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BINKYBUNNY FORUMS

Forum BONDING Bonding help pt. 2

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    • Wolfy
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      First date didn’t go well.
      – some nipping and lunging – okay, but Shadow was being aggressive with it and he “dug” at Zelda’s head twice. I’m not sure what he’s trying to tell her. The second time was because she tried to hump him.
      – humping, not much.
      – thumping, none.
      – chasing, none.
      – there was a brief groom standoff.

      Second date might’ve went a little better.

      I first got them stimulated to work for their food, then I removed the rug from the bathroom. They mostly ignored each other ( as they did yesterday twice ), Shadow would occasionally come by to sniff Zelda, to which she was preparing to lunge at him but nothing escalated. He did nip her a few times as he did yesterday. Because the floor wasn’t comfortable, Zelda mostly hung out next to the toilet but this caused a few small fights that I had to separate or place the dust pan between them and pet them to help calm any tension.

      Eventually, Shadow being the mama boy he is, came to my lap for snuggles and pets because he didn’t like the floor. Zelda joined but he didn’t care, likewise, Zelda had her turn and Shadow didn’t throw a fit about it — just checked out what was going on. I think overall it went better aside from the constant fits with the space next to the toilet which I’ll block during sessions going forward.

      What else can I do to help their sessions go better?


    • DanaNM
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      I think that sounds like it went pretty well all things considered!

      When i used to bond in my bathroom I had to block the toilet too!  Honestly I think the most important thing now is patience, and just keep going as you have been. If they are comforted by pets, then pet lots.

      If you want to keep posting about the sessions, feel free to do so in this same thread. It serve as sort of a journal to help track progress and make things easier to follow as you go through the process. 🙂

      . . . 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.  


    • Wolfy
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      Maybe but I don’t know about the third date. I felt like it went roughly as the first. There was mostly ignoring as I first tried to keep the rug removed from the bathroom but this really prompted Zelda to find a place to hide rather than interact. Lots of nipping and both getting annoyed each other / some boxing I think, along with some more fur pulling that was Zelda’s. No injuries as far as I’m concerned. This one was short due to having to make it in time for my other job, I did try to end it as they ignored each other. But when I got home, Zelda got out of her pen and there was some territorial behavior between them as I was trying to get her back in her pen. I don’t know if this is going to setback bonding.

      I’m not entirely sure if the bathroom is working out or if I should move them to a new location, but was told from another site that doing so will supposedly cause setbacks.


    • DanaNM
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      My rule of thumb is to give a certain set-up 2 or three dates to see how it goes. If it’s not working out (like you see zero signs of improvement), then it won’t hurt to move locations, as long as the new location is as neutral (or more neutral) than the original location. I actually think that working in different locations can help the bond be stronger, as it isn’t so place-specific.

      So if you feel the bathroom just isn’t working out, then trying out another neutral spot isn’t a bad idea.

       

      . . . 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.  


      • Wolfy
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        So I tried their fourth date — would’ve been their fifth if I did a session yesterday but didn’t have time — I don’t know how to go about it. We had it go on longer till it seemed they weren’t interested in each other.

        First was the usual deal, some nipping, a little fight, some chasing and grunting. At some point Shadow went to hump Zelda but I stopped it thinking he was fighting/attacking her. I had my mom with me to point out “isn’t that normal? He was biting/nipping on her neck and mounting her” I didn’t notice until I saw his rear end “thumping” like how they do humping, but it was a little too late to let him continue. I think he tried again and I stopped him again due to thinking it was a fight as this happened while he was chasing and nipping her. Eventually Zelda started hanging out in the corner of the pen ( the new set up for a different location ), she looked like she was planning a move but refrained from doing anything, again mostly ignoring each other or grooming / fluffing themselves.

        Is she learning that with her nipping or trying to hump, only to get him to tell her off that she isn’t going to be the dominant one? Is she waiting for him to make the move? I feel like it might be the case but I really don’t know and hope it isn’t that she’s becoming scared of him.

