You bring your new bunnies home and you’ve placed them in their new home. Then you give them time to settle. Several hours later, you come back and try to interact with them and you realise one thing. They don’t seem interested in you!
That can be considered normal. Even when bonding two rabbits together, a lack of interest in one another is considered a good sign. The problem arises when they actively attack or avoid you at first sight or if after a few weeks, they still haven’t warmed up to you.
Bonding with your bunny is so important because they are, for the most part, silent creatures. Dogs and cats can call for your attention but it is all too easy to forget an animal that isn’t interested in you and cannot meow or bark to catch your attention. Not having a good relationship with your bunnies may mean that you might unintentionally neglect them, particularly if they are hutch bunnies.
So what I’ve done here is give you 5 ways on how you might increase that special bond between you and your pet. You cannot force a person to like you and it’s the same with bunnies BUT you can improve your chances. Make sure you also check out my other post about turning your rabbit into a happy bunny in 5 steps.
1. Take things slow when bonding with your bunny
Serious. You rush into things, you will make mistakes. Rabbits have long memories and they hold grudges. I’m not joking. If I annoy my bunnies at the start of a play time session, they are more likely to give me bunny attitude for the rest of our play time. So the first thing you must know about bonding with your bunny is that you should not rush it. Take it slowly and let your bunny choose the pace. If you do move things along too quick, be ready to take a step back. You may be lucky and develop a good bond within a week but it can take months and you may find that your bunny might never like being picked up etc. no matter how good your bond gets.
2. Get down on their level
To your new bunny friend, at first sight, you look scary. For all he knows, you probably want rabbit stew later, so he will play it safe. In the rabbit world, big moving things are scary. Luckily for you, rabbits may be wary but they are also curious. If you were at bunny level, your threat factor goes down and your rabbit will want to know who and what you are.
When I was bonding with my bunnies, I laid on the floor and kept very still. My bunnies left me alone for a bit but when they realised I was not going to move, they came over and started investigating. Don’t be afraid if your rabbit nudges you, sniffs you or tries to climb on you, that is all part of him trying to understand you. One time I was on all fours cleaning and Summer jumped on my back for a piggy ride. When they are comfortable with your presence and scent, you can sit up. I find my bunnies still prefer it if I am closer to the floor.
3. Don’t pick your bunny up
Unless you absolutely need to, don’t pick the cute bunny up. I know they look like fluffy cute soft toys but when you’re being kicked at, they won’t look so cute anymore. Most of the time, a new bunny is not going to be impressed. You get some rabbits that enjoy being picked up but that’s likely due to the trust they have for their owners. Bunnies generally disliked being picked up because to them it feels like a predator has just picked them up. A scary situation which can force you to take steps back when bonding with your bunny, trust may have to be re-established. Sometimes, you will have to pick up your rabbit, for health checks etc. but try to keep these encounters positive with soft words and treats.
4. Bond with your bunny through food
The way to a bunny’s heart is with food. Rabbits are grazers and eat throughout the day. You give them food, they love you more. Try feeding their pellets on the palm of your hand. That helps build trust. Once your rabbits are more comfortable with you, you can try holding their food by your shoulder whilst sitting on the floor. This means your bunny has to sit on you or use you as support to get to the food. I like to hold some greens or a bit of broccoli. It’s also great fun to make them work harder for their food. You can also teach them their names and to come when called with the use of food. Just bear in mind not to use sugary snacks and not to overfeed your bunny. Here is a list of vegetables you can offer your rabbit.
Another method is to go down to bunny level and hold a piece of hay between your lips. My bunnies believe that if I am about to eat it, it must be nice and almost always snatch that piece of hay off me. It’s a decent method of bonding with your bunny that means you can get quite close to them.
5. Speak softly
Rabbits have excellent hearing. This means no shouting, you will scare your new friend. Instead, talk to them softly. Get them used to your voice so they can associate it with being safe. You can talk to them when they are in their cage or when they are walking about.
There are probably other ways you can bond with your bunny but this is the basic five that you can begin with. As soon as your new bunny has settled in, you can begin bonding with your bunny using any of the suggestions listed here. Please feel free to comment below on any of your methods of bonding with your bunny. Let me know what you think of the suggestions outlined here!