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Forum BONDING Trio bonding… again (Myra, Bonnie, Cooper)

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    • DanaNM
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        I wasn’t sure if I was going to journal this, but I figure I might as well. Since Bun Jovi passed we would like to bond Myra (spayed F) with Cooper (neutered M) and Bonnie (spayed F). I’ve been working with them for almost 2 weeks. When I moved Myra into the room with the others Cooper immediately started chasing Bonnie so I opted to separate them. They are in 3 separate pens and I rotate them daily. I didn’t really do normal pre-bonding and just jumped into sessions because when I was trying to bond the quad a couple years ago these three didn’t have very many issues. Here’s the summary so far:
        day 1 : 30 min, some grooming stand-offs, boxing from girls, a little tense
        day 2: 1 hr, grooming stand offs, lots of mounting attempts from Coop. Coop mounting causing girls to run, and then referred aggression at each other, no serious fighting.
        Day 3: 2 hrs, more of the same, but eventually (after ran hour) buns relaxed a bit. Still some mounting attempts from Coop but less vigorous chasing.

        Day 4: 2 hrs, Cooper and Bonnie were much better, cuddled and groomed for a bit. Cooper’s humping attempts maybe a bit less persistent with Myra but still some chasing that had to be stopped. One seemingly random scuffle between Myra and Bonnie, but mostly kept their distance from each other. Chases happened when Coop would chase Myra and she’d run by Bonnie.

        Skipped a day or two
        Day 5: Decided to do 2 hr car ride followed by ~ 10 hrs; moved to a dif bonding location, much more calm, less mounting from Coop! Myra groomed coop towards the end
        Day 6: 1 hr car ride followed by 7 hrs upstairs, again calm, less mounting
        Skipped a day
        Day 7: 1.5 hrs – walked around the house with them in the bin for a few minutes, then moved upstairs. Some mounting from Coop at first, then grooming request from Myra about 15 min in, she eventually groomed a little.
        Day 8: Thursday 3 hrs- repeated date 7, similar behaviors to date 7 with some Coop mounting alternating with cuddling with the girls</p>
        Friday and Saturday- skipped, life got in the way
        Sunday, session 9: 8 pm -3 am. Similar behaviors as last time, a couple tiffs between the girls. I had intended to keep them overnight but it was not going smoothly enough for me to feel like pushing through.
        Monday: Session 10: 12:30 pm start time. around 5 pm – scuffling between the three, mostly instigated by Coop. by 6:60 pm, girls mostly ignoring each other. Some mirroring of self grooming; ended around 7 pm. then at 9 pm restarted with just the two girls. Did some petting at first, they were calm most of the date.

        Tuesday Session 11: 1 pm – Decided to do more work with just girls. Ignored each other at first. More scuffling than there has been (3 in the first couple hours, after a bit longer they settled and are just sleeping on opp sides of the pen).

        We’re basically in a bit of a stalemate with the girls, where I don’t really see their behaviors changing very much. The scuffle a little each session, then go to their separate sides. They are mostly respectful of each other’s space, but I’m hoping they don’t get locked in this tolerance phase.

        . . . 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.  


      • LBJ10
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          Do you think Cooper is fueling the tension between Myra and Bonnie?


          • DanaNM
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              Could be! When I did the second session with just the girls and it was actually worse, so now I just don’t know. Sometimes I think Cooper is stirring them up, but then he also does distract them from each other a bit so it goes both ways with him.

              I had to pause sessions because I had to go out of town for work. I also noticed Myra had a little scratch on her face… Bonnie tends to nip at the face which makes me nervous. When I get home I think I’m going to try making the bonding area bigger again and maybe change up the location. I would also like to add in some new tunnels and obstacles to keep them more interested in the space.

              They do generally seem to get better over longer sessions.  Going back to long sessions is probably the way to go, but I also think I’d like to see more positives from the girls before going to another overnight. I don’t have the stamina for this that I used to! I’m trying to take my own advice and be patient but it’s hard! 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.  


          • LBJ10
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              Two girls can be difficult, so don’t be too hard on yourself. I think a larger area may be what’s needed. The more they can spread out and get away from each other when they want to, the more likely you will see tolerance behaviors.


