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The session was good again today. 10 minute session
— started the session off with force snuggles, her head was on top of his, his under her. After a minute I stopped petting and let them figure out there next move.
— she moved away and was very relaxed, he ended up following her and going face to face with her. He flatted his head down, lower then hers. I’m Assuming he is asking her to groom him?
—they sat there for 8 minutes!! She did this weird thing where she would stick out of tounge (almost look like she was licking her lips). I couldn’t tell what she was doing. I think she was licking the towel, it was very close to him but never made contact.
— the final minute she walked off, making sure her butt Right by his face, he had no reaction to that. Which I’m assuming is good.
— I treated them with a treat after this, he ate his quicker then her, and actually went over by her to steal her treat. She had no reaction to that.
So I have a few question. Would it be a good idea to try going an hour over the weekend? Also I’m going on a trip soon, where they will be boarded for 6 nights. The place I’m bringing them too, said they can try giving them the same exercise time. Since it will be on neatural ground, do you think that would be a good idea? Or should I just tell them to give them separate time.
I’m just scared my progress will be lost because of them having no bonding session for 6 nights. ( they will still be side by side in cages, where they can see each other)
Sounds very positive! And good job ending on a positive note!
I would work up more slowly to an hour. Try for 20 min next, then 30, etc. It can be tempting to move too quickly when things are going well, so it helps to have a plan.
I wouldn’t have the boarding place do any sessions with them… too risky. But, it would be nice if they can house them next to each other, and maybe even do some litter box swaps to keep up with the pre-bonding.
Don’t stress too much about the little break from sessions, it shouldn’t set you back much, or at all. It would be far worse though, if a fight broke out because the person watching them wasn’t versed in bonding and didn’t know what to do (or even stepped away for a couple of seconds).
I went ahead and told the boarding place not to have them out at the same time. I asked them to switch a doll back in forth from their cages everyday. So I went ahead and tried a 15 minute session today, I didn’t want to do 20, kinda wanted to test the waters before moving to 20.
— started off with force snuggles for two minutes. Today she put her head under him.
— I then let them pick again where they wanted to go. She walked away first, and he moved a bit to. She then came back, nipped him (he had no reaction) They then did a circle and then smashed their heads together face to face again. I petted them a lot during this.
— she did the weird tounge thing again. It never made contact though. She also did this weird thing where she was moving her mouth on his head, but it wasn’t nipping, and it wasn’t gromming. It kinda looked like when a rabbit purrs. (The chomping thing they do) she just did it all over his cheek for about 30 seconds.
— she walked off more today, but bun bun kept moving towards her and shoving his head down in front of him. I think he really wants her to groom him.
—About 10 minutes into the session, I was tired of sitting on my legs, so I shifted at a more comfortable position. Well without realizing, I had blocked area for her to walk away from him. A minute after me moving she moved away from him, well she was blocked from me, and I tried moving myself real quick, but Bun Bun followed her, and shoved his head under her butt. She did not like this at all, she was basically stuck between a wall, him, and me. So she reacted by making grunt sound, turning around and tried biting him, but missed because he moved real quickly and tried biting her. So before things got out of hand, I moved her over, and tried calming them down.
— I tried to let them go back after this but he instantly went to get a bite on her again, so once again I scooted him over and gave them a treat to munch on near each other. I petted them while they ate to calm them down. They calmed down after this.
—I ended he session with force snuggles. When I went to pick her up(so I can go and move her to her cage) he actually started grooming himself.
So question is, do you think they are still okay? Was it because she felt trapped that she reacted like that? Or was it because maybe they are not ready for 15 minutes? Is it okay for them to not groom each other yet? He just seems so determine for her to groom him.
In terms of if they are “okay”, yes, this all sounds like normal parts of the bonding process. Early sessions like this can get tense from time to time, especially if one feels cornered or trapped. That’s why I tend to go for larger spaces.
Your job is to help them safely build trust, which means preventing things from escalating to full on fighting. So yes, you did the right thing by intervening when they started to get nippy.
