before as soon as I brought her in the house she went straight to the cage trying to get in so I’ve put the rabbits outside while Debbie settles in ...what can I do x

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
621 Dog owners recommended

Hello Abby, I suggest following the "Introduce Slowly" method and keeping the animals separated when you are not able to train - to prevent Debbie from bothering them, breaking into the cage, or increasing her aggression toward them - which would make training a lot harder. https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-rabbit Be very careful and get Debbie used to wearing a basket muzzle while also on a leash, if needed. If you are not seeing some progress within two weeks doing the training, I suggest hiring a professional trainer to help you. This type of training can be delicate - especially with older sogs who were not raised with such animals. Be aware that there are some dogs who can never adjust due to a strong prey drive that would be too dangerous for the prey animals to always manage in the same household. A trainer should also be able to evaluate Debbie in that area, once the training begins based on how she is responding to the training and her body language around the rabbits. Do not trust her around the rabbits yet though. Left on her own right now she likely would kill them because they are still just prey to her. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Add a comment to Debbie's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Freckle
German Shepherd
7 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Freckle
German Shepherd
7 Years

My dog loves to run around and chase rabbits. I just recently got one (she is very nervous), but we can’t let my dog and the rabbit in the same room together, even when the rabbit is in her cage. Freckle gets very still and into hunter mode every time. What can I do about this?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
621 Dog owners recommended

Hello Olivia, The below videos show training dogs around cats - but the same general training techniques apply to other smaller animals, who can be seen as prey. Mild issue - teaching impulse control: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWF2Ohik8iM Moderate issue - teaching impulse control using corrections and rewards: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dPIC3Jtn0E Severe issue: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MLJV5PBh7Y More e-collar work with cats with the same dog: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8lkbX0dhT0 Work on impulse control in general with pup, by teaching things that increase impulse control and calmness - such as a long, Place command around lots of distractions. Practicing the command until you get to the point where pup will stay on Place while you are working with the bunny in the same room. You can also back tie pup while they are on place - connecting a long leash attached to pup to something near the Place just in case pup were to try to get off Place before you could intervene. This keeps bunny safe while practicing and reinforces to pup that they can't get off the Place. The leash should be long enough that pup doesn't feel the leash while they are obediently staying on the Place because it has some slack in the leash. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Below are some other commands in general you can practice to help pup develop better impulse skill/self-control - impulse control takes practice for a dog to gain the ability to control herself. Crate manners: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo Down-Stay: https://www.thelabradorsite.com/train-your-labrador-to-lie-down-and-stay/ Leave It: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Out - which means leave the room: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ The level of prey drive pup has toward the bunny, will effect just how much of the above training needs to be done. If pup is simply excited about the bunny, you may be able to practice impulse control commands such as Place to desensitize them to the bunny, without more advanced e-collar work. If pup is prey driven toward the bunny, all of the training will need to be practiced, and you may even want to hire a professional with experience in this area to help implement it safety with you and pup. Look for someone who has experience in this area and with the right training tools and methods, and who comes very well recommended by their clients. Either way, when you are not directly supervising the animals together, there needs to be cages and doors between them - don't ever assume pup won't harm bunny when left to their own devices - especially if there is predatory instinct toward the rabbit. Take precautions to keep the animals separate when not working with them directly, and be sure to use the correct setups to keep training sessions safe, like a secure back tie leash to keep pup from getting to the rabbit during training. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Add a comment to Freckle's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Lilith
American Staffordshire Terrier , Lab mix
6 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Lilith
American Staffordshire Terrier , Lab mix
6 Months

I just got this rescued puppy not too long ago, but my boyfriend and I have three fairly roam free rabbits , which are absolutely terrified of our puppy Lilith. We have found a suitable home for Lilith, but we’ve gotten so attached to her and want to believe it’s possible for our rabbits and her to slowly get used to each other. Our puppy Lilith is very playful, but she wouldn’t hurt the rabbits I don’t think, and if she were to get close to hurting any of them she listens to us no matter what, my main problem is the rabbits, they’re so scared of her I honestly don’t know what I could do to help them realize that she just wants to play, what do you think I should do?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
621 Dog owners recommended