            • DanaNM
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                Trying again with a larger bonding area. I was out of town for a week so things backtracked a little (although hubby did do 1 session with them thankfully), but I’m going to try to marathon again as they usually seem to get better the longer I can have them together. I have 5 days until I start my new job… so hoping for a miracle LOL. I don’t think I’ll have that much time off in a row for a while so I figured I should give it a shot. Basically if they are showing signs of improvement over the next 24-48 hours I am going to keep them together, but if the first 2 nights are rough and they aren’t improving I will go back to the slow approach (or reassess whether this trio is actually going to happen).

                Coop is causing a little drama but hopefully they get it out of their system. Both girls have groomed him but he’s very demanding!

                . . . 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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                  Welp, that didn’t go well at ALL. 😥

                  Everything was going fine until about 3 am. Then seemingly out of nowhere Myra started really instigating fights with Bonnie, which then caused Coop to get involved an all fired up (he tends to really fight aggressively when he fights). Some of the worst fighting I’ve seen since starting to work with them. I know that bonding can often be 2 steps forward 1 step back, but I think I’m going to pause bonding for now as it’s clear my current strategy isn’t working. I really haven’t seen any positives between the girls aside from tolerance at first, but that then deteriorates. I am also probably not in the right head space for a tough bonding process.

                  Considering how easily Myra bonded with Coop and Bun Jovi, and how easily Bonnie bonded with Coop and Bun Jovi, it seems to me that they may just not be a good match. It’s weird because they don’t immediately attack each other and will give each other their space at first, but as the sessions get longer they become a lot less tolerant.

                  For now I’m going to to focus on re-bonding Coop and Bonnie so I can move them to the bunny room, and am going to move Myra back to the living room. The rescue here is considering spinning up bonding services, so I may enlist someone’s help in a few months if I still want to try. Or I will adopt another bun for Myra, but want to give it some time before I make that call.

                  . . . 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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                    Testing..


                  • Susanne ST
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                      Testing..


                    • Susanne
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                        Do the replies work yet? I am still working on a trio and wanted to post.


                      • Bam
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                          Hi Susanne! Posting works and we’d be delighted to hear about your trio!


                        • Susanne
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                            Hi Bam! Sorry for the multiple posts, I got an error each time so it didn’t look like anything went through!

                            I wanted to post on here first to say sorry about Bun Jovi. 🙁   With mine I started for a few weeks but things were not good so then took a long break (6 weeks or more), while my pair and the single lived with a barrier separating them and it seems like the extra time waiting did help. Sounds like a broken bond here making that option not really an option for Dana. I can give more details about my trio on the post I started a few months ago!


                          • DanaNM
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                              Thank you Susanne <3

                              Yeah it’s tough because I had to separate Coop and Bonnie, and there isn’t a ton of space 3 pens to be in one room, and it’s difficult to let them exercise that way. But then I’m very sad to see Myra alone in the other room, while simultaneously being happy to have her back in the living room? Its hard to not feel like a failure but I feel like I just don’t have the stamina right now. 🙁

                              . . . 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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                                It’s definitely nothing you have done wrong! They aren’t ready yet, maybe Myra is still grieving and needs the space, or maybe the 3 just aren’t meant to be. It seems like trios don’t work out often and it’s understandable you can’t give up your entire life indefinitely to try and bond them all. I hope Cooper and Bonnie can be re-bonded quickly, and I’m sure you’ll figure out the best thing for everyone in time. It is sad about Myra being alone but I’m sure she will love all of the attention being in the living room for now! I tried fast tracking my 3 and now I’m trying very hard to take it slowwww, because I don’t have the stamina for long and or daily sessions now either.. keep my life balanced and they can slowly bond or not. Trying to remember that bonding can be easy, and if getting a 4th rabbit is a better solution and trialing mates with our singles when we are ready makes it easier for everyone, then nothing wrong with that.


                                • DanaNM
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                                    Thank you, this part “I tried fast tracking my 3 and now I’m trying very hard to take it slowwww, because I don’t have the stamina for long and or daily sessions now either.. keep my life balanced and they can slowly bond or not. ” is especially true. I had basically a month where I had time to work with them in longer sessions and it seemed like we were making progress at first, but then things got worse again. So I think it’s either going to be slow and steady or not at all.

                                    I feel sad for Myra this week because my husband (who’s office is next to the living room) is out of town and I have to go into work in person so she’s been alone a lot. 🙁 But I just can’t bring another bun home until I get Bonnie and Cooper back together and I know for sure that’s what I want to do. I was really hoping for a trio so that I could spend more time with all of them, but that’s seeming less and less likely.

