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Forum BONDING Ruby and Maxwell

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    • Susanne
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      Hi all! I thought I’d start a new thread with the bonding template/ journal for my 2 since I haven’t done much with them yet and the actual bonding was getting buried in my other thread. I plan to start with putting them together for sessions starting Friday 10/29. The good news, Max has seemed to settle, and the poop wars are diminishing. They lay along the fence close to each other, and Ruby isn’t aggressively chasing him down the fence anymore.

      Spay/Neuter
      Are your bunnies spayed/neutered? Yes
      If so, for how long (for each)? Ruby over 1 year, Max at least several months
      If not, why not?
      Are you aware of reproductive cancer risk in females? If not, please read about it here.

      Housing
      Please describe your bunnies’ current housing set-up (living together, as neighbors, etc.).  They are neighbors. Max has a large 50+ sq foot area of a bedroom, there is a fence up, and Ruby has the other part of the bedroom plus a hall and 2nd bedroom.

      Bonding background
      Did you allow the bunnies to “settle-in”?  Max has been here over 2 weeks, I tried sessions after a few days but have taken a break for more settle in time
      How would you describe your bunnies reactions towards each other (answer for each bunny): shy, scared, curious, calm, aggressive, excited, affectionate, etc.? Right now they are curious, calm, a little indifferent. 
      Have you done any “pre-bonding” (cage or litter box swaps, etc.)? I’ve switched them a couple times in the last week
      If so, for how long? I let Max in her area about 12 hours each time.
      Have you started sessions yet? I did 2 a couple days after getting Max home. The first one was very good, but the second Ruby was being a bully and did not end well. (They did not fight, but Ruby charged/ boxed towards him and bit me, Max bit me when I picked him up though I don’ t think it was intended for Ruby)
      How long have you been working on bonding your bunnies? About 2 weeks
      How frequently do you have bonding sessions, and how long are they? Once I start this week, I will have to decide based on how they act together. Ideally several times a week and as long as possible. Will keep them short if needed for the first several.
      Have you tried any stressing techniques? No


    • Susanne
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      We had a bonding session today. I did it during the afternoon sleepy time. It went ok… I think?

      Ruby was still tense, but at times acted super comfortable. Basically they ended up cheek to cheek laying down, I was petting. They both purred during that. Ruby started grooming him a little. She also groomed herself, and he put his head under her and she kept grooming herself with him under her.

      The not so good was Ruby still is nippy with him, but maybe a little less than last time. She nipped his rear when he was hopping away but didn’t chase. I think she nipped his face. He didn’t really react.

      Oh also at the end she started humping his head. I let her for a few seconds because he seemed ok and she used to do the same to Elmer. I gently pulled her off, he looked happy.. then ended the date. It was only about 30 min.


    • DanaNM
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      Sounds pretty positive to me!

      I don’t mind face mounting in bonded pairs, but in a bonding session I will spin the mounter around so they are in the “correct” orientation to avoid a bite to the genitals if the mounted bun get’s tired of it.

      . . . 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.  


    • Susanne
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      Thanks Dana. The whole thing has me so stressed, I’m still very worried about them fighting. Ruby and Elmer had such a different dynamic, and not sure what to think of all Ruby’s nipping. But yet she groomed him already. I did put a dustpan barrier between them a couple times last session.

      I think I’m just going to take it slow. Maybe try for another afternoon 30 minutes in the next few days. Seems like as long as it’s their nap time they do pretty good.


    • DanaNM
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      Taking it slow is usually a good strategy! Take some deep breaths and maybe have a cup of calming tea before hand. 🙂

      It’s normal to be nervous about scuffling, but just remember that if you are right there to break it up it’s unlikely they will get hurt (even if some fur flies). In most of the bunnies I’ve bonded there has been some scuffling at some point (despite my best efforts to prevent it), and it doesn’t mean they won’t bond.

      . . . 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.  


    • Susanne
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      Well I did another 30 min session today. After a hike when I felt calm, ha. They did about the same, if not a little more tense for most the time. Maxwell doesn’t do much. He lays flat and closes his eyes when he’s close to her. I think it might frustrate Ruby but to me it’s better than a fight.

      They did some head butts where I petted and they didn’t get too upset, and Ruby did groom him little. I’m not sure at what point, but she started nudging under his side.. I heard some grunting as he turned at her side too and nipped maybe? but not one was bitten and I put dustpan between them.

      She also tried to mount his head again. I put her the right direction and I let her mount for about 30 seconds. He was fine. The. She came back for his head and I stopped her.. and boxed me. I’m pretty sure it was for me not him.

