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Forum BEHAVIOR Is dominance/bullying behaviour too much?

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    • Lisa-P&T
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      Hi guys,

      I have a bonded pair of female rabbits, aged 1 and 7 months old. The 1 year old, Phil, is a VERY dominant personality. We had significant concerns that we would not be able to bond them but all went well, and they are buds now.

      The younger one, Tony, is extremely docile and gentle and placid. 99% of the time (that we observe them), they seem fine. They snuggle and groom, all fine. But we find clumps of Tony’s fur every other day, where Phil has nipped her hard enough to pull it out. Is this normal? Sometimes, it seems like Phil will go for her for no reason. Tony doesn’t seem to mind too much, she just jumps/runs out of reach and then is fine. Today, she is being particularly mean.

      Is this excessive..? I feel so sorry for Tony and it’s just making me feel resentful toward Phil.

      Thanks!


    • DanaNM
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      Hmmm, every other day is a lot, but could it be from mounting? Have you seen the interactions where the fur gets pulled?

      . . . 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.  


      • Lisa-P&T
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        We rarely see the spats but occasionally we do. It’s normally just a hard nip around Tony’s bum and a big clump comes out. She doesn’t seem very distressed by it. They’re only bonded 3 weeks, maybe it’s still early days?


    • Hazel
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      Yeah, that is a bit excessive. They’re both fixed right?


      • Lisa-P&T
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        Yes both spayed! Phil 6 months ago, she’s just a bit of a weapon, to be honest.


    • DanaNM
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      Now I remember you were having a tough time with them!

      Since they’ve only been bonded 3 weeks, it could be that you moved a bit too quickly into non-neutral territory. Were you seeing these incidents in the neutral territory as well? Are they due to un-met grooming requests, or does it seem like Tony is just in Phil’s space? Do they seem to happen over the litter box? Some pairs do better with side-by-side but separate litter boxes.

      Light nipping is generally fine in bonded pairs, and the occasional nip with fur chunks is also OK, but frequent nips hard enough to pull out a big chunk of fur usually mean the bond isn’t quite there yet. I would worry that eventually Tony will get sick of it and it could lead to a fight.

      . . . 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.  


      • Lisa-P&T
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        Well remembered 😊

        We actually got them bonded professionally, out of the apartment due to Phil’s territorial nature. It’s hard to say what’s causing it. We have a castle for them that they play on and nap in. Sometimes Phil gets antsy and will bully Tony out of the sleeping box. Weirdly though, she will groom her first, and then kind of scrabble on her back and then bite her bum. Tony just does as she’s told.

        That’s it exactly, I’m afraid Tony will tire of it. That said, they are fine most of the time. Found another chunk of fur there this evening. Could it be boredom?

        FYI, they’re now in Tony’s old room, which was stripped, 3 x bottles of vinegar used, and new stuff put in, as Phil had never been in there before. They are allowed in the hall now for supervised extra space but not allowed back in Phil’s old space yet for fear of Phil getting territorial.

        Could it be boredom do you think?


      • Lisa-P&T
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        Sorry, I forgot to say they have 2 big litter boxes side by side. Like one is an old cage base and one is a big grocery type box. They both use both and Phil doesn’t seem to much mind. But maybe we introduced the castle too quickly. We also gave them some old toys like tunnels but vinegar’d down. Maybe that’s it?

        Phil was a bully at the bond too but when we brought them home first, it was complete and total harmony for about 3 days. But then they started trying to jump out and over the 4.5 ft pen and we were afraid they’d break their legs, as they were catching on at the top and trying to hold on before falling down. Phil is aggressive RE food, so that is a problem but we address this by feeding her first and giving Tony some food nearby. Once Phil realises that there is no high value food, like banana or spinach, she will happily eat side by side with Tony. She’s just a glutton!


      • Lisa-P&T
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        So sorry, I didn’t realise that I hadn’t replied to this. I’m pleased to say that this behaviour resolved. We still find the odd clump of Tony’s fur, but probably not even once a week now, which is positive. They are firm friends now, constantly snuggling and grooming… Except for food.

        Phil goes berserk when food is on the cards. She goes for Tony, and not just one lunge. She lunges, chases, growls, and tries to bite her. Tony has to run away, and it’s at the point now where she’s gets so scared she lets out a little squeak/squeal and stamps and hides. We’re trying to manage it by spraying Phil with water in the face and this is making maybe a tiny difference. They’re worse with me than my partner, because they expect food from me more than him. Sometimes I just walk into the room and Phil goes for Tony, which is very upsetting.