                                    . . . 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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                                      It seems the same thing happened to mine. Pushing longer sessions seemed to make things deteriorate, even though they were never great to begin with. I thought about just stopping the foster to adopt and foster the new 3rd, but I didn’t have the heart lol.

                                      Could you give Myra some time in the room with Cooper (seems like even being able to see each other helps with companionship) and have Bonnie take a turn in the living room? Or rotate all 3 (until you start to re-bond the pair)? Or do you think that would make it harder to re-bond?

                                      I would guess getting Bonnie and Cooper back together wouldn’t be too difficult once you start, although these bunnies are very unpredictable!


                                    • DanaNM
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                                        Not a bad idea but I think Bonnie would be very depressed if I separated her from Cooper. Their bond wasn’t totally broken, it’s just that with Myra in the room there was a lot of referred aggression and mounting from Coop so it wasn’t safe to keep them together. With that set-up one bun was in the same room but not perfectly side by side, and when it was Bonnie in that more isolated spot she seemed very sad. 🙁

                                        . . . 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 makes sense. I wouldn’t want to separate them either in that case.


                                      • DanaNM
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                                          After a few days at my new job I decided I want to keep trying for the trio because it’s really hard to spent time with the buns in different areas of the house now that I’m not working from home every day, but I’m going to have to rethink their housing set ups during bonding. Having all three in the kitchen wasn’t working, but having them split between rooms isn’t great for bonding (and Myra is likely bored and lonely). I am thinking I can try all 3 in the living room, but will have to make their pens smaller than I’d like to, and that means it will be harder to let them out for exercise.

                                          Anyone have creative ideas for 3 side by side pens? In the past I’ve built condos…but they can be really hard to clean and this is hopefully only temporary. plus the area I’m considering wouldn’t really work for a condo as it’s going to be in front of a bookshelf that we need to access.

                                          . . . 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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                                            Sounds like a good plan! If there is any furniture you could move out temporarily, that’s what I would do (I’ve had a lot of temporary set ups the last few years haha). Can you split areas with gates?

                                            Also, I had an extra bed frame in my basement with the bunnies. I ended up putting big pieces of cardboard on it so they could have another “floor” (not that they need more space)… But they seem to like it. Any kind of table or platform, even a piece of plywood from the store and makeshift legs could work. I have cardboard cat house thing they can use as a step. I will try and attach a picture, granted I have a big area but maybe the idea could work on a smaller scale.


                                          • DanaNM
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                                              That’s a neat idea with the bed frame! I’d like to avoid splitting the area with fencing and gates if possible… we already have so many gates! We will have a roommate for a few months and I don’t want to subject her to our craziness lol.  I think in order for me to not give up the set-up has to feel very “live-able”.

                                              Maybe I need to consult my architect friend 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.  


                                            • Susanne
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                                                I understand the dilemma! That is a good idea to consult an architect, lol.


                                                • DanaNM
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                                                    I did some measuring and if I reduce their pens to 2 ft x 6 ft (which seems so small to me lol) I can fit them all in the living room pretty easily. So maybe I’ll give that a go?

                                                    All of their heels have gotten calluses from all the bonding sessions on hard flooring so I can also add extra soft flooring in there to help their feet heal 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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                                                    It is pretty small, but temporarily giving them space near each other and since they will rotate having time out to exercise, seems like it could work. I know with mine, I’d worry about them having too much pent up energy and being counter productive, but I think you will be able to sense if it starts to get to that point.


                                                  • LBJ10
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                                                      I think it will be fine if it is just temporary. Hopefully you can at least get Bonnie and Cooper back together. Do you think Bonnie and Cooper understand that Bun Jovi is gone? Perhaps Myra is still grieving and her energy is different. Maybe she isn’t open to having a relationship with another bunny… let alone two.


                                                    • DanaNM
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                                                        They are now all set up in the living room, and I think it’s for the best for now. The nice thing is they are all waaaay more active exploring the room, and I think being exposed to each other is going to be helpful.

                                                        I head to sea for work for 2 weeks so hubby is going to rotate them every few days. We are aiming to give each bun at least 4 hrs of roam time per day but some days it will be closer to 2, which is far from ideal. However, I notice during that time the buns are zooming and running around, so at least they are making the most of the time! In the past I’d open the pens and they would just lay around.