      Finally, after a short separation, they did more laying, heads together. I pet them a minute or so and they seemed slightly more calm by then. I picked up Max to put him back.. she did do a half hearted lunge at the movement but think it ended pretty positive. It’s just not progressing much yet and I’m not super comfortable keeping them together longer until there is less tension.

       


    • Susanne
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      Ugh so I took them for a short date today, decided to put them in the carrier together first for some pets together to start it off without nips… About 1 minute after getting them out, Max shook his foot like before grooming and I saw droplets of blood fly. I put them back in the carrier, smooshed and pet… them took him back to evaluate. He is at the vet now for ripped out nail, down to the bed. I think it may have been when I put him in the carrier, I felt something snag but I thought his back foot missed – not entirely sure how it got his inner front nail but I feel horrible. They are holding him until the vet can look, it was bad enough that the tech couldn’t patch him up.

      So on the bright side they had a few minutes of pets together :/


    • DanaNM
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      Awww bummer about the nail! Don’t feel too bad, things happen.

      The session before that sounded like it went ok! I’ve seen that behavior before, where one bun kind of pins themselves to the ground and the other will nip their side. I don’t really know how to interpret it, but I agree it’s better than full on fighting. Hopefully you can try another carrier session once he’s patched 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.  


    • Susanne
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      Yes, luckily the nail turned out to be minor, and it doesn’t seem to phase him at all!

      The bonding could definitely be going worse, but it’s hard feeling like if I wasn’t right there they’d fight quickly. Not an outright attack at least. Yes, next time I think I’ll do the carrier for a bit first.

      Problem now is Ruby is hating me. The meds for URI is going horrible.. both of them are almost impossible. They hate the syringe and meds, and I can barely hold them. I’ve missed a few times after 2 doses! I think I can get Max to eat them in some baby food since he’ll eat it without the meds, but Ruby on the other hand is the pickiest bun ever! She won’t eat greens, carrots, or baby food so far. Ugh anyway just venting at this point. I may do a short bonding session tomorrow but I’m worried if they are in a bad mood from getting meds and cage swaps it will go poorly.


    • DanaNM
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      What about mixing them in mashed banana?

      . . . 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.  


    • Susanne
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      The baby food I got was banana. I also got apple and put them both out for her. She sniffed but would not taste either one! I’m going to run up to the store tonight and get some raspberries and Strawberries, maybe some other fruit and try and find something she likes. I just can’t believe all she wants is hay, and a few pellets. Oh and her treat, but it’s a timothy hay chew stick so I don’t think I can get the meds in that.


    • Susanne
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      Well I guess the meds are just too gross, I couldn’t really get anybun to eat them in other food. So stuck with the force feeding which Ruby is not doing well from. Max bounces back, but she is acting depressed. She has slowed down eating but not stopped completely so I think OK for now.

      I put them on a short date today, but now Ruby is afraid of me there too. I think she is scared of doing something wrong with Max so she ignored him mostly. I pet them nose to nose at least a little bit. At one point she tried to hump his head as usual, I was able to put her the right way.. she did this weird thing where she made some noise I’ve never heard then looked like tried to jump over him??? What was that? Then I guess scared her when I went to intervene and she ran to a corner. They groomed themselves about 5 ft apart. She tried to hump his head again and she cowered as soon as I went to move her. I guess on the bright side she isn’t grunting, only one “fake’ nip. Again, could just be scared of me though.. seems better than fighting?

      Anyway- I think I’ve made things worse. Not sure what else to do about Ruby and her hating this med situation. We aren’t even past day 2 of 14. I’ve thought about stopping giving them to her, since she really hasn’t shown symptoms, but then again if she is starting a URI I’d hate for her to give back to him, or get it while treating him, etc. He may not even have one either but his nose does run a little.


    • DanaNM
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      Honestly, I’d prob pause dates and side swaps while you handle their meds etc (but maybe keep doing litter box swaps). I think it just may help Ruby to have a bit less daily handling, and  I think it’s probably just a lot for all of you to handle! It’s generally not recommended to bond while either rabbit has a medical concern, so that would be the safest thing to do anyway. Bonding is stressful, which can lower the immune system and make recovery slower. I’m sorry that’s probably not an answer you’d love to hear!

      When you do start again, you might try to ease off intervening immediately and see how it goes. To my memory, they haven’t had a bad fight in a while (?), so it may be time to back off a bit and see what happens.

      . . . 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.  


    • Susanne
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      Yes, it’s a lot. I’m debating stopping the meds for Ruby. I don’t know if it’s worth how she is acting right now considering she probably doesn’t have symptoms (I thought under her nose was wet one day but not sure)

      I could probably stop the side swaps and bring Maxwell down to a bigger area in the living to play each day..

