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Forum BONDING Original rabbit aggressive when bonding?

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    • DottieBun
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      Hello all!

      I have had a free roam spayed female rabbit, Dottie, for about 2 years and a week ago I adopted a neutered male, Pumba.

      I’m hoping to write out how it’s been going so far in hopes that one of you with more experience will give me their thoughts and suggestions!

      Day 1: I adopted Pumba and set up his xpen next to Dottie. Dottie was acting super territorial and it seemed like she was trying to get to him through the pen. Pumba was unphased lol.

      Day 2: I figured that maybe setting up Pumba’s pen in Dottie’s space wasn’t a good idea, so I moved both of their pens to a room that Dottie typically hangs out in and it was a huge difference. Dottie just was curious about Pumba and he was curious about her.

      Day 3: We swap the rabbits and put them in each other’s pens and Dottie was super thumpy and grunt for like 15 minutes. We have continued to swap rabbits every day.

      Day 4: Dottie lifted the pen from under and I saw her up against Pumba’s pen and they were both standing and swiping/boxing each other for like 5 seconds. I grabbed her and put her in her pen. I also reinforced the xpens.

      Day: 5/6 They just kinda look at each other through the pens every once in a while, they both occasionally flop or lay outside of their hidey homes. I feel like they might be mirroring eating?

      Day 7 (Today) : The only place Dottie hasn’t been is the main bedroom. I bought a pop-up playpen and put it in the main bedroom. I put both of them in their separate carriers and then opened them up in the playpen.

      They walked over to each other, sniffed each other, and Dottie started fighting Pumba. I separated them for a second, calmed them down. They just went back to fight and a rabbit tornado almost occured but I picked Dottie up and calmed both of them down.

      I then put them both next to each other, held them down pretty tightly and pet them for like 30 seconds to do bunny magic. I then put them both in their carriers and back in their pens. A few moments later Dottie was laying long in her pen and they both seemed fine.

      I basically want to know if this means Dottie won’t bond with Pumba? Like should I be expecting that there will be progress on these dates? I thought a fight would only happen if one rabbit ticked off the other rabbit, but it seemed like there was just an initial hate?

      Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

      Thanks!

       

       

       


    • DanaNM
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      I don’t think this means they won’t bond, but it does mean you will need to put in a bit more effort! My first pair (in my avatar) was like this, and it took a while to bond them, but then they were SUPER tightly bonded and were obsessed with each other once they finally clicked.

      Since you have only had Pumba home a week, I would slow things down a bit. I think it would be helpful to do at least another 2 weeks of pre-bonding before starting sessions, possibly more since you got off to a rocky start (especially with the little tussle they had in the pens before you started sessions).

      When you resume sessions, you can start with SUPER short sessions, and try very hard to prevent fighting. Don’t be afraid to have your hands (with thick gloves on!) on them a lot. A dustpan can also be really helpful for sticking between them if you think they are about to fight. I would start with a 30 sec time goal. The goal is to end the session before there is any fighting at all. When they approach each other, be right there and start petting them both as they go nose to nose. This will keep them calm and make them think the other rabbit is grooming them. If that goes well, try for 1 minute in the next session, then 2 minutes, etc.

      If in these short sessions they are still fighting immediately, I would try stressing. If you have a helper, you can take them on a short car ride together. I like to use a large plastic tub instead of a carrier as it’s easier to see and intervene if they start scuffling. Have the car running, pop the buns in the bin, and drive around for 10 min. Then repeat that for a few days in a row if it goes well.

      . . . 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.  


      • DottieBun
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        Thank you so much for responding. I really like the suggestion of 30 seconds in the beginning and only starting immediately petting them both when they get close to each other.

         

        My only issue is that Pumba is foster to adopt and we have about 2.5 weeks left of the fostering before we have to decide whether to adopt him or not. I won’t be doing another dating session today due to the fight yesterday but I’m worried waiting 2 weeks may be too long? What do you think?


      • DanaNM
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        Hmmm, I think you should talk to the rescue about it. Since he is a foster to adopt, there may be another rabbit that would be an easier match with Dottie. But if you are already very attached to him and would like to give it a real attempt, I would talk to the rescue and see if they will give you more time.

        Also if needed, you could maybe just do 1 more week or prebonding and then resume sessions.

        . . . 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.  


    • attemptedquad
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      I definitely recommend spraying water or a dustpan to help diffuse fights! My boys have been a long bond and it has helped to stop things before someone really gets hurt. Tornados can definitely set back bonding a lot more than just a nip or something like that. I wouldn’t be too worried though, most rabbits can bond together, some just take more time than others. My very tightly bonded pair used to beat the crap out of each other and tornado and then suddenly, one jumped into the other one’s pen one night and when I woke up the next day, they were bonded with no aggression or injuries lol. In my experience, they will show signs of no progress for sometimes weeks and then suddenly, there’s a huge breakthrough where they show that they really like each other, so don’t feel defeated if it takes a long time to see improvements. Good luck! It is actually really worth all the effort you’re putting in.