                                                        . . . 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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                                                          Here’s the new set-up (Myra’s turn to exercise):

                                                          . . . 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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                                                            Looks good, I hope it helps with the bonding!!


                                                          • DanaNM
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                                                              Thank you! I am still really second guessing whether this is the best thing to do (or whether I should just go back to the way things were). There is a lot of discouraging info online about trios… 😕

                                                              I am planning a consult with a bonding person at the rescue here. I think getting an outside perspective on their behavior will be helpful.  It has been trickier to give them all exercise time in the same room, as I expected, but it has also been nice hanging out with them on the couch.

                                                              I’m hoping this additional prebonding does help. I am planning to start doing some very short daily bathroom sessions with just the pairs in dif combos once the girls calm down with the pre-bonding (they are still running the fence etc.).

                                                              . . . 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 can totally relate, I read all of that too. Well, it doesn’t hurt to try is what I’ve been thinking, if you’re ok with waiting and adjusting as you go. Maybe it just takes longer and more experimenting with different approaches. That also is the big reason I tried the unconventional, and very slow approach of doing the bonding sessions with a barrier. I do think extra prebonding will help as mine seemed better when starting over after a couple months.

                                                                I wanted to do another easy barrier session with the boys tonight (I sense that the more often I can do that the better) but got sidetracked – found 2 (few day old?) ducklings that appeared abandoned. Caught them and delt with that last night and this morning. They are now with a wildlife rehabber but that took a lot out of me lol.


                                                              • DanaNM
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                                                                  omg ducklings?!  that’s great you were able to help them!

                                                                  And you’re right, at this point the damage to Coop and Bonnie’s bond has been done so might as well keep trying! I’m tempted to do some easy sessions this weekend with mine but I think i’m going to wait till they are settled with the side-by-side pens. Gotta take my own advice!

                                                                   

                                                                  . . . 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 was stressful but they were sooo cute!!

                                                                    It’s so hard to avoid the temptation, I have backtracked on what I had in my head so many times out of being impatient lol.


                                                                  • DanaNM
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                                                                      I had the consult with the bonding specialist yesterday and I think it was helpful! She thinks that working with them in pairs is the way to go, and recommended doing short sessions as often as possible. While she was here we put Bonnie and Myra in a pen in the bathroom (they hadn’t been there before) and did lots of petting when they approached each other.  Bonnie actually groomed Myra for a second! I couldn’t believe it! I think Bonnie even forgot herself for a second LOL. So I call that a win and will be trying to repeat that as much as possible. It’s also possible that the new housing set-up has helped.

                                                                      She also suggested having two people so one of us can be on each side of the pen. That way we can intervene very easily without being in the pen with them. For short sessions this should be much easier to manage.

                                                                      Then we swapped Bonnie for Cooper (so it was Cooper + Myra), and they also did well. The bonder suggested doing pairs just like that where I do all the combos in a row for short sessions. She also suggested getting a stuffy to swap between the girls, so I did that as well.

                                                                      She said she thinks they are like 85% of the way there, but still thought it could take a while to get them the rest of the way, so I’m ready for it to take a long time. I may have to travel for work next week so if that’s for sure I probably won’t start really doing sessions again until I get back.

                                                                      It was nice to have an outside perspective and confirmation that working with them 2 at a time is prob the right move for now. 🙂

                                                                      . . . 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 really hopeful! It does seem easier only having 2 to work with, and could totally see how that would work with certain bunny personalities. That’s great to see a little groom, those small wins count!


                                                                      • DanaNM
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                                                                          Well it’s been over 2 weeks and I haven’t worked with them at all. Combo of being busy with work and just not being motivated to work with them. But simultaneously I realize the current situation (no one is really gettting enough exercise) isn’t good long term!

                                                                          I’ve reached back out to the bonders to see when their availability is, it seems like realistically getting some help is going to be important to move things forward. I really need to get into the habit of working with them, but it’s been tough! Especially now with the summer weather the last thing I want to do after work is sit in my bathroom supervising bunnies. 🙄

                                                                          . . . 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 can relate to that!


                                                                          • DanaNM
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                                                                              So, the last week or so I’ve been working with the buns again. Not exactly daily, but maybe 5 out of the last 7 days. Started with 15 min sessions for each pair, lots of petting. Now am at 30 min sessions for the M-F pairs and 30 min- 1.5 hrs for the girls.

