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Home Page Forums HOUSE RABBIT Q & A Bunny Harnesses a bad idea?

This topic contains 23sd replies, has 13,475 voices, and was last updated by  Moonlight_Wolf 9 years, 11 months ago.

Viewing 24 posts - 1 through 24 (of 24 total)
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  • whit
    5 posts Send Private Message

    Today was a pretty scary day for little Timothy and me. I just got him about a month ago so we’re still learning. I got him a little harness with a leash so we could go outside and he could run and i could try to keep up. I had all these pleasant thoughts about the two of us just running through feilds in the sun and it seemed like such a great idea.

    Well I gave him some food to munch on while I clipped on the harness and made sure it was fairly loose so it wouldn’t hurt him.   =[[2… (that  was him just walking across the keyboard lol) but anyways, he didn’t seem to mind. In fact, I don’t even think he was aware that it was there at first. So I clipped on the leash and decided to guide him to the door. Not so easy.  He sure isn’t a dog.

    He kept trying to jump out of it and it would yank him back. This scared me and I didn’t want him to get hurt so I let go. He was well aware of it’s presence now and proceeded to run around  and around, bouncing off of stairs, chairs and couches. it was cute at first but It began to grow obvious he was not happy with this thing. My dad thought he was running into things and didn’t want him to get hurt so he picked him up and tried to get it off.

    Before he could get it all the way off, Timmy just went nuts, flipped out of his hands and ran into the nearby stairway. He then bolted the opposite way and began doing furios circles so that the leash got caught around my dads ankle and kept pulling him every time he tried to jump so he would just flip around. It happened so quickly and we were trying to break him free of this terrible thing but he was panicking and making it extremely hard. the leash got so tangled that he was going beserk. This is when I hear the worst noise ever. He sounded like he was screaming. I started to cry I was so scared and I couldn’t do anything but hope he stopped for even 2 seconds so we could get it off. I told my Dad to just let him run away and he can stop.

    Finally that worked. He calmed down enough to get the thing off of him but after that he wouldn’t let us go near him. It makes me sick just thinking about that moment and I am never going to try to put that ridiculous thing on him again. I thought I was going to lose him. Maybe I am overreacting but I wasn’t even aware that he could make a sound and I was worried he would not be the same considering it must have been a truamatizing experience. Luckily, it seems like he’s forgotten all about it now and hes doing his normal rabbit things just 2 hours later but I feel like the worst person ever for having that happen. 

    I know that was a really long story but I would like to see what anyone has to say about that kind of issue? Or have any advice about what I may have done wrong. regardless, i most likely will steer clear of that leash forever. I can’t even look at it right now.

    10511 posts Send Private Message

    Some bunnies don’t do well with the whole harness thing. i think if you do want to continue with the harness, put it on him for only a few minutes each day, petting him and giving him a treat when he has it on so he knows its ok. Then take it off. Don’t try going for a walk until he is completely comfortable with it.

    16036 posts Send Private Message

    We’ve seen this thing happen time and time again. It sounds like you’ve made up your mind, but for anyone else reading, I would caution against using a harness at all. A collar can be equally dangerous.

    FORTUNATELY, you were in the house at the time and were able to get it off and he is okay. Rabbits can break legs or backs when they panic like that, or if you had taken him outside immediately, he could have slipped out of it and been gone.

    The scream is a very scary sound. Does he seem to be okay now? :o(

    18884 posts Send Private Message

    I’m sorry that happened to you – I know that was scary.

    I do totally agree with you on the harness thing – had the same thing happen with my first rabbit and it made me feel bad.

    I don’t take any of my rabbits outside anyway – it’s too dangerous out there. A rabbit scream is the saddest thing ever too – I’ve heard it a few times and it’s not something you easily forget.

    Sage Cat
    1883 posts Send Private Message

    My buns do have a harness – it is an occasional thing that they go outside.
    I did what Monkey Bun suggested – I put the harness on them, without the leash, for a little while for a few days till they got use to it.