      For the dates, they haven’t spent tons of time together. Maybe 4 or 5 now and some only 30 min. I did only intervene today when she mounted his head, but I’m still not trusting of Ruby at all. They never got in a fight because I’m very hands on. The most that happened was they did start a tight circle and I separated (meanwhile they both bit me). No fur has been pulled at all…

       

       


    • DanaNM
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      Hmmm, yeah i can’t really advise on the meds, but you should check with the vet. My concern would be that if there was an infection, it could become antibiotic resistant with only doing a partial course of meds.

      . . . 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.  


    • Susanne
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      Good point, wouldn’t want resistance. It’s so tough, the vet wanted to wait on antibiotics but his nose kept looking wet so I made the call to order them. I tried to call tonight and she is out of town for 2 weeks :/ So I suppose I’ll keep giving them (assuming they can give me more since I’ve wasted a bunch already) and halt bonding. Just gave again with some pineapple juice in the syringe. I think I got all of in both of them but Ruby is back in her box. She hasn’t ate much today and won’t eat a treat now 🙁


    • DanaNM
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      Gahh so stressful. Come on Ruby, stop stressing out your human!

      . . . 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.  


    • Susanne
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      Hello, so I started up bonding sessions again! I’m not exactly sure what it all means.

      One was for an hour and mostly ignoring. Today I did the longest yet, 4 hours. It was intense and Ruby was really nippy. She didn’t seem to want him close for long. A lot of head wars and Ruby frustration it looked like.  Ruby kept trying to hump his head and didn’t like being put the right way. Max started running away.. Max tried to hump her and she got mad.. Ruby managed to get a nice clump of fur out of him, and I did a lot of intervening. The good thing is they both didn’t keep going after each other once I intervened, but they couldn’t interact without someone getting upset within a minute. Although oddly she would still give him an occasional groom.

      After maybe a couple hours they were getting more tired and Max kept trying to approach her. After getting chased off a couple times, she finally let him lay with her and they cuddled. Ruby even flopped against him.

      I’m worried about them resetting each time.


    • DanaNM
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      Do you feel they tend to get better towards the end of the bonding sessions when they are long? Or are they just building frustration? I wonder if maybe shorter sessions would help you not have to intervene so much?

      . . . 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.  


    • Susanne
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      Well they seem to vary quite a bit, but I haven’t done many and they were spread apart. I think they’ve probably only been together 10 hours over the past 2 months. The two this week were 1 hour and 4 hours of that 10, and they did the best at the end of the long one. It could be that it was prime sleeping time and maybe I just need to keep them in the afternoon. They just have so many mixed signals 😮  I thought it was going badly but it’s just more work than her and Elmer.

      My plan for now is do another long one Sunday and see if it also calms down after the first hour or two. Then I’m off 6 days over Thanksgiving so might try a marathon. (I got more rugs for kitchen and chew things) depends on how they are when I need to get sleep.. guess I’ll be sleeping in the kitchen or very close!


    • DanaNM
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      Gotcha! You also might try to do some sort of session every day, even if it’s short (like 10 minutes). I think some sort of interaction daily will help, even if you only have time for longer sessions on the weekends.

      . . . 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.  


    • Susanne
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      Yes, I was thinking the same thing with getting to daily sessions. I think after Sunday I should be good, and hope they are doing well enough for a marathon by Thursday or Friday. Is it 24 hours in neutral without intervening that I can move them to semi neutral?  I have a large area in my living blocked off that I’ve been using for them to play so I can hang with them and watch TV… it will be great once we progress to that area.

      Fingers crossed the last one was progress and not just Ruby being too sleepy to be bothered..


    • DanaNM
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      Aww look at them 🙂

      I usually do 48 hours in neutral with plenty of positive behaviors and no aggression. In my experience they will seem to “click” when bonded and you will notice they are just really relaxed around each other. If they seem tense, they prob more time. That said, if you can keep supervising consistently you could try them after 24 hours and if they get too tense just move back to neutral.

      . . . 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.  


    • Susanne
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      That sounds good, like you said I can always move them back if they don’t do well in the semi neutral.

      I did almost 9 hours with them yesterday!  So just like the last long session, they got better as time went on. It took Ruby ~3 hours to chill, probably because again she wanted to sleep. The first 3 hours was a lot of nipping, I had to stop her aggressive chasing a couple times and she did get a chunk of his fur once. Once I had my hand (with glove) there and it felt like a decently forceful bite, but not full force. I think her issue is that he hasn’t groomed her yet.