        Just this morning, Phil went for her 3 times, all without food. But then the 3rd time, they were lying nose to nose, and I was rubbing them both on the forehead/ears. Put of nowhere, as I stopped, Phil growled and lunged straight for Tony’s face. It was completely out of the blue and unprovoked.

        Can anyone offer me any advice or preferably reassurance that this is normal, though I’m fairly sure this is a normal behaviour. She has a full bill of health from the vet, no health issues at all. She has been sick for 6 weeks with pasturellosis (a few failed courses of antibiotics but now we’re on a better course of treatment) so I thought maybe it was that she was feeling down and felt her dominanace was under threat, but the aggression far preceded the illness and is probably worse since she’s been on the mend.

        Thanks guys, for anything at all you can offer.


      • Lisa-P&T
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        Thanks Dana. Those resources were really useful. We managed to get some of the food aggression under control.

        Unfortunately, just now this morning, they’ve had a full blown fight. There are chunks of fur all over the room and they both have patches missing. They’re separated now. I’m just at a total loss. I heard the scuffle from the next room, so I checked the pet cam, as I thought they were just messing. I saw Phil chasing and continuously biting and pulling Tony’s fur. But from the colour of the fur on the floor, it looks like Tony fought back or maybe even initiated, who knows.

        They went to our vet’s place for 3 days while we went away, as Phil has had a chronic case of pasturella for 10 weeks now and she needed twice daily meds so our vet said she’d mind them at her place. Maybe the move there and back unsettled the hierarchy.

        Maybe they just shouldn’t be pals. I just don’t know what to do anymore.


      • Lisa-P&T
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        It seems like we have reached the end of the road with our 2.

        We put them side by side when Phil went into stasis. No animosity observed and lying together, at a distance.

        We tried bonding in the bathroom but Phil went into freeze mode, probably association with being put in her carrier and then maybe the noise of the bathroom fan? Who knows. Anyway, she just shut down each time (we did 3 sessions). Tony cuddled and groomed her and they were perfect.

        Due to Phil’s distress, we vinegar’d their usual room and tried in there. Different story. Phil was dominant but not as aggressive as she could have been. Just the usual, basically being a bully and biting Tony for no reason. However, she was also binkying a lot, obviously delighted to be reunited with her buddy. Sadly, Tony felt no such joy. She kept stamping, squealing and running away when Phil approached her. She was petrified. She did approach Phil a few times and either chickened out or Phil proved her right and bit or chased her. Tony also kept looking to get out of the pen. There was some grooming and they flopped separately and they shared some food but overall, we couldn’t bear to see Tony so frightened, even though Phil was delighted to be back together.

        We don’t feel this pairing is salvageable, even though it seems that the bond isn’t fully broken as they still knew each other and remembered that Phil was the boss. Unfortunately, they also remembered the campaign of aggression and I don’t think Tony can move past it. Nor do I think Phil will learn a new way to be with her, ie a gentler way.

        I’m open to being corrected on whether the bond is salvageable as there were some nice moments but we feel it isn’t fair on Tony, even though I feel so devastated for Phil who really doesn’t seem to realise the impact of her actions 😭


      • DanaNM
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        If they were my two, I think I would also call it quits based on the whole history. Some pairs just aren’t good matches, and female-female pairs tend to be the hardest. Also I feel that even if a pair is technically possible, at some point it becomes not worth the risk and stress to the animals to force a bond.

        And you know them best, so don’t beat yourself up!

        . . . 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.  


      • Lisa-P&T
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        Your partner sounds like a gem ❤️

        Any advice on rehoming rabbits, particularly very dominant ones? We’re not sure what we’re doing yet but I’m at the point where I don’t think Phil will tolerate any rabbit here, although I would like to get her a little boyfriend. She is a sweetheart in neutral territory but she’s a weapon when she thinks she owns something (as you now by now). She tried to bite my boyfriend multiple times last night when he was cleaning out her pen and she loves him.

        So my fear is that if Phil stays without Tony, she will go back into stasis and be miserable more generally having now known the company of another rabbit and enjoyed it.