    Probably when he started to move around he realized he was restricted and then he wanted to try to get it off. Then he got scared.
    I’m sure he will be okay. Keep an eye on him to make sure he is not sore from running around.

    12108 posts Send Private Message

    Firstly, I’m sorry you had to go through that. But glad everything turned out well and your tossing the harness.

    I have/had mixed feelings about harnesses. I’ve heard the dangers and used them myself with good results.

    For me, on one of my rabbits I will put a harness on her with a leash dangling and let her trot around a fenced yard with me following but not holdign the leash. This works for me because a) she wears cloths, e collars and the harness with no problem. I am sure it’s because she’s dumb and has not noticed these things on her. Seriosly.
    I would never put one on a rabbit who does not like being held or is a higher energy bunny.

    The other thing that makes me not want to let anyone use one is this; THere was a girl I knew via the internet-she does bunny agility and is very experienced. She recently ahd a bunny break his back in a harness (Freak out lead to it) and he had to be put down. If she can misjudge a bunny and have an accident like that, I think anyone could -so I would strongly caution against using one.

    5 posts Send Private Message

    I think my bunny is certainly one that does not like the harness thing. maybe when he is older and if he is a little calmer i will try yout advice, Monkeybun, thanks!

    And yes it was a very scary sound i certainly will never forget it. He’s doing much better now though, it’s as if it never even happened. I don’t understand how I am still traumatized by it and hes just relaxing and acting like it never happened. I guess people have more emotions then rabbits, and he doesn’t look injured or seem to be in any pain. So we are pretty lucky, I’m so happy he didn’t break his back. Thanks for all the help everyone!

    585 posts Send Private Message

    I’m sorry Timothy had a bad experience. A bunny scream is very scary to hear
    Valen HATED the harness and we just put the vest on and let him run around the house, but he managed to rip it off, so we didn’t even get to try it out. I am not going to try it on Bella either. I have a playpen that we take out side when we sit on the porch and Valen has fun that way. He gets more exercise in the house though and seems to like that better anyway

    2147 posts Send Private Message

    Oh whit… I have never heard that noise, and I really hope I never do. I know I would cry my eyes out. I’m told that it is heartbreaking.

    I’m so sorry you had to experience that, but please don’t blame yourself. You had no idea that would happen, and the harness apparently does work on some bunnies.

    I hope things get better and better!

    Deleted User
    17543 posts Send Private Message

    In my opinion, just my personal opinion, rabbit harnesses should not be used or sold. Just my opinion. Right along with dog choke chains, I’m not a fan. The dangers outweigh the benefits. Too many deaths have been attributed to these devices.

    1194 posts Send Private Message

    Bunny screams really are horrible! I’m really sorry you had to go through that. The only time I have ever heard the scream was when I caught Nova at the park and I thought for sure she was going to die later that night (though in hindsight it’s almost funny because I thought she was going to kill me or something as I held her 3lbs almost 6ft off the ground in terror). Most bunnies really don’t do too well with leashes. It’s just another thing that is sold in pet stores that aren’t good for rabbits or most of the people who own them! Heck, even the design of most of them is horrible. A long time ago we had a harness that would tighten around the neck like a choke collar for dogs when the rabbit pulled. Luckily as a child the rabbits around me were patient, very calm, and put up with my abuses.

    amanda-penny & lola
    195 posts Send Private Message

    sorry you had to experience that. I’ve never gotten to hear the scream, hope I never have to.

    I tried putting a harness on Penny a while ago and he freaked out. He was running around the room dragging the leash with him & the leash kept getting caught on everything. It was very scary.

