Is It Ever Okay to Discipline a Rabbit?

Most rabbits will get into hassle in some unspecified time in the future of their lives. It’s pure to need to discover methods to cease the troublemaking habits, however it may be difficult with bunnies. Rabbits are very cussed once they’ve determined to do one thing, and it’ll seem to be nothing you do can cease them.

It’s by no means okay to hit, push, or in any other case damage a rabbit if they’re doing one thing you imagine is unhealthy habits. One of these punishment doesn’t work and is extra more likely to lead to your rabbit not trusting you, and even making an attempt to assault you.

Nevertheless, self-discipline doesn’t essentially imply the identical factor as punishment. Easy acts like clapping your palms or putting your rabbit in a short lived time-out are acceptable relying on the circumstances. 

That being stated, the easiest way to cease a rabbit from troublemaking habits is all the time to attempt to tackle the underlying purpose for the habits. Discovering the trigger and redirecting your rabbit’s consideration or utilizing optimistic reinforcement is extra more likely to change your rabbit’s habits than any sort of self-discipline.

Is it okay to self-discipline a rabbit?

Bodily punishment ought to by no means be used with rabbits. Not solely is it merciless, however the rabbit is unlikely to grasp why they’re being punished. As an alternative, it would solely result in your rabbit having a unfavorable affiliation with you and different people. The one factor you might be educating your rabbit is cease trusting you.

Alternatively, in case you are speaking about self-discipline as a approach to inform your rabbit to cease what they’re doing (with out hurting them), then there could also be some restricted events when it’s acceptable. Nevertheless, it ought to by no means be the predominant approach that you just strategy a rabbit’s undesirable habits. As an alternative, it’s solely a short-term resolution when you be taught to handle the basis of the issue.

For my part, types of ‘self-discipline’ that depend on distraction or assist an agitated rabbit settle down can be utilized to assist in holding rabbits out of hassle and stopping some undesirable habits (scroll to the following part for what I imply particularly). Most of what I’ll be speaking about on this article is just not what individuals historically consider as self-discipline, so I exploit quotations across the time period. Nevertheless, that is as shut as I might get to truly ‘disciplining’ a rabbit.

A word about ‘unhealthy’ behaviors

It’s additionally essential to have a look at whether or not your rabbit’s ‘unhealthy’ habits is de facto your rabbit being unhealthy, or if it’s one thing you don’t need them to do. I’ll get extra into this additional down after I discuss alternate options to self-discipline, however while you get a bunny you should perceive that they are going to behave like a rabbit. 

Rabbits dig, rabbits chew, rabbits are curious and wish to discover, and, sure, rabbits will even pee to mark their territory. Rabbits are additionally timid and territorial by nature. They may chew in the event that they’re scared or assault in the event that they imagine you’re invading their territory. If a rabbit is performing aggressively or being slightly troublemaker, there’s a purpose for his or her habits.

As an alternative of disciplining a rabbit for performing like a rabbit, it’s higher to attempt to perceive what their wants are and redirect their pure habits to one thing much less damaging. You can even use optimistic reinforcement, as an alternative of punishment, for a way more efficient approach to educate your rabbit behave.

rabbit hears a loud sound
Loud or unfamiliar sounds can startle a rabbit. It’s not one thing you need to do on a regular basis, however sometimes it get a rabbit out of hassle

Sorts of ‘self-discipline’ which can be (generally) acceptable

The kind of ‘self-discipline’ that’s acceptable will fulfill one in all two functions:

  1. It retains your rabbit protected. For instance, a loud sound to startle your rabbit and stop them from chewing on one thing harmful.
  2. It helps your rabbit settle down. For instance, brief time-outs can assist an agitated rabbit chill out.

It’s additionally necessary to do not forget that it’s solely value utilizing any of those ‘self-discipline’ methods in case your rabbit is presently doing the unhealthy or harmful habits. For those who wait till after they’ve completed it, it received’t imply something (for instance, should you come dwelling to search out your rabbit has already chewed via the carpet). In these instances, you’ll need to transfer on to the following part the place I discuss constructive methods to assist change your rabbit’s habits.

