One of the most interesting discovery for pet rabbits owners is that their rabbits can be trained. This is something that most pet rabbits owners are not aware of and also part of the reason why rabbits are kept outdoors. Keeping rabbits indoor can be a fun way to interact with your pet rabbits and if your rabbits have been properly trained, they are not likely to create a lot of mess for you.
There are some established methods to train a pet rabbit, and in this article we shall share some of these methods with you. Training rabbit to use the litter box is not that difficult and you may even train your rabbit to do bunny tricks such as jumping over a mini hoola hoop, over a fence, stand on its hind legs and doing a spin.
How to Litter-Box Train Your Rabbit
The first and most important key to successfully training your rabbit to use the litter box is to respect your pet rabbit’s cage. If your pet rabbit treat his cage as not just a cage but as a safe haven, then you will be able to easily litter box train your rabbit. It is therefore important to respect your rabbits when he is in his cage such as not forcing him out of his cage when he does not want to. Instead, you should gently coax him.
If you are already using a rabbit cage with a pull-out tray and wire floor, then you may not need to put in a litter box into the cage. This is to enable more space for your rabbits while they are in the cage. You will find that most of the times, your rabbit will likely use the same corner within the cage to do their business.
Training your rabbits to use the litter box in a rabbit hutch consists of just putting some of their poo and soaking a piece of tissue with their urine and putting it into the litter box. You may want to line up some litter (more on this later) and hay in the litter box.
Every morning as you go to check on your rabbits, gently put him onto the litter box. You may want to put a wired floor over the litter box so that the rabbit may be able to stand on it and so that the soil will not dirty him. Rabbits love to stare at you in their litter box, you may just talk softly to them and may even hold a piece of carrot for him to nib on.
Rabbits are habitual creatures. Once you are able to establish their routine, it is easier to train them to use the litter box. Find out more on what is the usual time they will do their toilet. Putting them on the litter box at those time will encourage them to use the litter box.
Sometimes, it may not be that easy for you to train your rabbits to use the litter box, especially if the cage is a bit too small and your rabbits are taking that the litter box is an intrusion into his private space. If that is the case, you may want to train him to use the litter box out of the cage.
Training your rabbit to use the litter box that is out of cage hinges on how well you are able to observe your rabbits’ habit. If your rabbits always love to poo and wee at a certain corner of your living room, put a litter box there. If you find that it is not a convenient place to put a litter box, put something such as a flower pot to block off that area. Your pet rabbits are not likely to be happy of course, but pet ownership always means you calling the shot and not your rabbits. After a while, they will find their new rhythm.
To train your rabbit to use a out-of-cage litter box, place the litter box at a corner of the room. As described above, you would want to line the litter box with some newspaper and litter. We find that rabbits love to stand on a wire floor over the litter box so that they will not dirty themselves.
Rabbits are very curious creatures and will check out on the litter box. When they are on top, help them face you. Praise them. Give them personal time to use the litter box. If they did not explore the litter box by themselves, place them on it and pat them on the head.
If your rabbit do not like to use the litter box for whatever reasons, do not force them. Instead, create a routine for them such as whenever you let them out of the cage, place them on the litter box immediately. If you usually let them out of their cage for considerable time, place them on the litter box again at regular intervals, say every two or three hours.
Gradually you will find that your rabbits will begin using the litter box.
Training Rabbits to do Tricks Using Clicker Training
Many people are not aware of this. Your pet rabbits may be trained to perform tricks just like cats or dogs. In fact, rabbits are fast to learn as they are at the bottom of the food chain and most of the times their survival depends on how fast they learn.
One of the most successful methods used to train rabbits is the clicker training methods. Clicker training has been successfully used to train cats, dogs, horses and now on rabbits. In fact, it was found that clicker training works on every rabbits.
This is how it is done. Whenever your rabbits do something right, you use a metal clicker to produce a click sound, give your rabbit a treat and praise him. Over time, your rabbit will associate the click with treat and they know that in order to make you click, they would have to perform certain tricks.
Why can’t you just say “Good Boy” or “Good Rabbit” instead of using the clicker, you may ask. The explanation is simple. The sound produced by the clicker are very consistent and the rabbits will not get confused or have any mis-association with words used by human.
Why doesn’t food treat alone works with training rabbits? Why should we introduce an additional step in-between the rabbit’s favourable action and the treat? Most of the times, treat do not come immediately after the rabbit’s action. When you use a clicker, you are able to generate click sound almost simultaneously when the rabbits did something right.
For example, if your rabbits have entered into a room and you called his name. When he came out of the room, he has done the right thing. But standing on the other side of the house, you are not able to reward him immediately. When you treat him after some other actions, instead of relating the response to his name being called out to treat, your pet rabbits will relate some other actions to the treats.
When you click immediately when your rabbits response to his name being called, your rabbits associate the sound of the click to the his response to his name. And he knows that the next thing that is forthcoming is his treat.
You can also train your rabbits to do some other tricks such as jumping over a hula hoop or fences using the clicker training. To simply explain the procedure, place the hula hoop in front of the rabbit. Gently push the rear of the rabbit as you say “jump”. As the rabbit jumps through the hula hoop, you click on the metal clicker. Then you provide him with a treat.
Gradually, even without using the clicker, your rabbits will be able to associate the command “jump” and the hula hoop with the action of actually jumping through it. The procedures for other tricks are based on the same principles. For more details, you may want to check Getting Started: Clicking with Your Rabbits.
If you continued to wonder on what tricks your rabbits can be trained to perform, be amazed by the following videos on rabbit training:
To sum up, training rabbits are not necessarily a difficult task. Litter-box training your rabbits or training them to perform tricks are not only makes things easier for you the owners, but also provide plenty of mental stimulus for your pet rabbits. It also helps them to bond with you too.