I would try standing, and only crouching when you are petting so you are more out of their way. When they start getting nippy, try to get out of the habit of physically pushing them apart. You can try a loud noise (clapping, yelling, banging on something, running the vacuum cleaner), or pressing them down and petting (you can rotate them so they are side by side). Sometimes just petting is enough. You basically want them to either decide to stop fighting on their own (due to something scary happening), or realize if they come near the other bun good things happen (pets and grooms).
Him asking for her to groom is a dominance display. If she grooms, it means she is submitting. She might eventually, or she might not, but she definitely won’t do it until he has proven himself (whatever that means? but usually once he has proven that he is trustworthy). At this point it’s too early to tell who will be dominant, but it’s definitely normal that she hasn’t groomed him yet. Now is when you just have to keep having patience. Bonding tends to progress in big steps, rather than a slow gradual improvement, so it’s normal to have several sessions in a row where it seems like nothing is progressing.
Thanks! I’ll try that next time. I was wondering if you think it would be okay if I didn’t do a session today. My cat eye was all red this morning, so I been at the vet and I’m pretty stress. I’m a little worried it might affect the session. Do you think it would be okay if I took a break for a day? I’ll probably do a session early in the morning.
Yep that’s fine, no need to stress.
So my cat still has problems with her eye, so I didn’t have a lot of time to do a session today. I decided 5 minutes was better then nothing. I think the bunnies are picking up on the tension in the house.
— I started with force cuddling which they were fine.
— I then let them move and pick where they wanted to go, across they went right to be face to face. Bun bun had his head more on her side today. After two minutes of this, she ended up nipping him, and he started to make a lot of grunt sounds after this, but did not attack. My family member who was helping me, was talking about stressful stuff that happened today, so I think they both picked up on that. Their schedule has been a little off this week as well.
— after this I put them back in a force cuddle to calm them down, they once again were fine during this. Actually very relaxed. I also had the family member stop talking about how stressful this week has been. Lol
— at 5 minutes I gave them a treat near each other, once again they were fine.
So I think I ended it on a good note. I honestly probably should have given it another day, for the tension in the house to calm down. Tomorrow I’ll try again, but I think I’m going to give them a bigger space. As I think she isn’t caring for the medium size space. Might help calm things down a bit with a new space to explore.
Do you think I should try adding hay? They seem to be in this grooming faceoff and I wondering if that is also frustrating them. Bun bun seemed very ticked off when he got nipped instead of groomed.
Buns definitely do pick up on tension in their humans! That and distracted humans :p
All of this sounds very normal. There will be lots of face-offs, but it’s good it’s not escalating to anything other than grunting and light nipping. Just try to be patient, as bunny communication is subtle and can take time. It helps to remember what you are asking them to do, it’s basically an arranged marriage. If you met a stranger on the street, it would probably take a while for you to feel comfortable asking them to move in with you.
Bigger and new spaces can all help, so feel free to experiment with different types of spaces, as long as they are all still very neutral.
Hay can also be nice, as eating is a social activity in rabbits. I usually opt for a large pile in the center of the bonding space, so no bun gets cornered while eating.
I wasn’t able to do a session yesterday, got home late and was tired. Figured it was best I didn’t do a session half asleep. Lol. The session today lasted 10 minutes. I moved them in a new space, which they seem to like.
— Bunnie sat in the corner a little unsure. I petted her a lot to comfort her. Bun bun was next to my leg, doing the same thing she was.
— she finally started moving and Bun Bun rushed for her and shoved his head under hers. I petted them a lot during this, she seemed a little shocked when he did this, so I petted them to keep things calm.
— this lasted for 6 minutes. At 4 minutes I treated them, he tried to steal her treat but failed.
— the rest of the session was them in a groom stand off. Bun bun head under her. No nipping.
All sounds normal. I think at this point, start to ease off a bit with immediately rushing to pet. Still be right there , ready to pet, but start waiting a couple seconds to see what happens. You can also start trying to increase the length of sessions.
I’ll try 15-20 minutes today. I was actually thinking last night maybe I should lay off petting, just to see what happens. She hasn’t put her head down to request grooming, does that mean she doesn’t really care for dominance? Or just is ready to do that? I keep waiting for her to do it back, but she just lets him do it every time.