  • Loud noise (clapping, snapping, or shaking a capsule bottle). This can instantly startle your rabbit, in order that they cease what they’re doing. It’s finest reserved for eventualities which can be actively unsafe in your rabbit. For instance, they go right into a blocked-off space with a bunch of wires, and also you need to cease them quick.
  • Squirt bottle (I solely use a squirt bottle when bonding rabbits, as a result of there’s a larger likelihood of damage if an aggressive habits is just not stopped instantly)
  • Inserting your hand over your rabbit’s head (this can assist your rabbit settle down if they’re exhibiting aggressive behaviors)
  • Choosing your rabbit as much as take away them from an unsafe spot (since most rabbits hate being picked up, I rely this as a sort of self-discipline)
  • Quick time-outs are generally acceptable (however keep in mind, rabbits are social creatures, so that you shouldn’t withhold affection for lengthy)
Don't pick up your rabbit
Most rabbits don’t wish to be held, so that you shouldn’t choose them up on a regular basis.

I additionally need to word that it’s essential to observe up any sort of self-discipline that scares or startles your rabbit with love. For those who startle your rabbit by clapping, be sure to go and pet them or give them a deal with after they’ve stopped their unhealthy habits. This fashion, your rabbit will know you continue to love them.

What to do as an alternative of disciplining a rabbit

In my expertise, it’s way more efficient to attempt to perceive why your rabbit is misbehaving as an alternative of making an attempt to blindly inform them no and self-discipline them. In lots of instances, a rabbit who bites so much is definitely an anxious rabbit. A rabbit who digs out the litter field is usually only a bored rabbit. 

As soon as you’re taking the time to research the habits and look past it, you possibly can tackle the issue extra constructively. Generally it is possible for you to to actively prepare your rabbit to not do sure issues. However generally you additionally want to simply accept that it’s a pure rabbit habits and the one factor you are able to do is attempt to redirect the habits and make the setting extra rabbit-friendly.

As an alternative of punishing a rabbit, strive a number of the following ideas to assist encourage higher habits.

1. Work out why your rabbit did one thing unhealthy

Rabbits are often not naturally aggressive animals. In the event that they lash out and attempt to chew you, there may be often a purpose for it. Perhaps they’re extraordinarily scared, or perhaps it’s hormonal territorial habits. 

The identical goes for different troublemaking behaviors. Generally your rabbit is bored and pissed off, and that’s why they’re performing out. For those who first work out why your rabbit is behaving badly, you possibly can take steps to both repair the habits or change the setting so it’s not as damaging.

Some questions you possibly can ask to attempt to discover the basis of the issue embrace:

  1. Is your rabbit hormonal? As rabbits attain maturity, they are going to generally begin getting extra aggressive and damaging. Getting your rabbit fastened is step one to fixing this type of habits downside.
  2. Are they bored? Rabbits are curious creatures who want a lot of house to discover and psychological stimulation. With out sufficient of both of those, a rabbit is more likely to get pissed off and act out.
  3. Are they scared? Timid rabbits might attempt to chew or assault individuals in the event that they really feel scared. That is typically the basis reason behind many aggressive rabbit behaviors.
  4. Are they simply doing regular bunny behaviors? You may’t cease a rabbit from digging or chewing, as an alternative, you must work round these behaviors and discover methods in your rabbit to do them in much less damaging methods.
rabbit in a small cage
Rabbits can get bored and grumpy in the event that they’re left in a small cage all day with nothing to do.

2. Does your rabbit have protected locations the place they’ll use their pure behaviors

Rabbits are diggers and chewers. These are regular behaviors that your rabbit goes to proceed doing regardless of what number of instances you attempt to inform them to not. Nevertheless, you can provide your rabbit higher methods of utilizing their pure instincts that aren’t harmful to your rabbit or damaging to your property.

  • In case your rabbit’s unhealthy habits contains biting baseboards and furnishings legs, take into consideration what sort of toys they’ve obtainable. Cardboard containers, apple sticks, and willow balls might be nice for rabbits who wish to chew.
  • In case your rabbit is digging on the carpet or digging out their litter field, have they got something that it’s okay for them to dig and destroy? Once more, cardboard containers are wonderful for this, you can even get low cost space rugs or create a DIY digging field in your rabbit (tutorial right here).
  • In case your rabbit is loud and rattling the bars of their enclosure, have they got sufficient house? Most cages which can be marketed and offered for rabbits are too small, main them to be pissed off and bored as a result of they’ll’t be as energetic as a bunny must be. Rising the quantity of house a rabbit has can remedy a stunning variety of habits points. (see why I like to recommend an train pen as an alternative of a cage)
  • How a lot consideration are you giving your rabbit? Bunnies have social wants, and they’re extra more likely to act as much as attempt to get your consideration if these wants are usually not being met.
reverse fetch with a rabbit
place a ball or toy in entrance of your rabbit to attempt to distract them.

