Forum

OUR FORUM IS UP BUT WE ARE STILL IN THE MIDDLE OF UPDATING AND FIXING THINGS.  SOME THINGS WILL LOOK WEIRD AND/OR NOT BE CORRECT. YOUR PATIENCE IS APPRECIATED.  We are not fully ready to answer questions in a timely manner as we are not officially open, but we will do our best. 

You may have received a 2-factor authentication (2FA) email from us on 4/21/2020. That was from us, but was premature as the login was not working at that time. 

BUNNY 911 – If your rabbit hasn’t eaten or pooped in 12-24 hours, call a vet immediately! Don’t have a vet? Check out VET RESOURCES

The subject of intentional breeding or meat rabbits is prohibited. The answers provided on this board are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. It is your responsibility to assess the information being given and seek professional advice/second opinion from your veterinarian and/or qualified behaviorist.

What are we about?  Please read about our Forum Culture and check out the Rules

BUNNY 911 – If your rabbit hasn’t eaten or pooped in 12-24 hours, call a vet immediately!  Don’t have a vet? Check out VET RESOURCES 

The subject of intentional breeding or meat rabbits is prohibited. The answers provided on this board are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet.  It is your responsibility to assess the information being given and seek professional advice/second opinion from your veterinarian and/or qualified behaviorist.

BINKYBUNNY FORUMS

Forum BEHAVIOR Another ‘My Rabbits Hate Me” post

  • This topic has 5sd replies, 4 voices, and was last updated 2 weeks ago by LBJ10.
Viewing 5 reply threads
  • Author
    Messages

    • Petticoat6029
      Participant
      2 posts Send Private Message

        I have read -every-thing I can find and am at a loss. I don’t know what to do. I adopted two rabbits that were already bonded about 5 months ago. One male, one female, both spayed/neutered. One is 2 and one is 3 years old. They get along well. For the first month or two things were as expected. I would lay on the floor 2-3 times a day for about 30 minute each, working or reading. They would come up to me, I would give them a treat, and they might sniff around a bit. If I reached out to pet them, they would run away, so I stopped reaching out to pet them. Another month or two passes and nothing has changed. They still come up, I ignore them and they walk away. Maybe once every couple sessions I would try to pet them and they would hop away. To be more specific, the boy will sniff around then casually hop away. The female will sniff around, hop back to their hidey house, and stomp. Every single session, for 3 months. I don’t know if they were abused prior to being surrendered to the rescue I got them from or what, but I haven’t been able to bond with the rabbits at all.

        I had them in an exercise pen (4×4, 16sqft) with a hidey hole, the little ikea bed everyone has, a large open litter box, water, and a few toys on rugs so they can slip. It had been a few months and they were good about peeing in the litter box (poop everywhere, but I don’t mind and its easy to clean) so I removed the x-pen and gave them the option to roam. The boy will occasionally walk around, the female has never left the 4×4 area that the pen used to be.

        Things were fine for another couple weeks, still trying to bond daily, still making zero progress. The male rabbit has always liked to crawl under the little bed which is is adjacent to the litter box, and has started urinating under it. I sopped it up with paper towels, put them in the litter box, rinsed the rugs, washed with vinegar, then machine washed. Within 24 hours there was more urine in the same spot. I removed the bed, and he continued to urinate in that spot. I moved the litter box over a few inches to that spot, and he began urinating on the opposite side of the litter box. The litter is replaced every other day, and the box is large enough for them both. Each time this happens, I pull the rugs out, wash them, and put them back in. I haven’t put them back in the pen yet, as the urine is always next to the litter box. I am planning on putting them back in the x-pen today though, as the rescue I got them from mentioned that reducing their free area temporarily can reinforce their perception of “their territory” and reinforce the litterbox habits”

        I don’t know what to do. I cannot figure out how to stop the male from urinating next to the litter box. I haven’t made any progress with him in the 6 months we have had him despite spending over an hour laying on the floor every day. He still will accept food from me, but will not sit near me. If I sit down near him (read ~4-6 feet away) while he is relaxed he stands up and walks away.

        Somehow, the female is more upset with me than when we started. For multiple weeks now she refuses to accept food from me. She is eating, if I stand on the opposite side of the room she will eat once I leave. I have brought them to a vet and there aren’t any medical issues.

        I understand that bonding takes time, but its horribly demoralizing to spend all this time researching how to bond with the rabbits, spending hours each day laying on the floor, and making no progress with one, and somehow going backwards with the other. I tried excessive treat giving, but noticed their poops were becoming a bit wet, so I cut down to one per session and no more than 2-3 a day. Between the urine and lack of making any reasonable progress with bonding with them, I am losing motivation to lay on the floor each day. Recently they both have been hiding in their house any time I lay with them, like they are scared of me. I don’t know what else I can do, and am starting to wonder if they were abused prior to my adopting them. I don’t see binkies, they rarely relax and sprawl out, it seems like they aren’t happy and I don’t know what else I can do for them. I am struggling to find the patience and emotional strength to keep sitting with them each day, its depressing. I am starting to wonder if this is a bad fit and I should surrender them back to the rescue.


      • DanaNM
        Moderator
        8839 posts Send Private Message

          So, I totally understand your frustration, but I would urge you to be patient, as annoying as that is. Some buns take a very long time to decompress from the shelter environment. Even very good rescues can be very stressful, and all buns have different personalities. My main advice is to stop trying so hard, as annoying as that is. Play “hard to get”. The scheduled sessions with them may be putting a bit too much pressure on you and them, whereas just sitting in the same room watching a movie may feel more organic and make things feel a bit easier. I do think it would be good to hand feed them as much as possible, including their salad greens and even pellets. If either of them is too afraid to take food from you, try feeding it through pen bars at first so they feel more safe. Some buns take a really long time to warm up, and some may never really want to snuggle. There are also ways to interact with the bun besides petting, such as clicker training. Something like that could be a fun way to start to build a relationship with them that isn’t so touch-oriented.  Clicker training is also a good way to desensitize the bun to touch as well (you can train them to “target” on your hand as a first step).