        If we rehome her to a male, that might work, but my fear is that streak in her will rear its head once more and cause big issues down the line and a new owner may not be as tolerant as we are and she would get bounced around with a rep as a bad bun 😭


      • DanaNM
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        Are there any rescues in your area? They may be able to help place her into foster care, or help find a home. The bonder you’ve been in contact with might also have some ideas or ways to help.

        I think with any animal finding the right adopter is key, and although she has her challenges, she would still be an amazing bun in the right home. I would certainly look for someone who is experienced with rabbits and be honest about her behavior (but also her good traits and lots of cute pictures). A home with no kids (but maybe teenagers would be OK), and probably no other buns (although she might act differently if she was the new bun on the block). It’s usually a good idea to ask for a small rehoming fee if you go through a site like craigslist to make sure she goes to a serious adopter. Giving suggestions about set-ups too (like, she’s prob not a great candidate for 100 % free roam, but would do well with having her own space plus supervised free-roam).

         

        . . . 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.  


      • Lisa-P&T
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        Thank you for the advice.

        We are actually going to rehome Tony. She will be easier to home as she’s very straightforward and gentle.

        Phil is far too much of a handful and we don’t want her to end up getting bounded from home to home as a problematic bun.

        We found a private rabbit rehoming group who try as best they can to vet members. Fingers crossed all will work out for everyone.


      • DanaNM
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        I prob would have done the same. I’m sure Tony will end up in a great home. <3 And perhaps Phil will be happier being the queen of the castle again!

        . . . 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.  


      • Lisa-P&T
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        Thank you ❤️

        It’s been a nightmare. I didn’t stop crying once all weekend. But when I frame it as getting the best outcome for Tony, I feel better about it. We can’t keep them both separately as they wouldn’t get enough attention to be truly happy.

        We actually got a call today from a lady who sounds like she might be able to offer a lovely home, free of bullying! It’s the least Tony deserves. We will do a home check and hopefully that will be her new family.

        My heart is broken but it’s for the best and you’re right, Phil will probably acclimatise. Maybe she’s just one of those buns, or we can consider a husbun down the line who might pose less challenge to her reign.

        Thanks, for the hundredth time. You’ve been sanity in a storm ❤️

         

         


      • DanaNM
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        You’re very welcome! Sorry it couldn’t have been the ideal outcome, but the important thing is that both buns will have a safe and loving home!

        . . . 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.  


      • Lisa-P&T
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        Hello again!

        Not sure if this is still active but jkk chance it!

        So, in a big update, Phil’s potential new husbun is coming to live sigh us this week! He’s a 4 year old neutered Netherland Dwarf called Hopper. He’s been a free roam indoor rabbit his whole life and has next to no interest in food/is not food motivated (which is good becsuse of Phil’s ongoing food guarding). His owner is moving dye to her rental property being sold. She’s obviously devastated 😭 he’s a little gentleman I have to say, by all accounts.

        They’ve had 3 playdates at his house. He is fascinated by Phil and constantly trying to groom her through the bars separating them. Phil also seems quite taken with him – on the last 2 play dates, she was lying down at the bars and even flopped down the the bars beside him!! Obviously, I’m expecting more sassy behaviour in her own territory but I think this is a good sign..??

        Based on their play dates and Phil’s history (and your own expertise) what eiukf you and use around pre-bonding and the bonding process? I was going yo do immersion bonding over ~3 days, kikd was fine with Phil and Tony, with ~1 week of side by side pens. However, I’m starting to think that a slower process might be best. Any feedback or advice?

        I hope everyone (and their buns!) is well 😊🐰


      • Wick & Fable
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        We love getting updates, especially if you’re the OP! Slower is always a safe pace to start with. I am not as familiar with your situation as Dana, but you can always go faster as you see signs, but it’s tough to go slower when an already-adopted fast pace has caused some negative interactions, making the bonding potentially more difficult.

        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.


      • Lisa-P&T
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        Thanks for your reply, Wick!

        I initially thought “let’s do the 3 day technique that the bonder did” but I’m thinking I want to slow it down to maximise the chances of success, if slowing it down will do that.

        Poor ol Phil has been through the mill with her old bond breaking down and I really want this to work for her. It’s been a long few months for her and although I’m home a fair bit, I think that will change – work-wise – soon. Regardless, she liked having a friend. Selfishly, I enjoy how much more snuggly and more attached to us she is now that she is a single bun, but that also shows how much she wants and needs company.