3. Are you able to redirect the habits?

Some rabbits shall be little troublemakers no matter what number of toys they’ve and the way a lot consideration they get. Really, scratch that, all rabbits shall be little troublemakers generally, regardless of how good you might be at offering for the little bunny’s wants.

In case your rabbit is moving into one thing they shouldn’t, the very best factor to do is attempt to distract them with a extra constructive approach to make use of their habits. Some methods you possibly can distract your rabbit embrace:

  • Inserting a cardboard field, toy, or one thing like that proper in entrance of your rabbit
  • Begin a coaching session along with your rabbit (be taught extra about coaching rabbits)
  • Get in your palms and knees and begin performing bizarre so your rabbit comes to take a look at what you’re doing
  • Pet your rabbit
  • Attempt to hug your rabbit (they’ll often hop away from you)

You do need to keep away from giving them treats to distract them as a result of that may seem to be a reward to them. Your rabbit will suppose they’re getting rewarded for his or her habits and so they’ll be extra more likely to do it once more, not much less.

command hooks
Use command hooks and fencing to maintain wires away from the floor and fasten fencing to furnishings to stop rabbits from accessing the areas beneath.

4. What exterior modifications are you able to make to dam your rabbit’s undesired habits?

After you’ve distracted your rabbit or gotten them to settle down, you possibly can transfer to make modifications to their setting and habitat that stop them from being as damaging. That is a part of bunny-proofing, and it’s one thing you’ll have to frequently enhance as your rabbit finds new issues to get into, make a large number, and destroy.

That is the place you must perceive that bunnies shall be bunnies. They don’t seem to be going to cease digging, so what are you able to do to cut back the mess and make the habits much less damaging? These are some widespread issues and attainable options:

  • Your rabbit is digging within the litter field and making a large number
    • See in case your rabbit will use a coated litter field (some rabbits don’t like these)
    • Use a high-sided litter field
    • Put the litter field within a much bigger field to catch the mess
    • Use much less litter and extra hay within the field 
  • Your rabbit is chewing on the baseboards
    • Block the partitions with fencing or flattened cardboard containers
    • Spray with a bitter apple spray (often solely works quickly)
  • Your rabbit is digging into the carpet
    • Cowl the carpet with an inexpensive space rug
    • Use plastic desk mats within the corners of rooms
    • Strategically place cardboard containers in locations your rabbit likes to dig
    • Use fences to dam areas which can be notably problematic
  • Your rabbit is loud at night time
    • Give your rabbit extra space
    • Change your rabbit’s toys for quieter toys (cardboard might be pretty loud)
    • Clip a blanket over the aspect of the pen
    • Put on headphones while you sleep

5. What sorts of optimistic reinforcement can you employ as an alternative?

Some sorts of undesirable habits are higher addressed with optimistic reinforcement coaching. That is going to be the very best resolution for rabbits who chew. Since such a habits is often motivated by worry, you need to strategy it by educating your rabbit to not be afraid anymore.

The thought is to show your rabbit that while you strategy, you might be bringing treats or petting. You received’t damage them or attempt to make them do something they don’t need to do. Relying on how fearful your rabbit is, the method might be gradual going, however you need to be as form and affected person as you possibly can along with your rabbit. Any kind of punishment or self-discipline is more likely to set the entire course of again.

spoon feeding a rabbit
In case your rabbit is overly smitten by treats and tends you chew your finger, use a spoon to assist them enhance their purpose.

6. Let your rabbit know in the event that they damage you

Generally, rabbits who nip or chew don’t need to damage you. That is often the case for rabbits who chew your hand when they need a deal with as a result of they’ve unhealthy purpose. It’s additionally widespread for rabbits who nip you to let you know to maneuver out of the way in which, or by accident chew you when they’re doing one thing else and never paying consideration.

For instance, I like to put on the ground close to my bunnies and skim with a comfortable blanket. My rabbit, Teddy Bear, likes to play beneath the blanket, chewing and digging on it, which is completely okay with me. Nevertheless, he’ll sometimes nip my leg whereas he’s enjoying to attempt to get me to maneuver.

In these instances, you need to let your rabbit know that they damage you in order that they know to not do it once more. Usually, the way in which that I deal with that is to instantly yell “OW!” and sit up away from the rabbit. Then I’ll flip my again to him so he is aware of I’m upset (that is one thing rabbits do when they’re mad or holding a grudge). 

As soon as my rabbit comes as much as me as if to apologize, or calms down and lays down close to me, I’ll relent and go give him some head scratches to let him know I really like him. 

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