Hello Leia, I suggest teaching pup a Place command and work on having pup stay on place with the rabbits in the room to see if they could acclimate to her being still on Place, then keep the animals separate when pup isn't on place. If the rabbits can relax around her on Place, you could gradually increase interactions, byu practicing heeling with her on leash past them, and other structured commands that involve a bit more movement. I can advise you on puppy's training, but unfortunately I am not a rabbit trainer, so I cannot offer a lot of guidance there. Perhaps see if there is a rabbit forum online or trainer that also deals with the training of small prey animals, like rabbits, and see what they suggest. Anything I would suggest would be based on my knowledge of dogs. Clicker training is often used with various types of animals, including prey animals, so might be one option with the rabbits. Many rabbits are territorial and they are prey animals, so their responses to training and behaviors will be different than a dog. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Add a comment to Lilith's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
scout
Chihuahua
7 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
scout
Chihuahua
7 Years

how do i introduce my dog to my bunny? he’s very nice but gets really excited and will sometimes do a ‘half’ bark. I don’t want the rabbit to be scared but i want them to be friends

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
621 Dog owners recommended

Hello Addie, Start teaching pup Place and Quiet before introducing them. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Once pup is doing well, introduce the bunny from across the room with another person managing the bunny, while pup is back tied to something secure while on Place. Practice Place with the leash loose enough that pup won't feel it tug unless they try to leave Place, and commands like Watch Me, Down, Sit, ect... Reward pup for calm responses, ignoring the bunny, and/or obeying you. Once pup can calmly co-exist in the same room with the bunny while on Place, practice pup heeling around the room with you and rewarding pup for staying calm, focusing on you, and obeying. Eventually you can let the animals sniff for no longer than 3 second intervals, rewarding good responses, interrupting any fixating on the bunny or tensing up around the bunny. You want to encourage manners, calmness, low arousal, and focus on you around the bunny from the get go. With good boundaries in place and a calm mindset, you can gradually relax things when you are certain both animals are completely comfortable and safe around each other. When you aren't actively training and supervising, keep them separate right now for safety reasons - make sure there is not just a hutch but also a closed door between them (many dogs have broken into hutches), but do slowly increase how often and how long you practice things like Place with the animals around each other. Check out the videos linked below for examples of obedience practice and desensitization around a cat - which is a similar process to the bunny. Mild cat issue - teaching impulse control: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWF2Ohik8iM Moderate cat issue - teaching impulse control using corrections and rewards: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dPIC3Jtn0E If pup appears to be prey driven around the bunny - which it doesn't sound like is super high from your description but I am not there in person to observe, reach out immediately for help because you will likely need additional safety measures and training methods for that level. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Add a comment to scout's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Honey
terrier/yorkiie/italian greyhound
1 Year
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Honey
terrier/yorkiie/italian greyhound
1 Year

Hi! I have an 8 year old free roaming rabbit that only stays in our bedroom. My husband and I are looking to adopt a 1.5 year old dog and was wanting some advice on introducing them and some guidance. With having an older rabbit would that be too stressful on him. We are trying to weigh pros and cons without making an impulse decision. Thanks in advance.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
621 Dog owners recommended

Hello, I would look into rescues like foster based rescues, who will let you do a two-week trial with a potential pup to ensure things work between the animals. You can also invite a friend with a calm, low-prey drive dog to cover over, keeping pup leashed for safety, and see how your rabbit behaves. Either way, if you do pursue adoption, look for a dog who is calmer, has a low prey drive, and does well with cats - which doesn't guarantee doing well with the bunny but will significantly increase the odds of it. Unfortunately I can't tell you how your bunny will respond. Much of that will depend on you bunny's temperament, plus the temperament of the specific dog. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Add a comment to Honey's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Book me a walkiee?
Pweeeze!
Sketch of smiling australian shepherd