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Forum BONDING Bonded pair: one becoming aggressive?

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    • namy_namy
      Participant
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        Hi,

        We adopted a second bun (male) about 10 months ago. The bonding process went smoothly with our original girl, who is more shy and probably the submissive one. We followed all the recommended bonding steps, and within a month or so they were living together full time. Grooming, snuggling, eating together etc. They have never fought. He has always been very outgoing and social with us, loves pets etc. We gave him a week to settle in with us, but he seemed pretty comfortable right away; I saw him binky within an hour of being home.

        For the past couple weeks however, we have started to notice aggressive behaviour coming from him. For example, when I get their treats out and they both come running up to me, he will immediately run at her aggressively and she will go hide instead of taking a treat. Sometimes I see him go “apologize” to her after though. And with us he is becoming a bit nippy or will growl when we do something he doesn’t like (grooming etc.).

         

        Any advice? How concerned should I be about their bond? thanks.

         

         


      • Wick & Fable
        Moderator
        5764 posts Send Private Message

          Food aggression is not unheard of in bonded pairs– some rabbits get especially tunnel-visioned and “crazed” around food. In some cases, the best course of action is a short separation barrier during feeding presentation times and then just removing the barrier once the food is consumed. Also, trying to cut down on the anticipatory energy is helpful, so if there is a routine you follow, sounds that happen, time you always feed, etc., those are all things rabbits readily learn and will generate that anticipatory energy (that often just keeps rising until they get the food for a certain period).

          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.


          • namy_namy
            Participant
            13 posts Send Private Message

              ok, thanks! And that makes sense, it’s mostly a problem when we are doing trick training (so he is definitely anticipating treats). I tried training them separately this morning, keeping him in the carrier at first, but he was even more aggressive towards her when I let him out for him time. She is unfortunately harder to handle and get into the carrier.

               

              So now I’m not sure. Should I stop training them?


          • DanaNM
            Moderator
            8839 posts Send Private Message

              Agree that food aggression happens in some pairs. I have a pair where I am dealing with this as well.

              I think it would be good to do some trials of different things to see if you can reduce aggression after training, but if it’s just causing problems it may not be worth the stress. With my two, I try to make a point to wait until they are calm (or at least not actively aggressive) before giving the food to make sure I’m not unintentionally rewarding the aggression. I basically just ignore them until they stop.

              One thing I’ve considered training but haven’t tried is to train the aggressive bun to go to a mat for their treat. You could even train each bun to go to a dif mat, so that they directed that energy towards something constructive.

              Rather than putting one bun in a carrier, can you just wall off one area with an x-pen to work with them individually?

              . . . 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.  


            • namy_namy
              Participant
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                Hi again. Just wanted to update this. The problem has unfortunately been getting worse. I stopped with the training since it was stressing me out, and found a “safe” way to give them treats together. I found that if they are foraging together, he is not as aggressive and they can both get treats.

                 

                Lately he has also been aggressive towards her while I am petting him, and he won’t let me pet her at all. It’s gotten so bad that she seems to anticipate him lunging at her and so she won’t let me pet her anymore, even if I have separated them.

                sometimes I see her randomly bolt to her favourite hidey house and he chases her.

                the chasing has never escalated, but sometimes results in fur pulling.

                they do still snuggle and groom.


              • DanaNM
                Moderator
                8839 posts Send Private Message

                  Ahh that’s too bad. 🙁

                  The aggression around petting is concerning, but it’s good that it doesn’t escalate and she has a safe hide to retreat to. Just to cover all the bases, have there been any changes in your household or any changes in the bun’s health?

                  I’ve never heard of this happening around training, but I’m wondering if perhaps he could have started to associate you with getting rewarded often, and so is anticipating treats all the time?

                  I think stopping training was a good move. I would even take it a step farther and stop giving all treats. With my food aggressive bun, I also tried to reduce any “anticipation time” or cues that food is about to arrive and I stick to a pretty tight routine with meal times.

                   

                  . . . 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.  


                • namy_namy
                  Participant
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                    Ah maybe you’re onto something.. I said “treats” but really it’s just normal pellets (oxbow) that they go nuts over. I sprinkle about a tablespoon or so in their foraging mat a few times a day. I could try to adhere to a stricter feeding schedule for the pellets, maybe just once a day after their breakfast salad. I usually also give them actual treats 1-2/wk but could try stopping for a while to see if it helps.


                  • DanaNM
                    Moderator
                    8839 posts Send Private Message

                      Ah, gotcha! Yeah I think the foraging mat is probably good but may restrict it to just one serving a day and see how that goes?

                      . . . 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.  

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                  Forum BONDING Bonded pair: one becoming aggressive?