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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 BEHAVIOR My bunny doesn’t seem to like me

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    • ArchiesMom
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        He never liked being held and a friend of mine who has bunny’s said that she would always hold her bunny and eventually he got used to it. I tried this tactic and now Archie won’t come near me or let me so much as pet him! I understand why. I thought this was the way to do it but I was wrong and now I don’t know how to get my bunny to like me again. He hides under my bed and he will stay under there foreve if he could. I have to pry him out to get him to his cage. What do I do to help out bond again. How do I get him to like me again ?


      • sarahthegemini
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          Well if you’ve been terrifying your bunny by picking him up, naturally he’s going to need time to realise that you won’t do it again and that he’s safe.

          Being prey animals, bunnies generally do not like being picked up. It scares them. Continuing to pick a bunny up may very well get them ‘used to it’ but it’s not something that they will enjoy so why do it?

          Be patient with him, try and hand feed him and talk calmly.


        • Wick & Fable
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            People are vocal when their rabbit loves to be cuddled and tolerates being picked up, but not many people mention when their rabbit is more stand-offish. Because of this, people get a skewed idea that if a rabbit doesn’t like being handled/cuddled, there’s something wrong. In reality, as sarah mentions, rabbits are prey animals and do not enjoy those types of interactions as readily with a large, domineering human being like yourself.

            You will need to break your rabbit’s formed association with you and being picked up, so I suggest continue interactions like attempting to hand feed, being in the same room at a distance without intruding his space, etc.. so he establishes that your presence does NOT mean he’s going to be picked up or encroached upon. Once that occurs, you can try to close the distance.

            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.


          • Bam
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              The method of picking a bun up often can work on some buns but on some buns it can have the opposite effect. It’s clearly not a method that suits your bun’s personality. I think that’s most often the case with rabbits, they hate being picked up, at least until they’ve gotten to know their human really well.

              Buns live in the present though and even if you’ve got off on the wrong foot, a bun can be won over with patience and time.

              If he’s old enough to get treats you can use treats to make him see you as a resource instead of a threat.

              Another thing you can do is hang out on the floor and let him come to you and explore, without you even trying to touch him. You could read a book or listen to music (beware that buns do like snipping headphone cords though). It can take time before he dares approach you, so you’ll need lots of patience. If you place a treat near you once he’s started to show interest in you, that will make him associate you with treats, and that’s to your advantage.


            • Mikey
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                Everyone has really great advice, I just want to add one thing about handle training. Yes, youll hold your rabbit more often, but not all the time. With handle training, you go about your day like normal but one to five times a day you will pick up your rabbit. And its done in steps that youll use for one to two weeks straight before moving onto the next step.

                Example:

                First: Sit on the floor and put your hands on the the side of your bun, apply minor pressure, hold for two to five seconds, release.
                Second: Sit on the floor and hold your rabbit in your lap, apply minor pressure, hold for two to five seconds, release.
                Third: Kneel on the floor and hold your rabbit in your arms, hold for two to give seconds, release.
                Fourth: Stand and hold your rabbit in your arms, hold for two to five seconds, release.
                Five: Stand and hold your rabbit in your arms, hold for around 30 seconds, release.
                Five and a half: Increase time by 10 to 30 seconds until your rabbit is comfortable with you standing and holding for two minutes straight.
                Six: Walk a few short steps while holding your rabbit, release.
                Six and a half: Walk an extra two to five steps until your rabbit is comfortable for you walking in short steps for about two minutes straight.
                Seven: Continue above tactics until desired hold time; try not to exceed five minutes as holding a rabbit too long can cause them to become scared.

                This is what I followed with all three of my bunnies I can hold and carry Blue for a good five to ten minutes before he gets upset with me. I can hold Bombur about two minutes before he starts to become upset. I can hold, carry, and cuddle Badger for a seemingly unlimited time, but, hes a special case

                I think if you take it really slowly after he learns to trust you again, youll be able to train him to accept being held for a good few minutes. Its recommended anyway in case of emergency or vet visit. Some rabbits just need slower training than others to accept being held. Keep hope


              • Boymom4
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                  Growing up I had several house rabbits that were all gotten very young. I carried them around and loved them up all the time and they were all cuddly. Looking back I am not convinced that just because they were used to the handeling that they actually enjoyed it even if they didn’t run.
                  Fast forward to my adult life with rabbits and four young children and I banned all my kids from picking up our rabbits. To say the least, the ones we have now are far less cuddly and freak out if you so much as scoot them over. That being said, we use “herding” to get them in and out of the cage. I generally save their treat times for when I intend to put them in the cage. In the morning I say “do you want your greens?” and wag them in front of them and they will race straight in to the place where they always receive them. At night I give them each a teaspoon of oats and they are right there waiting.
                  Because we did not pick them up when they were young I feel that the bonding process with each one of us has been a little longer in the sense that they had to learn to come to us on their own. Our male is now very demanding for pets and will nip and then cuddly my feet as his way of getting the attention. Our female is just now starting to realize that being pet is a nice thing and will come over once in a while and let me pet her too. It’s taken her 8 months and funny enough she trusts our 4 year old the most!
                  I guess what I am saying is that in spite of the misunderstand and setback I think you will get there. It may just take some time, patience and a consistent routine that builds confidence in your rabbit that you can be trusted not to unexpectedly deviate from it.


                • LBJ10
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                    I’ve been waiting over 7 years for my boys to like me. But all I’m good for is food and naners.  All kidding aside, I agree with the others. He was probably scared and is now wary of you. Rabbits simply don’t like to be held. Can they get used to being held? Yes, but that doesn’t mean they like it. I worked with both of my boys over the years and I can now pick them up when I need too without them struggling. This makes certain things a bit easier! But, believe me, they show their displeasure the second I put them down. I get foot flicks, etc. Although a treat generally seems to smooth things over… as long as the offense wasn’t too severe. Wooly, for example, knows he gets a treat when I’m done grooming him. So he will immediately look for it the second I put him down.

                    I guess the best thing to do is show your bunny that you are not going to pick him up every time you come near him. Try bonding with him on the floor, as if he was a brand new bunny to your home. Sit on the floor and ignore him, etc. Offer him treats. Hand feed him. He should eventually begin to trust you again. You can always resume with getting him used to being held later.

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                Forum BEHAVIOR My bunny doesn’t seem to like me