        I’m hoping that he will be a good match for her and she will share her space but I have a good gut feeling about it. Whereas with our other match, I had a bad feeling from day 1. Does her behaviour on the playdates sound positive? The lying down, flopping, and sniffing through the bars? Also, she is the first to turn around or hop away but that would be Phil with anyone. And she did a few binkies and lots of grooming.

        Her old pal, Tony, is really happy in her new 5 star furever home. She has a female to be bonded (once she is spayed) with but that female had babies and they are keeping 3 of them, 2 boys and a girl. So her new owners will bond her with one of the boy babies if she won’t bond with the female rabbit. So I’d like Phil to also have her happy bun friend ending 🐰🐰


      • Wick & Fable
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        None of those are outwardly aggressive signs, so that is a good thing! We worry when first meetings are immediately aggressive, but many of those behaviors aren’t things a rabbit would if particularly stressed by the other’s presence.

        So wonderful that you’d like a hoppy ending for everyone. I think a slow approach is a safe way to go and you can gauge from there how to 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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        I think he sounds like a great match! Those sounds like very positive signs through the fence.

        It would be awesome if you started another thread about the process with him if you’d like to (just so it’s easier to follow, this thread is wild at this point LOL).

        I’ve pretty much done the full range of methods (super slow vs. 24/7 from the get-go). Whether you go slow or fast is up to your preference and ability to supervise for an extended length of time (with the space you have available and the buns personalities factored in a bit too). In my experience, my the easy marathon bonds have taken around 5 days of 24/7 supervision to really get them cemented. Like, I wouldn’t want to start with 24/7 bonding if the buns were just fighting outright, just for my own stress levels and sleep LOL.

        If he seems comfortable at your place and with Phil, and you’ve got the time, then you can always try (and if it seems like it’s getting too tense or will need more time) you can alway slow down and switch tactics.

        I think my favorite approach lately has been a sort of hybrid. I usually do settling in with the new bun and pre-bonding to make sure the new bunny is happy and healthy, etc. Then I like to do a couple weeks of shorter sessions (building up to a couple hours) just to know what I’m getting myself into with marathoning.

        I’m not sure what you mean by immersion bonding over 3 days, but it could take longer than that. I’ve usually seen good signs after 24 hours (when things have worked out), but they may not necessarily be fully bonded and cemented by 3 days. I’ve personally found when I have a strict timeline, it adds unnecessary stress to the whole situation, so having a back up plan for if marathoning takes a bit longer than you planned is important! I’ve definitely called off marathoning anywhere from 12 hours to 2 days in when it became clear that things just weren’t working 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.  


      • Lisa-P&T
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        Lol agreed RE the wildness! I might start a new one if the going gets tough.

        The immersion thing is probably me using the wrong word, I think you calling it marathon bonding is the type I mean. So our professional bonder that we used before, she starts with a short stress bonding session (a car ride) followed by 12 hours marathon bonding, separated overnight, then another 12 hours and if no issues, an overnight and leading into another 12 hours or whatever time they’re collected on that third day. So that’s what I was thinking but I’m starting to think a slower one might be good.

        The new bun arrives on Thursday night. I then have until the following Sunday (10 days) off. So it would be brilliant if it could get done then as I literally have 24/7 available. Then, 3 weeks later, I have 2 weeks off. So if it’s not going smoothly, they’d actually have about 2 months to bond.

        I’m not too concerned although that might be naive as I also though those date signs seemed positive – Phil wouldn’t be shy about letting him know she didn’t like him. She’d literally bite him in the face!! So she has been very pleased with the whole thing. We’ve done 3 dates in about 5 weeks I think. Each time she has remembered him and the place because she is so super smart. Obviously I’m worried about her response on her home turf but I’ll keep them in separate adjacent pens with no touching until I feel safer to let them nearer. He’s just constantly trying to groom her 😂

        I might start a new thread just for updates for anyone who is interested and also, in case I run into any hassle. Tony’s (Phil’s old friend) new owner is coming over to give a hand/learn/practice before trying her bond. So that’s nice too!