        On another note and unsure if I brought this up before in a different forum, but Zelda hasn’t really been touching her veggies lately. I got some comments from other forums saying she’s probably bored or not interested but I can’t imagine why all of sudden she’s turning her nose up at them. Shadow will chow down almost regardless of what’s included in it but she just doesn’t have that same excitement anymore. I tried changing it up, introduced raspberries and blackberries but she hasn’t touched those. She’ll take apples and bananas just fine. Then I started to try to find “new” veggies, so now I have kale, turnip greens, basil and spring mix lettuce but she still won’t touch it.


    • Wolfy
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      I’m planning on trying another in the bathroom now I’ll have more time, but I’ll clean it with white vinegar and hopefully get an x-pen to better block spots they’ll hide in and fight over. If that still goes poor, I’ll try to set them up in a small space using the x-pen in the living room. Both haven’t been in the back area of it, only Zelda has been in the front.

      if this doesn’t work either, I’ll try to take them to my parents house and work it out in the garage since it’s more neutral and more away from potential dangers compared to the one at my house but I’m concerned over stress as they will be in the car — they live 9-10 minutes away from me, and to try to do this everyday may be more difficult. I don’t have anyone else at my house to really help me until the weekend.


    • DanaNM
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      Regarding the fourth date, that doesn’t sound too bad! Not sure what will happen, but not fighting is good.

      About her not eating veggies: is her hay consumption good? Is she pooping normally? Bonding can be very stressful for rabbits, so it might be good to take a day or two off just to make sure she’s OK. If this has been a slow change, you might have her teeth checked out or a general checkup. You should make sure she’s healthy before continuing on.

      That sounds like a very good plan of attack (but see my comment about Zelda’s health).

      If you do end up going to your parent’s house, you could use the stress to your advantage and drive them over together in the same carrier or a bin (would be safest to have someone else drive so you can monitor them).

      I used to live in a really small apartment so I usually bonded at my friend’s house or the rescue, and would drive the buns over together.

      . . . 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.  


      • Wolfy
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        About Zelda: this happened way before we started bonding so I don’t think that has heavy connection but generally yes. She’s excited for hay, eats it normally, poops are normal. She’ll munch down on these feeds with different leaves and flowers we get from Happy Bunny Club. I was aiming to get them checked out before bonding but we don’t have many clinics who will see rabbits and I wanted to try before I moved into a new room as this will be completely neutral to them. The earliest our “main” clinic will see them is in December.. I’m trying to see if one of the doctors in a clinic I work at will give them a check up, so far no confirmation. Both have been relatively healthy. We did take a day off yesterday due to lack of time but still wasn’t overly interested in her veggies. I asked another site/forum if we could with the way bonding tends to go but was told it’s still a little too early.

        I did try to have their carriers next to each other while I drove to their house but the space where I could see them didn’t want to work with me. I’ll do stress methods like that as an absolute last resort if we’re not seeing an improvement.


    • DanaNM
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      I only mentioned having them in the carrier together because they have to drive anyway, which is the stressful thing. So I figure if you have to stress them anyway, may as well use it to your advantage. I don’t think that stressing should be the main way to bond, but I have found it to be really helpful to get past the plateaus that pairs sometimes get to. My first bond was really tough, they would fight immediately, but after a few car rides they could peacefully coexist in the bathroom and then we finally started making progress.

      . . . 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
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      Have you tried petting them when they are near each other?

      . . . 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.  


      • Wolfy
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        Yes.. I usually try to pet Zelda the most since she seems stressed out with Shadow picking on her.. but was told that he is determined to tell her he’s the boss and that she’s becoming submissive, hence why she doesn’t try anything.. I pet them both while they came up to me.. he nipped her a little bit there but ultimately ignored her.. then they went back to their usual thing..


    • DanaNM
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      Try not to get too caught up in who is dominant and who is submissive. In my experience that usually tends to set things back, because usually in the end it’s pretty hard to tell, and they will come to some sort of agreement. Just focus on doing things that prevent fights. If petting helps, then I like to pet a lot. You are only in the 5th date (if I read things correctly), so it’s still pretty early.

      Watching their interactions in the video, a larger space might help as well. With it so small, any attempt by one rabbit to run away sort of turns into circling because they don’t have anywhere to go. If the pen is in the same room where either rabbit has been (or within smelling range of their home areas), then that’s considered semi-neutral.

      . . . 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.  


