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BINKYBUNNY FORUMS

Forum BONDING rough start?!

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    • Ellen
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      So Im trying to bond my two males (winston, my original bun and oreo, the newcomer). Last night I started with having a gate in the middle of the hallway while they eat their veggies. At first they were both terrified of each other and then began to get more comfortable. I ended that session with giving them both a treat and that went really well. Today seemed to be the complete opposite. I allowed Winston to enter the room where Oreo was staying while Oreo was still in the pen. Winston was very unbothered at first, he chinned a few things which was expected and sniffed around. Oreo on the other hand was terrified and kept lunging anytime Winston was remotely near. Winston seemed unbothered at fist and all was well until the met at the gate and Winston started to try and box Oreo through the gate. The session ended there because winston wouldnt go back anywhere near the gate for me to try and end it on a positive note. I again tried to do what I did last night, have them eat with two gates between. The whole time Winston was fixated on trying to get at Oreo while he ate. Is this normal? Am I moving things too fast? The last thing I want is an actual fight where either bun gets hurt.


    • Samie
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      First question – are they both neutered? I have been told that while bonding bunnies of the same gender is possible, it’s more difficult than the M/F pairings. I am having the same issue with my spayed females.


      • Ellen
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        yes they are both neutered and have been for at least 5 months


    • DanaNM
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      Hi there! It’s pretty normal for there to be tension when buns meet near their main areas, even when through a barrier. (Imagine a person you maybe passed on the street once just showing up in your house, you might be upset too! ).

      Just so I have a better sense of the timeline and their set up, could you fill out the “bonding template”? There’s a pinned post, you can copy the template and paste it in your reply here. It’s really helpful for us to make sure we don’t tell you things you already know!

      Based off what you’ve said here though, I think they would really benefit from what’s known as “pre-bonding”. This means having the buns live side by side in different pens, and you swap who’s in which pen every day or two. At first you will likely see more of the same behaviors you’re seeing now, but then over time it will calm down a lot. The idea is to wait to do face-to-face sessions until they calm down in the pre-bonding phase. In my experience this usually takes about a week or two! Then continue the side swaps once you start sessions in neutral territory. 🙂

      . . . 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.  


    • Ellen
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      Spay/Neuter
      Are your bunnies spayed/neutered? yes
      If so, for how long (for each)? Winston (about 6 months) and Oreo (at least 8 months Im not 

      Housing
      Please describe your bunnies’ current housing set-up (living together, as neighbors, etc.). Winston is free roaming in my bedroom and Oreo is in a pen in the bonus room (previously Winstons play room) and I alternate which one has access to the hallways during playtime

      Bonding background
      Did you allow the bunnies to “settle-in”? Ive had Winston for about 7 months so yes. For Oreo I gave him 2 days (which I realized wasnt enough time after doing a bit more reading)
      How would you describe your bunnies reactions towards each other (answer for each bunny): shy, scared, curious, calm, aggressive, excited, affectionate, etc.? Oreo is definitely terrified, he lunges after winston moves at all and is always super alert when he is nearby. Winston started of very curious of Oreo and wanted to sniff around but then that soon turned to a more aggressive behavior.
      Have you done any “pre-bonding” (cage or litter box swaps, etc.)? I just started with the litterbox swaps a day ago
      Have you started sessions yet? I tried to have the two meet in the hallways with a gate between them while they ate, the first day it was fine, lots of ignoring and a couple of sniffs. I tried it again the next day but it resulted in a lot of lunging and attempts at boxing, and I decided to give them a break.
      How long have you been working on bonding your bunnies? I have tried for 2 days
      How frequently do you have bonding sessions, and how long are they? The method I mentioned lasted about 30 minutes off and on as they came and went
      Have you tried any stressing techniques? No


      • Ellen
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        So for the pre-bonding cage swaps…Could I put the cage right in the room my bunny roams in? Also is it possible for them to hurt each other through the cages (especially concerned about while I am away or sleep). Finally, my original bun (Winston) gets very moody when he is in a cage since he has been free roamed basically his whole life. What way can I approach this issue?


    • DanaNM
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      Thanks for filling out the template! So yes it is very early days for you.

      Yes so for pre-bonding, you could set up the cage in Winston’s room. He will be unhappy about this at first! To prevent nipping through the cage bars, you will want to either set up a second pen around the cage to create a buffer zone, so there is a double wall with 4-6″ of space between.