Hard to say, it might be that she isn’t necessarily wanting to be dominant, but she doesn’t trust him enough to groom him. At this point it’s hard to know how it will turn out.
You can also try starting off with some petting, and then when they settle in lay off a bit. You can gauge whether they seem tense or on edge and go from there.
I actually did start with petting. Figured I start off by having them relaxed. Session was 16 minutes, I petted less today. I’ll pet less tomorrow, today was testing the waters.
— started session with force cuddles. I gave them a lot of control, was very relaxed with my hands and even gave 20 seconds of no petting.
— I then let them pick where they wanted to go, once again bun bun went straight to shove his head under her, but this time she actually went straight for him as well. I petted them at first, then I went to a more relaxed petting ( petting their body only)
— they did well with this, until she decided to nip him twice. I said “no” very loudly, and she stopped and calm down.
— petted them for about 30 seconds, then gave them 30 seconds with no petting. I did this for about 5 minutes. When I wasn’t petting, she just moved her head around, away, or moved it further on top of his head. He would just stay still, or push his head further under her.
— she did that weird lick the air again. She stuck her tounge out for a few seconds with a licking motion, but it never made contact. Her mouth was also moving on his head at one point, kinda of look like she was giving him kisses. It was a weird movement.
— at 11 minutes I gave them a treat. They both stopped what they were doing and went for the treat. He got done quicker than her, and he just walked around, waiting for her to be done. When she was done he quickly went back over to her, once again she did the same.
— for the last 5 minutes, his head was under her, and her head on top of his. I petted at first but then I did the 30 second thing again. I did they for a minute, and than I increased the time to a minute. So I would pet for 30 seconds, then give them a minute with no petting. They had the same reaction as before, just this time they kept moving their heads further down. The last minute I could barely see his head anymore. I ended the session with their nose against each other.
Yep, i think continue on with the plan of petting less and increasing the session length.
So this session was very interesting compared to the last couple ones. The groom stand off continues. Session lasted 15 minutes, as it was a little more tensed today.
— started off with force snuggles for 2 minutes. They were very relaxed during this, more relaxed than before.
— I then let them go where they wanted too, this time instead of only being faced to faced, they stayed right next to each other, with his head under her and her her head on top. She then moved her head under his, which lasted for about 10 seconds before he moved his head under her. She quickly moved her head back under him. They went back in forth 3 more times until he tried moving his head back on top of her. She responded by nipping under his head. I actually thought she was licking him, since he was still very relaxed, but then he jerked his head back so I said “no” loudly.
— he did end up trying to nip her and her trying to get him, I just kept saying no and having my helper clap. They stopped and calm down right away. I petted them a good bit after this to calm things down. Once they calmed down, Bun Bun went back to putting his head under her. This time their bodies were not touching just their heads.
— I petted their heads for a minute. Then just petted their backs for 30 seconds. Then I went to a minute of no petting. 50 seconds in she decided to nip his face and grunt, I responded to saying “no” loudly. She then just pulled her head back and he just stayed still.
— she moved her head a lot, acting like she was going to place it back under his/top of his. But never did.
— I ended the session with force snuggles, which she did try to nip him but wasn’t able to cause the weird angle. They force cuddles for the last 3 minutes.
So this is my last day of bonding before my trip. They will have no bonding session for 5 days but will still be next to each other in cages, and having a doll switched. My question is, do you think she got frustrated because he kept moving his head back under hers?
Sounds like they are both vying for dominance (putting their heads down). Try not to intervene with light nipping and grunting unless it starts escalating. This is how they will set boundaries and communicate. It sounds like they are fairly calm, which is good.
Once you get back you can try increasing session length and intervening less. You can also try starting off with a stress session (like a car ride together) to see if that helps.
Will do! I’m slowly started to have a little more trust with them, I’m intervening a lot less then when I first started. I plan on intervening less when I get back. This upcoming thanksgiving break will give me more time to spend bonding them. I plan on going to 20 minutes next session. Do you think when I get back I should try 20 minutes session twice a day? And with both of them trying to get dominance, do you think one will give in soon?