        Thanks for the advice RE types and time lines. This will be our first true bonding attempt as we attempted a rebond with Tony and Phil x2. And yet, I feel more secure about this one working out. I just have a good gut feeling, you know? 🤞🤞🤞


      • DanaNM
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        I think if you have a good feeling about it and have the time, then you could go for it. 🙂 I would just have lots of back-up plans (housing, etc) ready to go in case you decide to change strategy once you start.

        If you notice things are WAY different at home than during these initial dates, then my suspicion would be that your bonding space at home is not neutral enough. I wouldn’t push through marathoning in that case, and would work out something where you could bond them somewhere else (or have them professionally bonded if that’s an option).

        . . . 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.  


      • Lisa-P&T
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        Great advice, thank you!

        I have 2 pens for side by side for as pre-bonding or to step back/slow down.

        Our whole apartment is Phil’s so we will have to bond in the bathroom. But they can be kept side by side in another room that’s “hers”, can’t they?

        Unfortunately, our professional bonder is booked up for the next 6 months. I think we can do it though 😊🤞


      • DanaNM
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        I’m going to lock this thread and reply in the new thread! I’ll paste your question in 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.  


    • DanaNM
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      I would try removing the castle and see if that helps. Sometimes hides that are really big or only have 2 walls are better if one bun gets a bit territorial over things. It actually sounds like a frustrated mounting attempt (with the grooming first, then scrambling on her back), so that’s a little less concerning. Often a bun will groom the other before mounting, and some fur can get yanked in the process of trying to mount. Bun Jovi tries to mount Myra daily, it’s just part of their bond. Usually he will follow her around honking and trying to mount for a couple minutes, then they snuggle or she finds a hiding place and he loses track of her (he’s like 12 years old and can’t see very well, so it’s pretty hilarious actually). Sometimes a bit of Myra’s fur does get pulled, either from her back or her bum.  Phil might also be annoyed that Tony isn’t letting her mount so she gives a harder nip at the end. What happens after these incidents? Do they go back to cuddling right away, or do they seem tense?

      I have had the same issue re:food aggression with my newest pair, Cooper and Bonnie. They were a really easy bond, but Cooper goes so crazy for food he will start chasing Bonnie around. It’s gotten better with keeping a strict routine and with time.

      If you are still have the issues with the pen, adding a roof could help, even if it’s just clipping a sheet to the top. Or could be more permanent if you make it out of cube grids.

      . . . 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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      Food aggression in bonded pairs is not an uncommon problem, but it can be very frustrating! If it doesn’t escalate and they calm down once they have their food, then it isn’t a huge issue.

      There are a few threads here on this that might give you some ideas (there are more too, if you search the forum for “food aggression bonded pair” there are lots of results.

      Food aggression in bonded pair

      Food Aggression Between Bonded Pair

      So excited to eat, she gets aggressive?

      I was dealing with this a bit with my most recent pair, Cooper and Bonnie. They bonded pretty easily and without incident, but he gets very excited about food and would chase her pretty aggressively when he thought food was coming (especially a high value food, like a treat).

      I realized that I might have been unintentionally rewarding the behavior by rushing to get the food down to end the chasing, so I started just taking things slowly and waiting until they were both calm (or at least not chasing) to give the food. He has calmed down a lot over the last month or so. I also think that given his history (shelter bun found as a stray), he just started to settle into having some food security.

      I also don’t use bowls for pellets, and I keep a pretty strict schedule of feeding, so they aren’t always anticipating a treat. Desensitizing to the sounds of crinkly bags etc. also seems to have helped.

      . . . 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.  


      • Lisa-P&T
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        DanaNM, you are a Saint! That was great advice! I’ve stepped back as I’m a massive trigger for the aggression, and my boyfriend has been doing more feeding. He was waiting until Phil calmed down and it worked for a while but now she is seeing him as a trigger. She is so aggressive. He actually asked me if I thought it was changing Tony’s personality,as she has been getting steadily more skittish to touch. She runs away when we try to pet her now; she used to sink down in delight. She will only take rubs when she is alone in a hidey place or sometimes with Phil when they are both lying down together and all is calm. They are stuck together much of the time and outside of food, although Tony is very quick to jump out of the way at any side-eye from Phil or potential annoyance. She’s definitely wary of her but otherwise, they pal around and sleep together etc. I guess this is normal…?  Thanks again for all the feedback, it’s so helpful! Your buns sound fab 😊


    • DanaNM
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      You’re welcome! Your two have certainly given you some challenges! That’s sad to hear that Tony is getting more skittish. I would keep a close eye on that and any bullying.