    10511 posts Send Private Message

    When I was little, my mom trained our bunny Rambo on a harness, it all depends on the bunny. If they are a small breed, like my Monkey, who’s a nethie, I wouldn’t train them on one. She’s just too high strung and skittish, being so little. But rambo, he was a big boy. Big enough that as an 8 year old, I couldn’t pick him up, thus why we leash trained him it was my job to take him for his walk in the backyard to ge rid of all our dandelions.

    561 posts Send Private Message

    hm some rabbits really dont do well with the leash. buttons really likes his, but he’s not the skittish type, more of the brave, bold type. i guess it depends on the bunny

    647 posts Send Private Message

    My 2 Holland Lops are both fine on a harness. Bugsy has one of the little mesh vests & she is great with it.

    Buddy got neutered & came home with a cone. After he wasn’t all doped up, he slip it right off his head.
    The only way I could manage to keep it on him was with a regular cat harness, Bugsy’s mesh one was too close to the stich area for my liking.
    I put it on him to take him out side afterwards & he was fine.

    I don’t bother harness them any more, they really only get out to be brushed & I have a pen.
    I worry too much about them catching something because of the wild ones in the yard.
    & fleas, I worry about them getting fleas.
    I’m right there with them so don’t so much worry about hawks etc but I can’t protect them from virus.
    I wish I was still brave enough, I know Bug would love to be more her outside space.

    Another caution about harness though;
    the time Bugsy did get startled outside in her vest – she scrunched up her body & dove right through the neck hole – in a blink she was gone – thankfull darted into the trailer.
    Do not rely on on to keep your bun contained, they may just be passively wearing it because they are aware that they can slip out.
    I’m not trying to say they can slip out of any type, just that my Bug got out of that cute mesh one pretty quick when she wanted to.

    9083 posts Send Private Message

    I have used harnesses before without a problem. (but I don’t think I would now).  When I did use them though, I started out by getting the bunny used to the harness  – I’d put it on just the harness part first inside the house, and let them get used to it, an hour at a time, for a few days before, I attached a leash, and then I noticed how they reacted to the “resistence”.  My first three bunnies did not freak out about it so then I took them to an enclosed fenced in area where other animals were NOT allowed. (very hard to find). However, I do feel I was lucky, and  over these last few years I have heard too many stories about injuries to feel fully comfortable anymore.

    I am very glad you posted about your experience because others will be able learn from  and I’ll post it in the FAQ section under Harnesses.  There is another member who also had a very bad experience with a harness so it definitely makes me rethink the whole harness thing.…fault.aspx



    3086 posts Send Private Message

    I”m so sorry to hear about that experience – I would have been freaked out too! None of my buns particularly like trying on the harness, I’ve only successfully gotten it on one of my bunnies and all she did the whole time she had it on was try to chew it off, so I gave up on that idea pretty quickly. My bunnies are a lot more stubborn than I am so they usually get their way a lot more than I do I’m sorry your dreams of running through the fields with your bunny didn’t pan out, but I bet once you got him out there he would just do a bunny loaf in the middle of the field anyways and refuse to run – thats definitely what mine would do!

    425 posts Send Private Message

    From my experience: Bad Idea. That is exactly how Arduina broke her leg. It has been 2 months and luckily she is now running, jumping, and binkying around again, but it cost me $800 and her a lot of pain and weeks on bed rest. From now on she will be an indoor bunny, no more going outside.

    140 posts Send Private Message

    I was advised by my breeder not to take my bun out of the house until he was six months to make sure his immune system was up to snuff and he was matured enough to handle the sounds/noises and used to having me as a safety net.

    I was planning on using a harness on him, but I am now rethinking that definitely. Even though he’s a relatively mellow bun, I feel for everyone who’s gone through these traumas with their buns, and wouldn’t want to risk it.

    Does anyone have a recommendation for exercising their bun as an alternative to harnessed walks? I want to make sure my bun gets the exercise he needs, even though he’s got full run of the house, but not if there is a chance he will come to harm.