      During the sleep they didn’t cuddle as much as last time, but would be within a couple feet of each other, both purr and go REM sleep twitchy so they must not have some trust.

      Once they started getting active again Ruby was not so bad. She did do a very short growl and half hearted lunge but I didn’t have to intervene since she stopped. So basically, we did about the last 5 hours without me intervening. I guess that is progress?

      I feel like they do tend to reset each meeting, so other than a couple short dates this week I think I may go forward and try a marathon later in the week during my holiday time off.  I can always cut it off if I don’t feel like I can trust them even if I’m in the room dozing off…


    • DanaNM
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      That sounds like very good progress!

      I think going from bickering to just relaxing and somewhat ignoring each other is a really great sign of progress. Don’t be concerned if in the marathon you notice some cycles of back and forth between bickering phases and ignoring each other phases. I’ve always noticed things can get especially tense in the evening and early morning hours. I like to have some new things to chew to introduce during those phases, or even topping up the hay with some fresh (so they can having something to do other than argue). My favorite was when I would bond at my friend’s house, she had all this bamboo growing in her yard that the buns loved, so I would pick a bunch of fresh leaves and sprigs for them anytime they started to get active 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.  


    • Susanne
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      Thanks for the tips, and thanks for keeping up here considering all the landlord stuff :/ I’m sure as they get bored and more active there could be some steps backwards but I’m hopeful we can have a successful marathon.

      A short report, I’m with them getting ready to wrap up a shorter session and for once they didn’t reset! I have not had to intervene at all. I came close a couple times but Ruby backed off rather than chase. She growled and lunged a couple times but didn’t actually nip him this time. They’ve mostly not interacted but are so much more comfortable sharing the space. Like sprawling out to rest instead of loafing, etc.

      She did the funniest thing, she kinda jerked quicky and went towards him.. sniffed near his side and I thought for sure she would nip.. then suddenly turned and flopped 🙂


    • DanaNM
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      You’re welcome! It’s nice having the forum to distract me from how much I miss my own buns.

      That’s awesome the shorter session went well! Maybe the longer one helped them get over a plateau. 🙂

       

      . . . 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.  


    • Susanne
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      We did another session last night. It started off good, and Maxwell groomed Ruby for the first time, so I thought this was great! But right after, he did a little run/ binky and I think it scared her, so she went after him.. which scared him.. then they seemed to go down a spiral of scaring/ defending themselves. I had to intervene multiple times since they started doing tight circles. It never got to the point where either nipped or bit hard, because no fur was pulled. In between these they both would lay relaxed a few feet apart or some head wars that didn’t escalate. Ruby seemed to start to get possessive of the area with hay tray (large shoe tray) and water bowl. Maxwell by the end was scared to go too close to her 🙁 I ended it when they were somewhat close and relaxed.

      I still want to start a marathon tomorrow, I hope they can settle again after a longer time?  It’s like they are doing the most positive behaviors but yet don’t understand each other so they scuffle too. Maxwell is more high energy so Ruby may not know how to interpret him. For the marathon, I plan to add a second tray with hay and second water bowl… I’ll have some toys nearby to switch out, etc. I don’t want to put a tunnel or hidey box because I’m scared Ruby will try to claim it, but I can add them if they start to make progress, does that sound ok? I plan to start late morning, and if I can trust them for me to sleep in the room once I need to sleep then I’ll keep them together, otherwise we’ll end a long session.


    • Susanne
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      Oh I forgot, at one point they were both on the hay tray eating together, so it was very back and forth with positive/ negative until by the end Maxwell gave up trying and she was getting possessive, etc.


    • DanaNM
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      Oooh, one thing is I usually don’t add hay trays or litter boxes until they are doing really well together. They do tend to cause disputes, as you noticed, but it’s really good they were able to share the tray a little! I usually just put down puppy pee pads with big pile of hay in the middle. It’s definitely kind of a mess unfortunately.

      I think you are good to start a marathon or at least plan an all day session, but I would probably not add any hay trays until they are doing really well and have been together a long time (like maybe after 24 hours or the first overnight). Also make sure they trays are either new or super clean.

      . . . 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.  


    • Susanne
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      Yeah, I used a very large tray thinking they would see it more as a “hay station” vs a litter box, but with this I’ll just do 2 stations of hay on a puppy pad to start tomorrow. Having 2 should help too I think.. It will be easier to clean for a long day/ marathon also!

