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Forum BONDING Bonding Advice, please? Super passive male and aggressive female

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    • Po Bunny
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        My male, Po, is VERY passive and pretty much ignores the female, Truffle. Truffle, however, hisses/growls and lunges at Po multiple times a day.

        Here’s what I’ve tried so far:

        • I keep Truffle in the guest room and Po in ours with the doors open and a gate that separates them in the hallway (about 3 inches in between so she can’t bite him). They ignore each other most of the day, but she will hiss/growl, lunge, and try to bite him if he puts his nose through the gate. He doesn’t move and doesn’t even seem to realize what’s happening.

        • Face-to-face dates: I tried face-to-face dates in a neutral area for 20 minutes and slowly moved up to 4 hours at my longest. They ignore each other most of the time, but Truffle will eventually hiss/growl and lunge at Po, which I stop. From then on, he is extremely nervous and will just sit in the corner shaking. She will continue to eat and will come near him, again, randomly hissing and lunging, trying to bite him. I stop this.
        • Pre-bonding: I have now moved Truffle’s enclosure (6×4 space) into our room (Po’s territory) to see if it will help her be less territorial. Po is still ignoring her (does not care she’s in his space) while she is still growling at him if he comes near the same way. He will lay by the cage and groom toys that smell like her, so he seems to like her.
        • Face-to-face dates: I took a break for a while because I had a couple of trips, and I’m now slowly doing face-to-face dates again in a new neutral area. I’m starting with 30-minute sessions. The same thing is happening, but Po seems slightly less scared and Truffle has once laid down (kind of) next to him. However, as soon as he moved (to groom himself) she growled and lunged. She growls and lunges anytime he makes a movement – even though he has never been aggressive or come near her.

        What do I do!?!? I just want her to realize he means no harm!!</p>
        TLDR; Passive free roam male, aggressive nhew female – how do I do?


      • DanaNM
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        8839 posts Send Private Message

          Aww those type of pairings can be very frustrating, but the good news is it’s better than 2 aggressive buns! What’s the timeline here? How long have you had Truffle? And just confirming both are spayed/neutered for at least 3 weeks? It’s important to remember that aggression is based out of fear. Even though Po has been passive, Truffle is in a new place so it’s normal for her to feel some fear.

          I think my top recommendation is to switch up the housing. You made the right call by moving Truffle’s pen into Po’s room. I would go one step further and get a second pen and house  Po right next to Truffle with a nip-proof barrier (either a buffer of 6 inches or small mesh panels). I’m not 100% sure of the timeline here, but I would allow them to get used to this set-up for at least a few days or a week. Then start swapping which bun is in which pen each day or two. Let each bun have free-roam time, I like to let one bun have free roam in the morning and the other in the evening. Again you have to make sure the fencing is nip-proof, so you can add an x-pen to create a buffer or use small mesh panels.

          I recommend you pause face to face dates and keep up the side-swapping until  Truffle is no longer reacting aggressively towards Po while they are in their pens. If you notice she is REALLY freaking out about this arrangement, you can add a towel or sheet as a visual barrier between them and then slowly remove it. That will help her get used to his scents first. You can also pet them both and swap scents. Some people like to add a stuffy to each pen as well for that reason.

          Once both buns are relaxed with the side swapping you can resume the dates in neutral space. I think a larger space would be better for this pair, so Truffle won’t feel as threatened by Po moving a round slightly, as she will have more space to move (and he will be able to move away from her if needed).

          . . . 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.  


          • Po Bunny
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              Thank you SOOO much, and I read your other message as well.

              I’ve had Truffle since June 17th. Both have been spayed and neutered! Truffle has been spayed for 3 weeks before I got her from the rescue.

              This is so helpful as everything I read online is different, and doesn’t seem to be working for me – especially the smaller face-to-face.

              I’ll definitely keep Truffle in my room with Po and then have them take turns free-roaming. I hope she eventually sees that he means no harm. She’s probably still stressed from a new-ish environment as well.

              I just want them to get along! Po grooms all the toys that smell like Truffle, but is scared of her. 🙁 I hope she learns he is no harm soon!


            • DanaNM
              Moderator
              8839 posts Send Private Message

                That sounds like a good plan!

                Yes I’ve found small spaces are not helpful when one bun is very aggressive and fearful. I think with some more time she will come around! I think you could also try a stuffy that you swap between pens (I use dog toys that are vaguely rabbit shaped haha). Get Po’s scent all over it and then give it to Truffle to investigate. She may attack it at first, but that can help her get some aggression out.

                . . . 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.  


            • DanaNM
              Moderator
              8839 posts Send Private Message

                Oh, I also wanted to add, that grunting, hissing, lunging in bonding sessions are not necessarily bad as she is communicating with him. Hard biting should be stopped, as well as things that tend to escalate to fighting, but if she is just growling and lunging I would let it happen.

                The fact that Po is not retaliating is great, that means that eventually Truffle will learn that his isn’t a threat and she will hopefully calm down.

                My previous advice still applies though, I just wanted to add that tidbit!

                . . . 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 Advice, please? Super passive male and aggressive female