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Forum BONDING Bonding a trio HELP

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    • bunny100
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        Hello,

        Buns: Louis (M) and Melanite (F) have been bonded for 4 years.
        Sierra (F) single bunny that is very anxious.

        1st bonding attempt was 9 months ago which led to a fight with injury between Melanite and Sierra which ended out attempt of bonding the trio. I recently started trying to bond them again.

        Pre-bonding – I set up their pens next to each other in the garage for 2 1/2 weeks and switch the bunnies every two days. They stopped showing aggressive behaviors for a week before I moved to in-person dates.

        First date20-minute session in the kitchen with food scattered around and litterbox with hay. Melanite humped Sierra and Sierra continued to eat food and allowed this to happen. About 15min into the session Sierra nipped Louis and he jumped in the air, I intervened with an oven mitt. No fur pulling. Louis then tried to nip Sierra back but I stopped that before it happened. We ended the session with treats and I put them back in the prebonding area.

        Second date: About 25-minute session with food again and a litterbox with hay. Melanite continued to hump Sierra while Sierra ate. Then about 10min into the session Melanite flopped next to Sierra. Then a few minutes later, Sierra put her face into Melanite’s side and nipped her twice which caused Melanite to try to nip back. I intervened before Melanite had contact with Sierra. (No fur pulling). Sierra then tried to nip Louis which he let go and hopped away. I ended the session again with treats.

        Third date: About 20-minute session with food again and a litterbox with hay. This time Melanite humped more aggressively and I had to gently push her off because Sierra seemed anxious. All the bunnies seemed more on edge but unsure why. Louis and Sierra had a grooming battle (heads pressed together) and Sierra nipped Louis on the head once (I put a mitt in between) then she nipped a second time which made Louis very upset. Louis started trying to lunge/chase Sierra. I kept putting my mitt in between them and gently pushed Louis away but he kept attempting to run at Sierra over and over no matter how many times I tried to redirect him. I was finally able to pet him and tried to calm him down. Sierra kept trying to get close to Louis but I didn’t allow her to get too close. After I stopped petting Louis he would try to run at Sierra again. I tried to give them all treats at the end of this session but it feels like a big set back. I had to stop the date early and I tried to deescalate the situation and give them treats at the end but I feel like I did something wrong.

        What advice does anyone have? Thanks!


      • DanaNM
        Moderator
        8960 posts Send Private Message

          So, disclaimer is that I have not successfully bonded a trio. 🙁 I have 2 failed trio attempts and one failed quad, but all attempts involved the same two girls that were just not having it. So take my advice with a grain of salt! But I have bonded many pairs successfully lol

          How big is the bonding area? I’ve always found that litter boxes can cause issues, and sometimes treats can make the buns overly excited, so I usually don’t have any food down for the short initial dates.  I also have always had better luck with large spaces, and Margo DiMello of the San Diego HRS always uses HUGE spaces to bond trios and groups (think like 3 x-pens linked up). The idea is that if one bun nips the other, if there is no space to move away from the other it can escalate to a fight because there is no way for them to de-escalate things themselves. So if you are using very small spaces, you might consider trying a larger space. It also seems like people who bond in small spaces often have issues when trying to transition to larger spaces later on.

          Have you tried any stressing with them? With tougher bonds I have had good luck with doing a short car ride together first, followed by a short date in a large space.

          I think the petting you’ve been doing to calm them is good, you can do more petting when they request grooming to help boost some positive feelings between them.

          Overall I think the main advice is to remove the food for now, keep working with them, and keep preventing fights as you have been. If you feel things are getting worse or stagnating, experiment with the size of the space and maybe try adding a car ride before.

          . . . 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.  


        • bunny100
          Participant
          2 posts Send Private Message

            Hello,

            Thank you for your response. The bonding area is the kitchen and I have two litterboxes and a forging mat. I have noticed that Sierra is very anxious. She always has been (came from a shelter and the shelter said she may have been abused due to how she came to them.)

            Fourth Date: About 45 minutes this time with food and two litterboxes. I did not use treats at the end of the date this time. Melanite only mounted a couple of times. It was a lot less aggressive than the third date. Sierra seemed anxious but not as bad as before. I prevented any of Sierra’s nips by just placing my mitt between the bunnies if she appeared anxious and was pressing her face against the other buns body.

            Louis was noticeably more nervous this date and would hide behind the litterbox and peek at Sierra with the comfort of the litterbox to “protect” him. I didn’t force him to come out but he spent most of the time staring at Sierra and having his ears forward. The date ended without any scuffles.

            Fifth Date: About 1 hour and 10 minutes. No aggression this time, no mounting. Everyone was eating and Louis did some territory poops but seems a lot more calm. Melanite flopped next to Sierra about 3 times and Louis flopped once. Sierra still seems scared but not as bad as yesterday. I think it is going well! When I put them all back in their pre-bonding area they flop next to each other through the barrier. Louis still is avoiding Sierra but not as much as the 4th date.

            Thank you so much for the advice!


          • DanaNM
            Moderator
            8960 posts Send Private Message

              I would try removing the litter boxes! I’ve found they can cause some territorial disputes early on. I usually wait to add them until sessions get long to add litter boxes. I either do nothing on the floor or pee pads.

              . . . 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 Bonding a trio HELP