So I got my bunnies back yesterday from the boarding place. I was not happy at all of the condition of my bunnies. I got home and checked them for fleas, i just wanted to make sure they didn’t get any. No fleas! But I found bite marks on my boy rabbit. Three in total. Nothing serious. I then proceeded to check her and found that she had patches of fur ripped out, with one bite mark.
I called the place horrified and asked if they let them out together, and she swears none of the workers did, and proceeding to blame my cage set up, even though they had 6 inches of cage between them (I have also been using this setup since day one and never had that happened). May I add there there is also three layers of fence between them, small checker board style
They are still acting normal living next to each other, but my question is, do you believe they let them out together, and if you do, where do you think they stand? I plan on trying a session Friday. The bite marks were not nearly as bad as when they had that fight weeks ago.
Jeez, how awful
Hard to say what happened, but you are probably right in that they were either let out together, or with other bunnies? I would be furious….
Do the bite marks have broken skin?
If not, you are prob fine to try a session. If they seem more aggressive than before, it might be wise to take a break and let them calm down.
Poor babies, it’s lucky they are OK otherwise
I just can’t believe some people…. >
There was no other rabbits there, so it couldn’t have been that. So that is good. The place has had rabbits before and had great reviews so I’m confused on what happened. She also told me maybe it was stress. -.- which honestly made me even more furious, cause why would a bunny bite his own bum? I don’t even think he can reach that area real well.
The bites did scab, but I do not think they broke the skin where he was bleeding. The bites on both of them seemed very fresh, so I’m assuming the event had just happened. His bites were on his bottom and leg. Her bite and fur pulling was also on her bottom. That also just seemed weird to me. Last time they got in a fight their bites were aimed for the neck and front legs. So I guess at least their bites are not there.
They are okay, her behavior does seem a bit off. I posted on the behavior forum. Last night she tried biting me when I went to pet her, and she adores being petted. I might give them a few more days. I feel so horrible that this whole thing happened. Hoping things will still work out though. They seemed to be making progress before I left.
Yeah would probably be good to give them some time to settle down and relax again. I know my buns were giving me the bunny butt for a few days after going to a pet sitter’s place, even though I know she took great care of them.
Update: I am so upset by this whole event. I ended up finding more wounds on Bun Bun because they have all formed a hard scab. He has in total 7, one drew blood. He also has fur pulled as well. She only had two but so much fur is pulled out from her. I’m so upset by this. I ended up filing a report against the place.
My question is, where do I go from here? They are still living side by side, they don’t show any aggression through the gate (in fact they seem more in sync with each other then before. She is laying more against the gate between them too, head facing him).
I’m still giving them a break from bonding, I am just so upset with this. I was really hoping to have them bonded by Christmas, or at least near it.
I’m so sorry how stressful for all of you. I guess you don’t really know what happened, are you sure it couldn’t have happened from another animal? It’s all so weird and awful.
I think in this case you need to trust your gut. If it doesn’t feel right to you continue for now, then trust that instinct (I’m getting the sense from you that it might be best to wait a bit). I think sometimes having a deadline for when you want them bonded can cause problems with bonding, as you might push past something you shouldn’t. Ultimately the safety of the buns is most important, and if one is recovering from an injury, it could prevent them from forming a strong bond.
More prebonding isn’t a bad thing, nor is enjoying some holiday down time without stressing about bonding, especially given all that they’ve been through.
The bites look very similar to the bite marks they got when they had that fight in my room a few weeks ago. There were only dogs there at the boarding place, and the bunnies had their own room. I would really hope it wasn’t another animal. Im kinda a mixed of wanting to try again, but also not really wanting too. They seem like everything is fine living side by side, but then again who knows. The deadline of Christmas isn’t a strict deadline, it just would have been nice. I’m going to wait for their wounds to heal completely before trying again. Once they are heal I’ll try a short session and see what happens. In the meantime I’ll continue switching cages, litter, and dolls.
I did a bonded session a few days after their fight in my room and they were completely fine with each other, so maybe it willl he the same way once their wounds have healed. Hoping for the best. I’ll keep you updated.
That sounds like a very good plan.
Give them some extra nose rubs for me