          As for their setup, I would put their pen back in place, even if you leave it open often. It sounds like they are a bit fearful, and many rabbits view their pen as their “safe space”. Removing the pen entirely may make them feel as if they have to be on guard all the time. I think this could be why the female is becoming more fearful. She may do better with the pen being closed for a part of the day, and then opened for exercise time.

          Adding lots of tunnels and hides around the room will also encourage exploration. My shy bun (who I talk about below) really didn’t start exploring the room until I added a maze. She looooves her maze!

          As for the urine and litter box issues, I have a bun that does this! Honestly what solved it for me was adding a small litter box next to the main one where he was peeing. While some rabbits do get trained to the “box”, others just get training to an area, so he is likely viewing the whole area as his toilet. Easier to just give in and add another box than keep battling.

          To give you a glimmer of hope, I adopted one of my rabbits, Bonnie, after she had been in the shelter for 3-4 years. She had become very cage aggressive and hated hands. You couldn’t reach into her cage at the shelter to feed her without her grunting and boxing you. It really broke my heart (I was volunteering) so I decided to foster her and she became a foster fail. With her I had decided I was just going to let her live her little bunny life and I wasn’t going to worry about petting her or even trying to get her to be my friend, I was just going to enjoy the fact that I gave her a safe home where she didn’t have to be afraid anymore. I did bond her with a very social and friendly bunny so she wouldn’t be lonely. I adopted her in summer of 2020 and just in the last 6 months or so (like 3 years later lol) she now will accept some nose rubs about once per day, which was huge!  Another forum moderator had a bunny that “suddenly” decided to be her best friend after I think a year or two! So sometimes it does take time, but it helps to try to appreciate the buns where they are at now, rather than where you hoped they would be.

          . . . The answers provided in this discussion are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or a qualified behaviorist.  


        • Petticoat6029
          Participant
          2 posts Send Private Message

            I appreciate the kind words. It is putting pressure on my and I assume them as well, though all the advice I see is “more time on there level” so I am fearful that if I stop spending time with them, things will only get worse. My partner and I spend a good amount of time in the room with them, though its a larger room so I am not sure if they even know we are there lol.

            I will have to look into clicker training, I haven’t read much about it. I also took your advice and put the xpen back, opening up one side so they can get out and roam when they would like. I have a tunnel for them, they seem to like napping in it.

            After posting this I reached out to the rescue about the peeing and was told to try another litter box. I put that in yesterday and woke up to more pee elsewhere. I sprayed some vinegar on it and will wait to wash until they are a bit more accustom to the added litterbox/layout.

            I appreciate the story. I will hope for the same experience down the line.


          • DanaNM
            Moderator
            8839 posts Send Private Message

              I agree you don’t want to completely stop spending time with them, I was more suggesting to not feel like it had to be scheduled strictly, if that makes sense? And spending time in the room with them still counts as spending time with them and should help them get over some of their fear as well. I hope clicker training is fun for you and them! There are good tutorials specific to rabbits on youtube, but the concept is the same for any animal.

              That is for sure frustrating about the peeing! This problem is so common that I’ve seen a comic about it on instagram. Some buns are definitely harder to litter train. With one of mine I have slightly given up on him having perfect box habits. Thankfully the marking is almost always in his pen and not around the room, so it’s not too hard to deal with. One thing I’ve found with many buns is that they will pee (and poop) anytime they are eating hay, so if they can reach the hay from outside the box, they will sit outside the box and pee/poo right there. Having a large enough box that the hay is out of reach unless they jump in helps a lot.

              Flooring can also affect things, as many buns will pee on soft surfaces. This is challenging because of course we need soft surfaces for their hocks, but I had one bun that would pee on fabric relentlessly so I didn’t have any blankets down immediately around her litter box and that helped a lot. With my current peeing bun I guess I’ve just given up and accepted that there will often be some pee near his box on the fleece… I just wash the blankets weekly or so and don’t stress too much about it.

              . . . The answers provided in this discussion are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or a qualified behaviorist.  


            • BZOO
              Participant
              327 posts Send Private Message

                Patience is key.  Boo was a shelter bun, picked up as a stray.  I can only imagine her fear when she was captured, let alone when she was trying to survive in the “wild”.

                It took about two years to really see a difference in how she felt about me.

                Now, she is still a no touch bun, but her fear of the world is gone.  Every night when it is time for their Sherwood digestive tablet, she comes running!

                Sherwood or Oxbow supplements work great for bribery treats!

                Oh, and I make sure to tell her how pretty she is every day!😁

                Even if you can’t get that really close bond, just be happy that they are in a stable and loving home.


              • LBJ10
                Moderator
                16821 posts Send Private Message

                  It really depends on the bunny. The others are correct. Some bunnies just take a REALLY long time to warm up to people. This can be the result of their past, or they simply have a skittish personality, or both. Rabbits are prey animals, so it is natural for them to fear us at least to some degree.

                  I don’t think you should give up. But I do think you should try mixing things up a bit. Maybe try doing other activities in their presence. Pretend they aren’t there. Then get up and leave the room. No trying to touch or pet. At meal times, hand feeding is a good bonding activity. It doesn’t have to be treats. They can be hand fed everything.

                  I’ve also had a lot of luck with introducing interactive toys. If they really enjoy the toy and have to get you to refill it, they will start to associate you with the good things that the toy brings.

              Viewing 5 reply threads
              • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

              Forum BEHAVIOR Another ‘My Rabbits Hate Me” post