      I don’t think the hay tray was the root cause of the scuffles, but I think it was secondary once the scuffles started. (since they both used it, and used it together a little) I noticed in other sessions as well, once they get on edge it starts to spiral. One session I startled them and they never got back on track. There was also a moment yesterday that I just remembered, Ruby did her “act like I might attack”, then flop right on his side thing again.. which scared him and that also started a little scuffle… So I KNOW they like each other, but are misreading. Or at least that is my human interpretation 🙂

      Wish me luck tomorrow, I will probably take tonight off so I can prep the area for us and possibly run errands for more supplies.


    • DanaNM
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      One of the leads at the rescue I volunteer at always says that “rabbits don’t speak rabbit”, and compared them all to 14 year olds at their first school dance LOL

      Good luck tomorrow! I agree taking a night off to prep is a good plan!

      . . . 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.  


    • Susanne
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      Well the marathon didn’t go forward 🙁  There was no way I could trust them even if I slept in the kitchen.  I pushed to 12 hours though. The session was mostly them far from each other doing their own thing, but almost each time Maxwell got too close Ruby nipped. Once, I had to stop a full blown fight. I put my gloved hand in front of Maxwell just in time, he latched onto my hand and bit me through the glove.. fell on his side kicking. She pulled some of his fur. Later she nipped and pulled fur again, and he stopped going near her. I decided I can’t allow the nipping, it was getting way too much and not helping sort out anything, just annoying Max.

      I could barely watch a show on my laptop or eat in the entire 12 hours, because when one was up the other down and constantly making sure Ruby didn’t nip. After I got more actively involved she still got a couple but no more fur pulled. I got them cheek to cheek a couple times for pets and they purred… but that was all of 20-30 minutes out of 12 hours. I’m feeling defeated and very frustrated after almost 24 total hours in the kitchen with them the past week. It’s only gone downhill, now I sit there while they don’t interact or have mostly negative interactions. I don’t have the resources to do this for months (not 15 hours per week), and I don’t have help or other neutral spaces that I can sit in for that many hours. I have the next 5 days off that I dedicated just for bonding so my next step is stress and maybe the bathtub.  Will they be OK in a carrier on the dryer? I’m also afraid to drive them alone. Then a small space where they interact more but I can stop all the nipping. My mom is coming over Sunday, and I was thinking about a long car ride. Ruby and Elmer did an hour ride home when I got her, and I’m sure that isn’t the only factor but thinking back and seeing the difference in this pair, they were almost an instant bond.

      If I can’t get anywhere in the next 5 days I have to decide what to do.  Do short sessions indefinitely even if it’s stagnant? Do short small/stress sessions for a while? Swap out Maxwell for a different bun? The whole reason I used the rescue far away was because they will swap.. honestly knowing how much easier it was with Elmer that seems more logical for everyone. The problem of course is now I am attached to Maxwell and the thought makes me cry. But I can’t indefinitely work with them, I need a life outside this, so if I keep him it’s looking like they could live separately, which defeats the purpose of getting her a new friend after being depressed over Elmer. Ugh.  Two separate rabbits has been exhausting I can’t imagine it long term.


    • DanaNM
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      Aww that’s such a bummer. I had a very similar experience when I tried to marathon to bond a trio. The two girls were behaving really similar to what you describe, where there was just no way I could handle an overnight.

      I think it’s good you have an option to swap, but I personally would try some stressing before resorting to that (especially since you really like Maxwell and want to make it work). I think a ride on the washing machine sounds like a good idea. You can get an idea on how they are in a stressful situation, and if they are OK in that you could feel safe enough to do a car ride. I usually like to use a big plastic tub instead of a carrier, because it can be hard to intervene in a carrier if they scuffle. You could test them out on the washing machine, and if they do OK do a car ride with your mom there.

      My very first bond was really hard (the buns in my avatar). Car rides at the suggestion of someone from a rescue were what finally got us moving forward (after several weeks/months of trying bathroom dates). I basically would do a 10 min car ride with them each day for about a week. That basically got them to stop fighting in the dates (they would just attack each other immediately before that). Then we had some weeks of stalemate where I stopped stressing them but they just ignored each other. Finally they “clicked” and were madly in love. It did take about 3 months of work, but I know I made a lot of mistakes in the beginning as I really didn’t know what I was doing.

      Is there anyone at the rescue that might be able to help you? Sometimes having a fresh set of eyes (and an impartial bonder) can really help. They may be able to give you a better idea of what to do and maybe even could help you with bonding.

      . . . 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.  


    • Susanne
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      Yes, exactly, and I won’t risk their safety of course since that is always the first priority.

      I actually just finished doing a very short stress session. I used the dryer first (they have a carrier that opens on top so I can easily intervene). They were fine there, they did press together a little and Maxwell was still trying to get out. Side note: he isn’t really scared of the carrier. All I have to do is put it down and he runs in every time. Luckily the problem child hates the carrier so it works out.