      • Wolfy
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        I did try a larger space in trying the “free roam” bonding, but not much progress there either.. the one who was helping me with the process said they were “calmer,” but this was really due to having no steady footing and being in yet a new room they couldn’t care less for each other but would still pick on her. It was the same when I started out bonding in the bathroom with no barriers, the negative was the fights being caused because they wanted to claim the spot next to the toilet ( no litter boxes ) as their own. I could see how smaller spaces makes it more stressful in Zelda’s case who tends to feel like she has no where to go while Shadow is up her ass, literally. I amended their space during the 7th session ( second one of day ) and that could’ve more or less gone better..

        Lots of nipping or biting, and full pulling — all Zelda’s, rarely Shadow’s — Zelda trying to get away from him, then leading her to start thumping after these fits or them trying to work out who’s who in the relationship. Shadow did at one point had his head down when he was near her, I’d think asking her to groom him but got immediately annoyed when she didn’t.. I ended it once it seemed they were ignoring each other for a longer time and gave them lots of cuddles and pets.. the issue with a lot of the sessions is that I keep getting not to be interacting with their bonding so often although I want to make it less stressful and petting does help momentarily.. that’s why I feel stuck in their bonding, nothing I can do is something I can do comfortably because I’m short… I’m afraid of Shadow traumatizing Zelda from interacting with him to even interacting with other rabbits because he comes off as too aggressive. Nothing serves as a distraction for them..


    • DanaNM
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      I also just read your post on reddit and just want to echo the reply you got that bonding takes time. An “easy” bond usually takes about 2 weeks of daily sessions on average, and hard ones can take months. My shortest bonding was about a week of 24/7 marathoning, and my longest was 4 months (with a 5 day marathon at the end). They were all worth it, even though it was a lot of work. It’s also not always linear progress. Sometimes things seem like nothing is happening, and then suddenly a big improvement is made. So try not to dwell on worst case scenarios and just work with them when you can. Plan for it taking a long time, and then hopefully you will be pleased if things go quickly. As they say “expectations are just premeditated resentments”.  They’ll get there eventually!

      . . . 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.  


      • Wolfy
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        I know it takes time.. I don’t know, I feel like I might’ve gotten my hopes up too high when others who pre-bonded in the same way for as long as I had had excellent results with their bondings, meanwhile mine don’t/haven’t progressed much.. or that I’m doing everything wrong..


    • DanaNM
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      There are probably as many opinions on how to bond rabbits as there are people. And there is not 1 single way that works for each pair, so finding a method that you are comfortable with and that you feel is safe for your rabbits is important.

      I know with some of my pairs, I got really caught up in the very prominent advice online that said not to intervene too much, to use tiny spaces, etc, and I wasn’t having much luck at all (they would just fight right away). I ended up working with the lead at the rescue I started volunteering at, who’s been bonding rabbits for probably 40 years +, and she introduced me to the petting technique, and helped me with some very challenging bonds. She knows a lot about rabbit behavior and tries to do things as humanely as possible. For example, the technique you often see recommended on rabbit blogs of putting the rabbits in a tiny space 24/7 until they are bonded is known as “flooding” in the dog behavior world, and is widely accepted as inhumane. But we still see it recommended all over the place for rabbits.

      This is just a long winded way of saying that you aren’t doing everything wrong!  There isn’t just 1 way that they will become bonded. If you find something helps keep them calm and happy, keep doing that for now. Even if they aren’t interacting, any time they aren’t fighting builds trust and a positive association between them.

      . . . 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.  


      • Wolfy
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        I get a lot of people telling me to put down water.. I tried this when I was at my parents house but they ignored it and spilled it everywhere.. I tried it again with a bigger space and they couldn’t care less either…

        Same with food.. I put down hay during their second session of yesterday and didn’t care for it, they just made a mess with their scuffles / chases.. Zelda already hasn’t been touching her veggies so I didn’t expect her to be interested in them in the bonding area.. it even had pellets in it but same deal, doesn’t serve as a distraction.. can’t put toys that have food in it otherwise they’ll fight over it.. I might try to devote today’s sessions with just petting and maybe treats like banana and see if they’ll associate each other with good things.. or do this as long as I feel comfortable and then try again with a larger space.. as I feel that might be what they want since they get so stressed out in a smaller space..

