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The subject of intentional breeding or meat rabbits is prohibited. The answers provided on this board are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet.  It is your responsibility to assess the information being given and seek professional advice/second opinion from your veterinarian and/or qualified behaviorist.

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Forum BONDING Difficult bond

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    • KMcP2
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        Hello, I have a 5 yr old female Holland lop and a 8yr old Netherland dwarf male, both fixed for years. The dwarf is new to me and I am trying to bond them. The male is doing everything as expected, lowering head, grooming her, mounting her. But she just runs away and refuses to groom him or mount him. She will put her head down for grooming but sometimes runs away as soon as he starts. She races away and this leads to chasing, which I have to separate. Once she kicked him in the face accidentally and now his eye might be injured as he is squinting. I don’t see any obvious injury, and flushed his eye with sterile saline, so think in a day or so it will be fine, I’m keeping an eye on it. I decreased the space from 3×3 to 2×2 and they aren’t chasing, but now they are just ignoring each other. He might groom her head once and a while.
        how can I make my female either become dominant or accept him as the boss? She refuses to participate 90% of the time. This is day 2. He isn’t trying to mount this afternoon. They share the litter box and a water dish without issue.


      • DanaNM
        Moderator
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          Hi there,

          I’m assuming you are you doing 24/7 bonding? Either way, you need to give them more time. As you said, you are only on day 2. Do be extra sure that his eye is OK. If he’s still squinting I would pause bonding and have him seen by a vet.

          I do have a couple tips to consider and try though! When they approach each other and put their heads down, pet them both to simulate grooming and keep them calm. She is likely running from him because she doesn’t want to be mounted, and I’m guessing his grooming is always followed by mounting. She has to trust him before she will groom him or accept grooming, so they need more time.

          Another thing is I usually don’t put litter boxes in before they are getting along because they tend to cause disputes. I just put peepads down on the floor and some hay in a pile for longer sessions.

          I also actually prefer a much larger space (like two x-pens linked up) because it allows them to get away from each other and take some breaks (imagine being locked in a closet with a stranger… it might be very stressful for you). Chasing is OK as long as it doesn’t lead to fighting, and I’ve found that the larger the space, the less likely it is for the chase to turn to a fight. If they are doing well in small spaces that’s fine, but don’t be afraid to experiment a bit.

          If you are doing 24/7 bonding and don’t see improvements by the 48 hour mark, then this method may not be the best for them. Some bunnies are very scared and shy and can be forced into a “false bond” by stressful bonding methods, and will do better with a more gentle approach.

          . . . 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.  


        • KMcP2
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            Hello,
            I am keeping a good watch on his eye. Rest assured he will see a vet if there is no improvement by tomorrow. It’s only been a few hrs for his eye at this point and as I said, no visible injury so I’m taking a wait and see approach first.

            as for the bond, yesterday was day 1, I had them without a litter and just some hay and pee pads, and the mess was unbelievable. My female was also holding her pee as long as she could bc she hasn’t gone on the floor in years. They are both usually free roam, and have their own rooms, I moved them into a pen in a neutral space in the house. I made the space smaller because I was told if you see negative behaviour (chasing) it usually means you went too fast when increasing their space. I could try a larger space if this doesn’t work in the next 2 days. I have been doing almost 24hrs, at night I put a grid barrier between them so they can’t get at each other and hurt each other but are still in the same space and can see and smell the other. I even tried the banana on his head trick to try to get her to groom him. But he licked it off himself first. Only tiny bit of progress since post was that she groomed him for like 6 licks.


          • DanaNM
            Moderator
            9016 posts Send Private Message

              Did you do any pre-bonding with them?  How long have you had each bunny?

              If they were separated overnight then it wasn’t truly 24 hrs straight. It might actually be better to put them back in their home enclosures overnight, so they don’t try to claim the neutral space while they are separated (it will also give them a break… bonding is stressful). I haven’t had luck with the banana on the head trick early in the process, it usually works best when the buns are relaxed around each other and will lay together but aren’t quite bonded yet.

              Did you notice any improvements today?

              Really patience is the most important thing!

              . . . 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.  


            • KMcP2
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                Some progress… she grooms him now and he grooms her. They tolerated each other until bedtime. Shared a litter no issues, ate next to each other and had some water. Then he tried to mount her again when the lights went out and the chasing started up. Had to separate them as he was getting too aggressive. Try removing the fence between them in the morning. His eye is fine, no longer squinting, back to normal.


              • DanaNM
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                  Sounds like progress! Keep up the good work!

                  . . . 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.  


                • KMcP2
                  Participant
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                    Decided to try your advice with a larger space this morning. They both binkyed and were tolerating each other all day. Sometimes they might sit near each other and continued to share water and litter no problem. Once and a bit they would groom each other. Around 6pm my male started honking and started chasing her again. She can outrun him in the larger space, but he’s persistent. I have to keep taking him off her head to protect him in case she decides to snap. I feel like she needs to figure out how to start being dominant so this will work out for the best but she doesn’t seem to know how to mount him. It’s midnight , if he doesn’t chill by 130 I’ll put the gate between them again so I can sleep.


                  • DanaNM
                    Moderator
                    9016 posts Send Private Message

                      You might not ever see her mount him or display any obvious dominant behaviors, but her refusing his advances sends him a message that she will not tolerate that from him. I don’t usually worry about which bun will be dominant because it’s often very hard to tell. For me, as long as they are not fighting and are interacting with each other, that means they are communicating and sorting out the details of their relationship (even though we humans may not catch all the signals).

                      The most activity often occurs at night, so you may try to push through with a full overnight at some point, but breaking it up as you have been doing is fine for now. Eventually you’ll need to do a full overnight but rest is important!

                      . . . 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.  


                    • KMcP2
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                        Bond done. Miserable for the first two days, now happily sharing and grooming each other and sleeping next to each other. Will reintroduce them into free roam room tomorrow, and will supervise to make sure new location doesn’t throw them off. But they are able to be left alone now including overnight with no issues. She is dominant bun, and the larger space bond worked for us. The small space bond method didn’t work for our free roam buns, it just made them miserable. Thank you for your advice.


                      • DanaNM
                        Moderator
                        9016 posts Send Private Message

                          That’s awesome! So happy to hear that!  We’d love to see some pictures of the happy couple!

                          . . . 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 Difficult bond