      Second I put them in the bathtub with pee pads and hay scattered. That was not the best idea.. they can jump out so most the time I was blocking them from trying. They stayed right together though the whole time. Ruby nipped once, but not hard, and from then on I had my hand in front of her mouth a lot (not the whole time). I just think she needs to get out of the habit before they will progress.  Once when she was pressed against him I was petting her, and she purred longer and louder than I think she ever has. Do they ever chatter teeth from stress or was she really happy? That said, I was glad they got some time close together but not sure how much it made a difference overall. I only had them there 20 min, partially because it was too awkward for me to keep them from jumping out. I think just doing the carrier stress, and short sessions for now is the way to go. I agree it’s worth giving this a fair shot before swapping, I really don’t know if I can let him go but a month or two more and I’ll either have to give up bonding or swap for my sanity 😉

      So their carrier should be fine in the car because of the top opening so a longer car ride is in my plans next. Also, I have a very large plastic tote that I can empty and use instead of the bathtub. I need something smallish where I can reach them, for now so that’s all I could think of.

      The rescue is 2 hours away, and they don’t have a facility they keep rabbits (all foster) but they do have a large room in an office building they use to bring rabbits to meet potential owners and speed dating. I could ask if they had a day it’s empty and if I can find help maybe bring them there for a long session to try and get over the hump. Unfortunately, I don’t think they have a bonding person to give any further advice or help.  So far, your advice has definitely been the most helpful. I think a lot of online advice, understandably so, caters to the easier bonds. Most people don’t have time and resources for the hard ones so I think most advice is to try different rabbits at this point. My situation is bordering on the “keep trying” and “give up it’s not worth it” advice depending which article I read.


    • DanaNM
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      It sounds like the stress session went pretty well! I think continuing that for a bit is a good plan. Some people will also walk around with the buns in a laundry basket, or vacuum around them while they are in a basket. I have noticed my buns chatter their teeth from frustration or stress occasionally, Myra has done it during grooming/nail trims!

      Short sessions can be a good way to break associations of fighting, especially if you are really aware of ending on a good note. That’s also what I had to do with Bunston and Bertha (my avatar buns), and then I slowly worked back up to longer dates. Doing multiple short sessions in a day can also work well if you have the time. I do recommend trying to use something else aside from your hand to block the biting! I’ve used a dust pan, and I’ve seen other people use a clip board or a mesh colander as well. If she responds to a spritz of water that may also help.

      The decision on when to keep trying and when to give up is such a personal one. It’s really tricky because if you swap, there’s no guarantee it would go easier, because it could be that Ruby is just a very discerning lady and has to make extra sure her new suitor meets her standards (and who can argue with that?). Plus when you factor in settling in and pre-bonding, even an easier bond could still be a good chunk of time.

      Bunston and Bertha took about 3 months and were bonded for about 6 years. When Bunston passed away, I rebonded her to a very shy bunny who I thought was submissive using the 24/7 method in about 6 days. But then that bond broke 5 months later because he decided he was not submissive and he bit her pretty badly. So then I swapped him with another bun (Moose), and bonded them over a couple weeks. Then poor Moose died suddenly about 6 months later.  🙁  Then I bonded her with Bun Jovi, who she had a really great date with, but it still took them 4 months! But then they were soooo closely bonded. Most pairings are possible, but some may not be worth the effort. Bun Jovi and Bertha were definitely worth it, and it seemed like the bonds that took me the most time were always the tightest. When Bertha passed away I rebonded Bun Jovi with Myra, and they were probably the easiest, only about 2 weeks of sessions with a 5 day marathon/cementing at the end and never any fighting, but after at least a month of pre-bonding.

      In all the hard bonds I’ve done that ended up successful, my gut just told me that they were going to be happy together, even though I doubted the process many times. With the bond that broke, I never felt fully sure of whether I was doing the right thing. I can’t really say what you should do, just wanted to share what I’ve experienced and encourage you to trust your gut! Perhaps if you commit to just doing very short sessions daily for a couple weeks it will feel less overwhelming and take some of the pressure off?

      . . . 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.  


    • Susanne
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      Thanks for the insights, you’ve had a lot of bonding situations! I also admire your patience and dedication. Sounds like Bunston and Bertha were similar to mine, except mine don’t start after each other immediately, it just naturally gets to a fight within the first 15 minutes.  I actually have also been using a dust pan to block her nipping/ fights. I’ve put my hand down when I don’t want to separate completely, or maybe just move her face from his belly area, and when it happened fast and I didn’t have the dust pan in hand. Agree the dust pan does do the trick when I’ve used it. I don’t think my aim or anticipation skills would work with a water spray bottle. (Her nips are hard to see coming).