      • DottieBun
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        Yeah! I had thick gloves and a dust pan to help separate them.

        Im glad your bonding turned out well!

        I don’t think I’ll put them through an overnight cage match intentionally though :p


    • DottieBun
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      Just wanted post a bit of an update.

      The next 3 days I’ve been putting them in the playpen and immediately petting them for about 30 to 50 seconds, and then take them away. They both kinda relax after being pet a little bit.

      Tonight, I pet them for a bit until they relaxed then stopped. They both went up to each other with both of their heads down waiting for the other to pet them?

      I gave it like 2 seconds and then started petting both of them. After a little bit I stopped and they just kinda stayed their with both their heads down so I pet them again. After a little bit more petting I stopped the date.

      So overall great progress! Although I’m not sure what exactly what to do when there’s the bunny stalemate of both their heads being down.

      Any ideas?

      Thanks!


    • DanaNM
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      That sounds great! For now just keep petting them when they ask for grooms! Once this calmness is a bit more established, you can pause your petting for a few seconds here and there to see what happens, and then slowly ease off petting more and more. Sometimes this will actually trigger one bun to groom the other.

      . . . 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.  


    • DottieBun
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      Hey!

      So it’s been a month since and I’m looking for some feedback.

      <hr />

      They’re in pens side by side.

      The rabbits themselves get swapped between pens every night.

      We’ve been doing the bunny magic/smooshing method for about 15 minutes every night for the past 4 weeks.

      1 week ago we added a second mid day bunny date where they just eat lettuce together and then put them back before they get to interact and that’s been going well.

      Last night, I let them interact for a little and what happens is they run up to each other for the head grooming wars and less than 4 seconds in, Pumba, goes to nip then bite Dottie.

      This has basically been the exact scenario 3 weeks ago. It doesn’t feel like anything has really changed.

      Do I keep doing this or try something else? There have been small improvements like there have been times they both groom themselves for a few seconds.

      Thoughts?


    • DanaNM
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      That sounds like you have made some progress, but very slowly.

      Have you tried any stressing techniques? A 10 min car ride each day for a few days in a row can be very helpful in these types of bonds.

      . . . 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.  


    • DottieBun
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      I have not. I was thinking of trying a date in a bathtub today just to make it a little more stressful.

      The dates are currently in a baby playpen I purchased that’s sitting in a bedroom they’ve never been in.

      Do you think it’s worth trying the bathtub or sticking with what I’m currently doing?


    • DanaNM
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      I would give the bathtub a shot! Sometimes it seems like neutral spots become less neutal when bonding takes a few weeks, so it’s good to change up locations, as long as they are all similarly neutral.

      Another thing to experiment with is the size of the space. I’ve had the best luck with really large spaces, so if the bath tub doesn’t go well, you might try the date in the neutral bedroom, minus the play pen.

      . . . 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.  


    • DottieBun
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      Thanks for the quick response!

      The bathtub was a pretty rough experience.

      We first put Pumba, (black male second rabbit), in the bathtub and he was freaking out and try to stand still and or run around but he just could not get any traction. It was literally like our bathtub was frictionless.

      I put a small towel down onto the left and he stood on that. I then put another small towel down on the right and put Dottie,(original white female rabbit) on it.

      So it was towel, no towel, towel.

      Dottie was kinda inspecting around and groomed herself and just did her own thing on the towel. Pumba would literally not take his eyes off of her. After a minute he started digging at his towel.

      A minute later he walked over to her to try and nip her but I had to separate him. That happened 2 more times and so I ended up giving them lots of pets separately and then stopping the date.

      My specific bathtub was definitely not a good idea and I’m 100% sure that they wouldn’t hurt themselves with how slippery it was lol.

      Do you think I should just keep doing the bunny smooshing/magic everyday? I’m not sure what to be looking out for until I let them interact again.

       


    • DanaNM
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      Personally, my next steps would be to try a car ride and/or a very large bonding area. For car rides, have someone else drive, get the car running and ready. I like to use a large plastic tub, rather than a carrier. Have you leather gloves on, pop the buns in the bin, and go for a drive. Most buns will not fight in the car, but sit in the back with the buns and be ready to break up any fighting. Drive them around for 10-15 min and then end the date. Repeat that a few days in a row if there was no fighting in the car.

      Do you have a space where you could set up 2 x-pens linked together? I used to use my friend’s garage or backyard when I lived in a small apartment. Then the bonus is you can do a car ride on the way to the bonding area. 🙂

      . . . 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 Original rabbit aggressive when bonding?