      One thing that I was considering doing with Cooper (but ended up not needing to), was some clicker training, where I trained him to go to a special mat for feeding time (and maybe have Bonnie have a separate mat). Sometimes it can be helpful to think about what we want the animal TO do, instead of what NOT to do. Then think of a way to promote the behavior we’re after.

      For training, you would want to separate the buns (this could be just with an x-pen in the room for session) so they don’t get confused. I think clicker training can be a very useful too for buns that are overly reactive to food, as well as those that are more shy, so maybe it could be useful for both of your bunnies?

      I wonder if there are some strategies used to aggress resource guarding in dogs that might help? I have had really good success with the methods from this trainer Kikopup, and she has an article on how to deal with this in dogs. Maybe there is something that could help here: https://dogmantics.com/resource-guarding-protocol/

       

       

      . . . 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.  


    • Lisa-P&T
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      Sorry, I replied to the wrong comment. When I say chunks of fur all over the floor, it looks like they tore open a cushion, not just 5 or 6.


    • DanaNM
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      I replied in the other thread, but pasting it here so it’s all in one place. I think the illness and vet visit could have upset things, but probably mostly because the situation was already a bit fragile:

      “So I just read your thread on rabbits online, and I hate to say it, but I personally would not attempt to re-bond. 🙁

      I say that just because I know how much you have been through with them, and the fact that there was a lot of bullying even when they were “bonded”, plus all the issues with food aggression. Having one rabbit with an illness can also cause problems.

      I have had 1 bond break on me, with two serious fights, including one that led to an injury that required vet attention (and these fights happened while we were home, and came out of no where. I shudder to think of what would have happened if we hadn’t been home). I opted not to try to rebond, because I just didn’t think it was worth the injury risk, and I felt like I wouldn’t be able to trust the buns ever again.

      If you do want to re-bond, it’s usually recommended to take a very long break with full separation anytime there is a fight that caused injury. Ideally the buns would be in separate rooms for several weeks to allow them to forget each other somewhat.

      Some pairings are just not compatible, and it seems like female-female bonds are some of the hardest and most likely to break on average (a big survey by the UK rabbit welfare association collected some data on this).

      Sorry you are dealing with such a stressful situation. 🙁 I think some cooling off time and healing time will help everyone, whether you decide to try again or not.”

      . . . 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.  


      • Lisa-P&T
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        Thanks for your reply, DanaNM… 😭😭 You’ve been so helpful throughout the last few months, I can’t say how much I appreciate it.

        My boyfriend wants to try and rebond but I truly don’t think it’s either doable or indeed fair to either of them, but especially Tony.

        We kept them in the same room but one in a pen, switching around, for the last couple of days since the fight but I think that was only making things worse as then both rabbits were probably getting the message in turns that they owned the area. Also, Phil’s mood deteriorated, ie. She got very angry at being penned and she has now resumed directing her food aggression in full toward us. We let them out together briefly and supervised and there was no outright fighting but what I would interpret as aggressive body language from Phil and although Tony tried to approach and smell, she would quickly race away and stamp at the prospect of a scuffle. So they’re back to how they were before they were bonded, in separate rooms.

        Can I ask, from what I’ve described of Phil, is she just not suited to a companion because she’s so territorial and alpha? I wouldn’t be offended because I really think she’s just not able to share. If you think it’s just a female-female thing, we could consider a male (and hope it’s sexed correctly this time). But honestly, I think she’d bully anything, rabbit or otherwise.

        I absolutely don’t want to rehome either but I also don’t think it’s fair to keep them in separate rooms because one, probably Tony, will suffer and we will have to go back to splitting our time every evening and I can see Phil going back to attacking us at the smell of Tony. Tony would have to go because frankly, I can’t see how anyone would be willing to take on a rabbit with as many quirks as Phil has. We love them both 😭

        The lady who bonded them also warned that a rebond may not work considering their history. My main concern though, is will it be very stressful for them to just be removed from each other? Are they likely to become depressed? Also, I am now worried that it will be hard to rehome Tony, if we need to, as she may be very frightened of other rabbits 😭


    • Lisa-P&T
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      I also wanted to say DanaNM, I’m sorry to hear about that bond that broke. That sounds horrendously stressful on all involved. It’s never nice to see the buns hurt and feel helpless. I’m glad things worked out in the end for you.