      I agree that they probably can be bonded, but I’m not sure I’ll have enough resources for this one (my time, new neutral spaces, patience, stress tolerance etc). One minute my gut says they will work it out and be happy, then the next it feels like she just doesn’t like Maxwell.  I wonder if she is like “you’re not Elmer, ugh” . She was so in love with him from the start (and even in my limited rabbit owning experience it was obvious).  I know what you mean about swapping, who knows she will be the same as she is towards Max,  or how she was with Elmer, or something else.  I’m sure there is somebun out there she would have better chemistry with. But I would be looking at potentially even longer and potentially more swaps to find a better match, etc.

      I didn’t realize some buns would chatter teeth over stress, but since I found it odd enough to ask, It was probably stress today. Poor thing.  That said, I could do 2 short tote or carrier sessions per day based on my schedule, but I’m also worried to push Ruby too far as she does get stressed easily and like with the medication ordeal can affect her for quite a while after an incident.  I don’t even pick her up hardly at all anymore, mostly just corner her and force her in the carrier. Maybe I’ll try 2 tomorrow and see how she does. The dryer seemed to work fine, walking them in the carrier seems ok (I don’t even own a laundry basket :)) but Maxwell just tries to climb out.  I only had them on the dryer for 2 minutes, should I do longer? I’m thinking the car ride with my mom can be pushed pretty long, maybe an hour. She likes to talk which also makes Ruby more scared haha.

      It really will come down to whether or not a couple weeks of stress and short small space sessions changes the dynamics. It is interesting how different bonding methods work for different buns.  Even if they don’t bond right away, getting them pushed past the point they are at would really help!


    • Susanne
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      Day 2 of stress bonding went ok. I did put them in the carrier together for a couple minutes last night, then today on the dryer for 5 min. They do seem to huddle together (don’t have much choice) while in the carrier together. Then I did 20 minutes in a small space. It was a storage ottoman, but again they were mostly trying to get out. I may try putting it up on the table next time.

      It’s only been 2 days so it’s hard to see if this is helping. Poor Ruby was shaking today and eventually tried to nip him again multiple times. By the end he was laying with his head under her chin as she sat up.

      Should we just do like 15 min on the dryer and put them back separate or keep doing this? I wonder if even the small space won’t help if she keeps nipping.

       

       


    • DanaNM
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      I think since you are working to break a cycle of fighting, I would probably just stick to short stressing-only sessions for a couple days, before trying to do a small space session after. OR, you could do a stress-sandwich, where you walk them around in a carrier for a few minutes, do a some minutes of no stress, then a few more minutes walking around, then end it.

      You definitely want to keep an eye on them to make sure they aren’t getting TOO stressed, as you mentioned.

      A car ride could be really good as well, and would give you a sense as to whether they will fight in the car 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.  


    • Susanne
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      Ok I will keep up stress only. That is exactly what I did last night, put them in the carrier and walked up and down the steps. It was good exercise too!  After the steps I sat them on my lap to calm down and see how they were, but they were just shaking and Ruby started leaning on the side of the carrier instead of Max :(.   I’ll do the car today and a few more days of indoor stress bonding then try a small space again. As of now I don’t think Ruby is too stressed since she is still eating normally. I hate seeing her all shaking though.

       


    • Susanne
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      Not much of an update but so I can help myself keep track: we did day 3 of stress bonding today. About 50 min in the car. They didnt lean together as much as I’d hoped, but they were still forced to be against each other. No fighting or nipping that I saw. At times Ruby was half on top of him trying to get out.

      How many days of these carrier only sessions seems good?  Is the dryer good enough for the rest or should I try and take them for a drive since they have not fought in the carrier?

      So far so good for them recovering. Both got up from afternoon nap and eating / using litter box as normal.


    • DanaNM
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      That’s great they did well in the car! Most buns don’t seem to get overly stressed from car travel, which is nice. I used to be so afraid of driving my buns anywhere, but after driving cross country with mine I’m a lot less worried about it! LOL

      I think dryer or car is up to you. Do you think they did better in one over the other? I also think it’s up to you when to try a normal session again. I think I’d be kind of curious to see how they do in a normal date since they had that long car ride. Maybe next session do a short car or dryer ride and follow up with a short regular session?

       

      . . . 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.  


    • Susanne
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      I’m curious too, but also scared that they will still have issues! I did another dryer session this morning and walked around with them, then had them on my lap for a bit. They seemed about the same as in the car.