        They’re fine when I pick them up together in trying to bring them into the space together.. they don’t fight over person which is good or it could be that generally picking them up stresses them out a little.. with the unsteady floors, they like to come up to me and sit in my lap.. no issues.. Shadow only nipped her a little but didn’t have a full out tantrum over who’s allowed to be on my lap.. so I’ll probably try to not to directly intervene but still sit with them as this serves as a comforter to them and I can easily interrupt fighting..


    • DanaNM
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      Yeah I personally don’t add water or food until sessions are at least a few hours long! It just makes a mess!

       

      . . . 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.  


      • Wolfy
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        Exactly. Especially when their sessions are 5-30 minutes long and eat immediately after / when they’re comfortable..

        After the vet visit, I sat them down on the table ( making sure they’re secure ) and just petted them.. I felt this was super positive since there was no scuffles, no chasing, a little bit of nipping but nothing that stressed Zelda out.. they bruxed, demanded for more and didn’t mind being cuddled together.. like literally next to each other.. I think Shadow wanted to groom her? But I don’t know to encourage it, or at least encourage Zelda to since that was what he was kinda asking for yesterday.. I tried the banana smear trick but neither cared for it..


    • DanaNM
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      That sounds very positive! That technique was written about in an older HRS article (https://rabbit.org/journal/4-4/tough-bonding.html), I think some people like to call it “bunny magic” or “smooshing”. 🙂

      Grooming can take some time, it really just depends on the bunnies. Some are really quick to groom, and others it might be the last thing you see in the process. But calm and relaxed behavior near each other is great!

      . . . 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.  


      • Wolfy
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        For Zelda’s health: we got them both seen yesterday and the vet didn’t see anything obvious. No injuries, no spurs in teeth, BAR, healthy weight.. they think GI inflammation is why Zelda won’t eat her veggies but I don’t think so.. it’s been weeks if not nearly a month she hasn’t touched them and she hasn’t declined but her poops still haven’t improved either despite eating Oxbow hay..

        I might’ve been giving them veggies too often or too much on top of the stress ( yesterday was super stressful with the vet visit and then grooming ) with bonding.. but we’ll confirm this with another vet.. right now it’s a pause on veggies and fruits for her.. should I also pause bonding until she’s good or will this set them back?


    • DanaNM
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      I think you know her best, and I would trust your gut. I often have coped with a feeling of being anxious and rushed with bonding. I’ve noticed that whenever I start to get that rushed feeling, I push the buns too hard, so now I try to intentionally slow down if I ever start getting that feeling. There is no harm in skipping a day or two if you just want to make sure she’s healthy (I’ve had to do this often).

      . . . 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.  


      • Wolfy
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        That might be my issue too.. I’m pushing them too much to get along because I feel like I have a “deadline” to do so — I was hoping I’d be able to change rooms in December, meaning more time to take it slow but no, seems like the end of the month is when we’ll be making the change — or because of my interventions, they can’t exchange what they’re trying to tell each other properly.. but yeah.. we did a day off yesterday, I let Zelda run around in the living room and was active as she usually is.. afterwards she did some zoomies in her pen and played / humped her plushie and chewed on some of her toys. I will be getting her checked out by another vet somewhere next week to rule out GI inflammation..

        Same with Shadow.. I let him run around and he was just playing with my sheet and binkying and zooming all over.. I do feel better just doing the petting ones since there’s no “aggressive” acts, Shadow couldn’t care less that he’s near her, light nipping, she isn’t stressed out.. this might be our “re-bond”..


    • DanaNM
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      That sounds like a nice day off. Sometimes those days are nice for us humans too!

      . . . 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.  


    • Ginger&Seal
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      Hi, have you tried spraying them with water whenever they go and bite each other? I honestly couldn’t get my two pairs to bond for the life of me so I took them to this nice couple the rescue referred to me. And pretty much what did they had them in a small area and spray the aggressor, so I guess she associates the biting with being sprayed. Eventually, she learned and stopped biting, but they still kept them in a small area and gradually opened up the space.

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Forum BONDING Bonding help pt. 2