    • DanaNM
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      You are welcome! I’m sorry you are going through such a stressful situation with them. I would trust your gut. If you are thinking it’s not going to work, then go with that. I know it’s such a hard situation, and I’m sure you will come to a conclusion that is best for everyone, but for now I would take it one step a time.

      Two particular rabbits not bonding is not usually an indication that the rabbits are not bondable, just that they aren’t a good match for each other. But there are some rabbits that do seem to prefer being alone. It’s hard to know for sure without trying lots of dates.  I do think that the side-by-side situation isn’t good for either of them right now. Separating them now will not make them depressed, since their bond is broken, so don’t worry about that.

      Rather than worry about all the what-ifs, I would just separate them into different parts of the house for now if you can. Or, if that isn’t really workable, have them side-by-side, but stop switching sides, and put up a visual barrier between their pens (a towel clipped on to the fence works well). Some people will give their buns alternate free-roam (so one bun gets AM exercise, the other gets PM), or opt to split the room with fencing (the first option is usually better long term if you don’t want fences everywhere).

      Then I would just take some time to let everyone calm down and see how things settle before making any decisions. If the two-solo bun situation doesn’t work out, you can think about rehoming down the road, and there is no shame in that, even though I know it would be a hard decision. I also don’t think Tony will be frightened of all other rabbits just because Phil was aggressive. Rabbit personalities are all so different, and it can be hard to predict how they will be until you do some dates. Rescues often have a sense of which rabbits are good with other rabbits, so down the road if you opt to try bonding either of them with another bun, they may be able to help select some good matches.

       

      . . . 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.  


    • Lisa-P&T
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      All great advice, as always, I’ll take it all on board. We’ll keep them separate and take our time. My boyfriend wants to get back to bonding now but I hear you, and we will wait and really consider what is best for everyone involved.

      I am a little concerned about Phil, she seems quite subdued today and off her food but if the bond is broken, then maybe it’s just a bad day and she’ll be fine.

      I’m feeling more optimistic today about trying to bond again down the line, maybe in a month but will definitely weigh everything up carefully. And I think we will return them to the bonder who is very experienced just in case of any residual bad blood or aggression. Only if we re-bond though.. There were lots of good times so it maaaaaaaay be worth a go. We’ll see…

      So I might be back but not for a while I’d say.

      Take good care and thank you again, from all 4 of us humans and buns 😊 🐇🐰


    • Lisa-P&T
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      I put a pic of them as my profile so you have some idea of these little gals you’ve been helping me with all this time. Phil is the white one, the cutest troublemakers 🐰😍


    • DanaNM
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      They are beautiful and so cute!

      I think the fact you had some very good times with them is promising. All of this could have been set off by illness as well. I wish they could just tell us what’s going on in those little bunny brains!

      Do keep an eye on Phil. If she seems very depressed then maybe side-by-side housing (without swapping) would be a good intermediate.

      . . . 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.  


    • Lisa-P&T
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      Just popping an update here because none of my friends care enough about my rabbits to bother telling them 😅

      Poor Phil went into stasis on Friday. She was off her food but not noticeably so for the few days following the separation, even though her mood was perfect. To the point that we were commenting that maybe she seemed even happier without Tony. Obviously not, poor thing. Luckily I had read about it before and knew the dangers so I put 2 and 2 together with a bit of googling and got her straight to the local vet, who gave her an injection to move her tummy along.

      The next day, we got more medication from our usual vet (who is a specialist in exotics). She gave us infacol, a painkiller, a probiotic, and a gut stimulant and we had to syringe it into her (my rabbits HATE handling and generally have a zero tolerance policy – I’m so jealous when I see cuddly rabbits online!) which was stressful but we managed it. We also put them side by side. It’s hard to tell whether it’s the medicine or the being reunited, but she’s eating a bit more and is much perkier, shaking the cage bars trying to get out 😅

      AND, most importantly, we haven’t see any spats they’re lying next to each other (like at a distance due to the pens) and don’t seem remotely bothered by being back together 🎉

      That may well change when there are no bars separating them but we are happy with this and are hopeful for a smooth rebond when Phil is back to full strength. Maybe Tony tried to usurp her after that long illness. As you said DanaNM, if only they could tell us their little thought processes 🤔🤐

      Anyway, that’s it. Just wanted to tell someone 😅 thanks again!