      Anyway, so I guess I’ll start them in the carrier next time (tonight or tomorrow), then put them in the ottoman thing and see how they do.


    • DanaNM
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      Sounds like a plan!

      . . . 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.  


    • Susanne
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      Well I tried the plan. Put them on the dryer a couple minutes, walked around then pet them in the carrier on my lap. After a few min I put them in the small area. They ignored each other, eventually when Max came close she growled and nipped a couple times again 🙁

      He went and layed in a corner. I picked her up and put them side by side and started petting them. They both seemed ok with that so I continued a few minutes then eventually put them back. They were in the space 15 minutes.

      I’m not sure what to do, really nothing has changed. I’m thinking do what I did today for another few days just once per day as Ruby is starting to get really stressed. I’m not feeling hopeful though 🙁

       

       


    • Susanne
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      I think this is day 5 with some stress bonding. Today I did the same as yesterday, one session starting on the dryer for 5 min, then down to the ottoman. This time Ruby didn’t nip. They were in there about 15 minutes without much interaction. One head war and I petted them. Then put them side by side again for pets before taking back upstairs.

      I plan to do this at least a couple more days. Hopefully this gets Ruby to feel more trust. Only one per day to minimize the stress on Ruby since it usually takes her several hours after to come out and eat or anything.


    • DanaNM
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      No nipping is good! I don’t have much to say except I think you’re doing a great job!

      . . . 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.  


    • Susanne
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      Thanks! It’s been hard and really hope the no nipping today becomes the norm. I know all my posts don’t warrant a response but trying to keep it as a detailed journal as well as for help along the way 🙂

       


    • Susanne
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      Day 6 of stress + small space session. It was about the same as yesterday, I was petting a lot to try and break the nipping habit. There was a half cuddle for about 10 minutes. She didn’t nip until the end, when I tried to pick up Max to get him out of the ottoman, as he moved she nipped with a growl. I put him down for a sec so it didn’t end that way, and she went again for his face (I don’t think she actually nipped him), the a couple more head lunges that I put my hand in front of and said “No”.   Once she stopped he went up to her, and I was right there just petting them, and had them sort of close and petting them, put them back in the carrier side by side and pet a little more, then took them back home.

      It really still doesn’t seem like anything is different. I stop the nipping but it seems like they would act exactly as before if I let them. It’s very discouraging. I don’t like stressing them every day either, so after a couple more days I will likely just do small space and short, but it’s not feeling like it’s going to get better 🙁


    • DanaNM
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      I’m sorry you aren’t seeing improvements. 🙁

      The only thing I can think of to try is to try a date in a completely new place, and possibly in a much larger space. Rabbits are super smell oriented, and so if the “neutral” space still smells like your house, they will not see it as completely neutral. I’ve found this seems especially important when bringing a male into a female’s house, because females tend to be more territorial. I also had bad luck with small spaces in all of my bonds, and usually made much better progress when I was in a large space. Not sure if that’s an option for you, but I would take my buns to my friend’s house and bond in her garage (this was in CA so the weather was cooperative).

      All of that said though, you have certainly put in some effort and no one would blame you if you wanted to swap for a different bunny. Maxwell has had a nice “vacation” with you and a break from the shelter, and I’m sure any info you can give the shelter about him will help him get adopted.

      . . . 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.  


    • Susanne
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      Yeah it’s hard. Well when I started in the kitchen, it’s a pretty large area and on another floor from their space, so I think it was very neutral and large enough. They didn’t do well there (they did at first but deteriorated), and it was too hard to stop the fur pulling. I like the small space because I can stop it. I don’t have an option to go anywhere else as all my friends and family have cats or dogs and/or not good spaces.  I do have another room downstairs, plus a garage (it gets too cold at night) but those aren’t places I could stay for more than a couple hours at a time. It doesn’t seem to me (although I don’t speak bunny!) to be as territorial related as trust or maybe just personality related.

      It just sucks because I can get them to cuddle a little, and Ruby even grooms him a little, but now that Maxwell is tired of the nipping I don’t think he’ll groom her again. And even when he did it wasn’t good enough for her. He did the one time and I feel like it could work if she would back off.

      The rescue does foster, so at least he’d be back in a foster home vs a shelter, but being attached to him and knowing he would probably be happier here is very hard. I’m probably going to do the small space for another week or so before I call it. Maybe take them to the downstairs room once.  It’s hard to not be emotional, but if I take a step back, I realize this was all done for Ruby to have company after Elmer passed, and now it’s been over 2 months with no end in sight. And I’ve seen her bond quickly and so swapping probably is the way to go.

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