    1584 posts Send Private Message

    I let Leroy out of his cage an hour in the morning as I’m getting ready for work/school and then 5-6 hours at night when I’m home. He has free run of the place when he’s out. That arrangement works for us and he gets plenty of exercise that way. I never take Leroy outside because of the dangers from pesticides/fertilizer on the grass and other animals, though if you want to give you bun some outside playtime safely, get a large, high pen and set it up outside. Then you can let him mosey around in there outside – though you should ALWAYS be there to supervise to make sure he doesn’t dig under the fence and to protect him from other animals. Keep in mind though, that some rabbits could even freak out just from the sight of a cat or something…. a while ago a forum member’s rabbit broke its leg after spending time outside – the neighbor’s cat came over and even though it didnt touch the rabbit, the bun got so scared it started racing around and ultimately broke his leg… I’ll try to find the thread… sorry, I don’t remember whose bun it was =/

    As for harnesses, Leroy has one. I only use it when I’m carrying him out to the car or when we go into the petstore – he likes our outings, even rides around in the child seat in the cart at the petstore! I just use it as an added precaution in case he squirms out of my arms – he tolerates it.

    Also, if you do put a harness/leash on your bun, remember that they’re not dogs, so you can’t lead them like you would a dog – you just have to follow behind and let them go where they please (sigh, the life of a bun slave… )

    193 posts Send Private Message

    i put sorry a harness on my little girl and she dose great! but i started with her n the house and just let her walk around with it on and she didnt even act like it was on now i put i ton when i take her out side or to the vet and when she is inside she has a collar with a bell in it so i can help hear were she is the place is bunny proffed i still like hearing were she is tho and she dosnt act like its on sometimes she trys to play with the bel lol but other than that she is fine i would try just putting on the harness with out the leash and let him walk a round with it for a couple days inside so he will c its nothing but if ur not comferable with it i wouldnt do it excpecally outside he could get away or get hurt

    140 posts Send Private Message

    Thanks! We used to use a release collar with a bell when he was much smaller, lol but then he just grew out of them and I didn’t want to risk it being too small.

    haha, now I just hear his heavy footsteps throughout the house, he’s not very light on his feet.

    9083 posts Send Private Message

    Posted By shlbysmom on 09/22/2009 08:39 PM
      when she is inside she has a collar with a bell in it so i can help hear were she is the place is bunny proffed i still like hearing were she is tho and she dosnt act like its on sometimes she trys to play with the bel lol

    Just my two cents.  You can take it or leave it, but I feel I should at least let you know so you are fully informed with this decision.  I have heard of terrible stories where a bunny get’s panicked as they are exporing and their collar gets caught on something.  Even if it is a quick release, it just takes one crazy twist to cause injury.   I definitely discourage collars for bunnies that are worn on a regular bases like dogs.    Rabbit necks are very short, and their body is just not set up for this kind of thing.  You said your bunny plays with it, but I more than likely she is irritated by it and trying to get it off.  Rabbit skin is also very sensitive and it could bother her.   Though I can understand that “hearing” can be helpful in preventing accidental “Bunny Bunts” if your rabbit gets under foot, there are other ways to be aware of your bunny without using a collar. 

    I don’t mean to be critical, as that is not my intent, I just would hate for you and your bunny to find out about the negative things I am talking about first hand.


    1157 posts Send Private Message

    To tell you the truth I always wanted to get a mini collar for Fern, I just think it would look so cute! But I would be afraid of something happening, and her getting hurt. I did have this Velcro collar I put on her just for looks but took it off when I was done admiring her lol.

    I must admit to animal cruelty… I also tried to put Fern in a shirt, I didn’t buy one but I put her in a sock that I had cut holes in. It would be a good tactic for cutting nails because she was so still… but I felt bad and took it off right away. It also looked really silly because it flattened her fur and made her look really skinny, I would have taken a picture but I would have felt bad leaving it on her for just a second more than I did. wasn’t there something similar to that called the bunny-b-calm bag?

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