      Or you can get these other panels (https://binkybunny.com/forums/topic/nose-guards/) or 1/4″ wire mesh hardware cloth and line the pen or cage wall with that so they can’t nip through.

      Rather than swapping between one bun in the cage and one free-roaming, it may be better to have them in side-by-side pens, and then they similar amounts of free-roam time. You can either divide the space and let them roam at the same time (as long as the barrier is double walled or covered with a nose guard), or you can alternate free-roam time, so one bun gets morning exercise and the other gets’ afternoon, etc.

      This situation is nice because the buns get equivalent treatment, and they spend more time near each other, with their food, litter box, etc. all close to the other bun. It also removes the sense of urgency that might come from having a bun in a cage for too long.

      I think you could do this type of set-up in either your room or the bonus room.

      I think given how scared Oreo is and how recent all of this is, I would first figure out how you want to set up the pens and get that set up. Then let Oreo get settled in that set-up for at least a week without side swaps or anything.

      Once he starts seeming more relaxed, then you can start the side swaps.

      Another thing you can do at first when you set up their side by side pens to make it a more gradual transition is to hang a towel or blanket over the border wall, so they can’t see each other. They will still be able to smell and hear each other though, and you can slowly allow more and more visual access as they calm down.

      . . . 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.  


      • Ellen
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        so i set up the cage inside the room less than 24 hours and winston has tore down the barrier gate at least 5 times. both bunnies were thumping all night and wouldn’t stop until i layed on the floor. Winston also won’t let me or oreo move without lunging, and he has boxed me a couple times as well. At first he seemed very unbothered and the two flopped together in less than two hours, and were mirroring each other as well. But winston just got more and more aggressive and keeps trying to tear down the gate. Oreo isn’t bothered anymore and is very calm and will even start grooming himself when winston is trying to attack.


    • DanaNM
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      Yikes!

      Definitely make sure all barriers are reinforced. Bunnies in this situation will often jump very high and work very hard to “get at” each other.

      Can you try hanging up a towel over the gate to make a visual barrier?

      . . . 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.  


      • Ellen
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        I ended up switching, having Oreo free roam and Winston in the cage. While he is still a bit aggressive it seems to be less than the day before. I also have been using the visual barrier off and on especially when things get super tense. Winston definitely hates being in the cage and has destroyed every toy inside, but he attacks the gate a lot less now. The two have calm moments where they eat together, I think this is a good sign?


    • DanaNM
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      Sounds like progress to me! Eating together is great. You should start seeing more and more relaxed behavior over time! Sometimes it seems like a switch is flipped and they just accept the situation and stop freaking 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.  


      • Ellen
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        so it was going good all week, the two lay next to each other and relax all day long…no signs of any agression. I took this as a sign everything was all good and I started the bonding face to face. I started off in a small neutral box and boom fighting. I got bit pretty bad and ended up stopping the session because I was hurt. All the agression was on Winstons side, he immediately attacked oreo and soon as i dropped him in. I put them back in the seperated gates and the first thing they do is go lay next to each other!! I am so confused at this point, they go two steps forward and a bunch back


    • DanaNM
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      Ahh bummer! Steps forward and back are pretty par for the course with bonding. I have never had any luck with small space bonding. My idea on this is that when an animal is frightened, their options are typically “fight or flight”. In a small space, they have no room to flee, so fighting happens quickly in many cases.

      In addition to doing another week of cage-swaps, I recommend finding a location that is very large (like at least 2 x-pens ideally), VERY neutral (not in your home if possible), and slightly stressful (maybe there are some unfamiliar sounds happening). A pen set up at friend’s house is ideal for this.

      Put the buns in the pen, set a short time goal (like 30 seconds or a minute), and then end the date, even if they haven’t interacted yet. Then repeat that for a few days.

      Another possibility is to try some stressing, but if they fought immediately in the box you would need to be careful and ready to break up fighting. I’ve had really good luck with car rides when buns just want to fight immediately (the pair in my avatar was like that). I had someone else drive, get the car running and ready. Put both buns in a plastic bin and get in the car immediately, drive around for 10-15 min. You sit in the backseat with the buns, with gloves on to break up any fighting (if there is any). If they don’t fight in the car, then repeat the car rides for a few days. If they fight, then stressing is not likely to be a good tool for them.

       

      . . . 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 rough start?!