                                                                              The sessions with Cooper and Myra are great. They snuggle and groom each other almost the whole time.

                                                                              Cooper and Bonnie are pretty good, but there’s a lot more mounting attempts from both Cooper and Bonnie.

                                                                              Myra and Bonnie are OK. Bonnie usually tries to nip at first so I have to pet a lot to stop it. Then they’ve been settling down apart from each other and spend the rest of the session like that. This is very similar to how they were in the longer sessions.

                                                                              I have a plan to take them to the bonders in Aug as I will be out of town for 6 days or so. I am hoping I can get them pretty far along before they go to her… I think I need a breakthrough with the girls though if I’m going to feel optimistic.

                                                                              I’ve decided if they don’t make real progress with her I’m going to quit trying the trio. I’m wondering if I should have a backup plan for her to work with one of the pairs if the girls aren’t progressing? It kind of breaks my heart, but Myra and Cooper seem like a love at first sight pair (they were like this when I first tried to bond the quad with Bun Jovi years ago). Would it be better to re-bond Cooper to Bonnie, or bond him to Myra? I would end up getting a 4th for the solo bun either way.

                                                                              Cooper and Bonnie have had some hiccups in their bond, with lots of food-aggression from Cooper, but idk if that’s just him, or if it’s a consequence of their bond not being as strong? I would feel sad separating Bonnie, but I’m trying to go the path of least resistance here, and I would get her a companion once the other bond was cemented.

                                                                               

                                                                              . . . 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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                                                                                These are such unique situations with trios! I hope yours do better than mine this round. If not, I personally would lean towards the least resistance as well, and put Cooper back with Myra. Somehow I think of we end up adding a 4th to our trios it will feel so easy compared to the current situation! Haha. I understand the motivation to have a trio, though, and for a short while with a 4th separate bunny (or one extra area to maintain), would be a lot of work..


                                                                              • DanaNM
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                                                                                  After the bonding session last week Cooper and Bonnie did well so now I think I would just go with them, LOL. I think I’m just ready to have the buns in a “settled” situation, as the current housing set-up is not good for them long-term. No one is getting enough interaction or exercise, and although a trio would be ideal, going back to two pairs would at least mean everyone would get enough space and exercise.

                                                                                  Plus there are of course some very cute male buns available for adoption…. 😎

                                                                                   

                                                                                  . . . 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 makes total sense!


                                                                                  • DanaNM
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                                                                                      I’ve been doing some sessions when I can and they have been mostly peaceful. Yesterday I started out with Bonnie and Cooper together for about 2 hrs. They mostly cuddled the whole time. Since they were so relaxed I decided to try adding Myra back in, and it was mostly good. Bonnie kept sleeping, Myra ignored her, and Cooper had some normal grooming/mounting interactions with Myra, that settled down after a few minutes. The three were together for about an hour.

                                                                                      I’m taking them to the bonder this Sunday, I’m really hoping for a breakthrough with these girls!!!

                                                                                      . . . 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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                                                                                        Well, I am officially throwing in the towel. At the bonder’s the girls were basically fighting every 20 minutes for the first 48 hrs, so we agreed it was not a good match. She said that usually in a new place it helps them bond together, but the girls showed no interest in being bonded. She was open to keep trying if I wanted to but I felt that this was the final shot at making it work and if it was going to make a difference it would have right away. She said Cooper and Bonnie were acting very happily bonded so she just kept them together and kept Myra in a separate pen.

                                                                                        So, Cooper and Bonnie are in the living room and Myra is in the kitchen. Everyone seems very happy and relaxed, and relieved to have more space again.

                                                                                        What an ordeal! I feel somewhat bad for putting them through all of that but I did feel like I had to at least try. Thankful to have things back in order again though.

                                                                                        . . . 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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                                                                                          Wow, I’m surprised a new location didn’t help! I’m sorry it didn’t work out, I can empathize.  I agree with trying any options before giving up, but at some point it’s just too stressful when it goes nowhere. It sounds like everyone is happier now.

                                                                                          I’ve not tried mine again lately, but I don’t imagine they would be any better than before.

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                                                                                      Forum BONDING Trio bonding… again (Myra, Bonnie, Cooper)