    • Wick & Fable
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      Thanks for coming back and updating! Force-feeding meds can be hard, but glad to hear you were able to manage!

      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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      Wow, what a turn of events! I’m glad she’s feeling better!

      Phil starting to get sick definitely could have set things off between them. An illness in one bunny can sometimes trigger issues in bonds.

      Whatever the case, I’m glad they are both doing well now and hopefully things go smoothly in the future!

      . . . 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.  


    • Lisa-P&T
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      Sorry, again I seem to have posted a reply to the wrong comment above 🤔😑


    • Lisa-P&T
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      I think you called it correctly after the fight, DanaNM. We just thought after Phil went into stasis, there was hope, as there was no apparent animosity. But I do think the bond is so damaged and the fear is so strong in Tony (not poor Phil, she loves Tony in her own way) that as you say, it’s not that it’s impossible, but is it worth it?

      We have a phone consult on Thursday with the lady who bonded them for us. She seems to think there is hope. We’ll see.

      Maybe Phil would be better with a male buddy down the line, a grown one whose personality is formed and known. To be honest, Tony is quite a stubborn and dominant little character in her own way. Always battling Phil for grooming and we let them out in separate rooms there this evening to stretch their legs out of their pens, and when Phil was gone, Tony was crawling all over her stuff, in her litter tray, and dropping poos. I’ll have to close Phil’s pen next time!!

      Anyway, thanks again! You were right and thanks, I’ll try not to beat myself up. I guess some things don’t work out..


    • DanaNM
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      Every bunny personality is so different. It’s amazing how two rabbits can seem to hate each other, but then bond easily with others. And it can be so hard to predict!

      So I wouldn’t necessarily deem either bun un-bondable, just that they aren’t a good match with each other. Maybe down the line you will end up with a pair and a single, or be a crazy bunny lady like me and end up with two pairs due to failed trio/quad attempts. LOL

       

      . . . 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.  


    • Lisa-P&T
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      I’d be happy with any amount of rabbits but my boyfriend wouldn’t to for more than 2 so you’re lucky it you have someone who is on board with so many!! Rabbits are the best ❤️

       


    • DanaNM
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      Hahaha I did get lucky! He’s even worse than I am with some bunnies. We started fostering Bonnie just to see how it went and hopefully have a trio. But then that didn’t work out, and he was like “we can’t send her back” after seeing how well she was doing with us. At at that point we were all crammed into a studio apartment!!

       

      . . . 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.  


    • Lisa-P&T
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      Omg how do I keep replying in the wrong box?? Sorry!


    • Lisa-P&T
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      Hi,

      Just to round off the saga, I wanted to say that Tony found a loving home. They have a female rabbit of the same age that wants a friend. I initially said absolutely not, after the Phil saga, but when they met they were flopped next to each other (through adjoining pens) within 5 minutes (to compare, Phil tried to rip Tony’s face off through cage bars and then got aggressive with us when we removed Tony, and was aggressive with us for months after whenever she smelled Tony on us, necessitating outfit changes between rooms). And the main thing is they are experienced rabbit owners and they have the space and facilities to keep Tony forever. They said if the bond doesn’t work out, they’ll keep them in adjoining pens indoor and outdoor with alternate or fully supervised free roam time so that they have each other, or maybe even get husbuns for them both. We are delighted that she really is in an experienced, and most importantly, forever home.

      Watching Phil like a hawk as she went into stasis after the last separation but we were weaning them off each other for the week or so before Tony went to her new home keeping them apart all day, and just in pens in the same room at night. She is a little off her food but nothing notable and I’m with her all day every day, even while I work from home, and am taking tomorrow and Thursday to work from home so she will only be alone 1 day this week.

      I do feel that she wants and needs a companion, based on how much she loved Tony and how she is now following me around like a lost puppy. However, we can’t overlook what a bully she is and how extremely territorial she is so… We think maybe when we move next year, we will get a husbun then and introduce them in fully neutral territory. I’ll try hold off til then but if she does seem to be suffering, we will try again here down the line. I think we humans just need a period of recovery though!

      Anyway, that’s the end of the saga. Hope you’re safe and well ❤️


    • DanaNM
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      Thanks for the update! Sounds like a wonderful outcome given the circumstances!

      . . . 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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