How to Discipline a Rabbit
Discipline should never be confused with punishment. Rabbits are sensitive animals, and just like all animals, they should be cared for and loved.
For rabbits, discipline means guiding them in the right direction to allow them to stop their unwanted behavior or mischief. It will take a lot of patience, repetition, and perseverance on your end to make your rabbit behave. In the process, your rabbit will also exhibit some normal behaviors.
It can be challenging to discipline rabbits because they are sensitive. When your rabbit sees you angry, they will feel broken and afraid. They will hide and will no longer trust you.
On the other hand, being too lenient with your rabbit will make them carry out their mischief over and over again.
Before starting to train your rabbit, make sure they are comfortable and feels safe with you.
Here are some tips on how to discipline a rabbit.
• Motivate your rabbit
Your rabbit is intelligent and will tend to respond when given incentives positively. Your bunny will not be cooperative if you yell or spank them. Offering food, some simple treats, or toys when they obey you will make your rabbit listen to you.
• Show your Authority
You can teach your rabbit to understand some words, such as responding to his name. You can order your rabbit to stop doing something. Telling him “Stop” or “No,” can be effective when done consistently.
If your rabbit stops doing something because of your strict order, reinforce his positive behavior by offering a treat. If he does not stop when you order him to do so, offer a toy or anything that he can instead focus his attention on.
• Use Vocal Discipline
Unlike dogs, your rabbit will not learn to follow a lot of commands. When you say “no,” he will not understand what you are trying to say, but instead, he will use your pitch and tone as indicators to understand what you are trying to say.
If your rabbit does something like bite you, clap your hand, shrill, or tell them “No”! So that they will stop. Your rabbit may respond by stamping their foot or giving you an angry look, but they stopped what they were doing.
• Push his nose
You can “reprimand” your rabbit by using your index finger to push his nose to the floor while saying, “Daniel, No.” This will make your rabbit realize that you did not like what he did, and you are exercising your authority over him.
• Mist them
Have a spray bottle with water and set on “mist” nearby. When your rabbit continuously does what he should not be doing, use the spray on him. Avoid your rabbit’s ears and eyes when misting. Misting his body with about two sprays will be enough to stop his mischief.
For example, your Bunny, Daniel, continuously leaves droppings in the same area in the kitchen. When you see Daniel go to his favorite spot to leave the droppings, say, “Daniel, NO” while spray one or two mist on him.
When your rabbit bites or nips you to grab your attention, release a high-pitched squeal. This will show your rabbit that you got hurt, and he should not bite or nip you.
If you own a house rabbit, you are aware that it can nibble almost everything inside your home. It can be annoying to find your stuff nibbled to pieces by your dear rabbit.
You can stop your rabbit from the habit of nibbling things. They can be disciplined to stop damaging your belongings. But how to discipline a rabbit without hurting it?
As a new bunny owner, one of the first things you will notice is how naughty bunnies can get. It is common for a rabbit to stick its nose into anything it should not. They also tend to bite things they should not, sometimes including you.
Rabbits have the habit of doing whatever they want to do. Often, they will not listen when called out.
Rabbit-Proof your Home
Prevention is better than cure. This holds true whenever you are dealing with bunnies or any animal for that matter. It is better to be on the offensive than be reactionary.
If you leave your new pair of shoes on a spot where your rabbit can chew on them, you can only blame yourself and not your rabbit.
You can control your rabbit’s behavior by ensuring the areas in your home where he is allowed are free of anything that can trigger his mischief.
When you brought home your rabbit, you are already aware that he is bound to do some naughty things. The best thing to do is develop strategies on how to cope with having a pet rabbit.
Rabbit-proofing your home is one strategy. Learning how to discipline a rabbit is another thing.
Why are Rabbits Naughty?
Rabbits do not intend to be naughty. Things they do that we find a result of their being naughty is to them just a form of entertainment. A rabbit may nibble your shoe not because he is naughty but because nibbling your shoe entertains him.
Sometimes rabbits tend to be naughty because they are bored. Rabbits are social animals and always want to be with a companion. Often the solution to a misbehaving rabbit is to get him a companion or friend.
Never attempt to change a rabbit’s natural behavior. When you brought your rabbit home, you decided to share your home with him.
It is your responsibility to surround him with things that can enrich his life, such as toys, so that he can focus his energies on them.
Always bear in mind that no matter what your rabbit does, it is not right to punish him.
How Naught is Naughty
How can you correlate being naughty to a rabbit?
It would help if you understood that your rabbit has natural behaviors that include digging carpets, chewing furniture, and urinating in the corner. These activities do not mean your rabbit is naughty. He is simply showing his natural behavior.
When you see your rabbit chewing furniture, provide him with something else to chew, such as cardboard boxes, chew toys, etc.)
In short, if you find your rabbit doing something “naughty,” offer an alternative to allow him to bring out his natural behavior without causing any damage to your property.
Having a pet rabbit will help you learn about compromising. Knowing how to compromise will make you more patient and tolerant, allowing you to live a better life.
Why Should You Not Punish Your Rabbit?
A rabbit is a prey animal; thus, it is always on the lookout for any imminent danger or aggression. When you scold a dog, he will most likely tremble.
When you scold a rabbit, he will believe that he is being attacked by a predator and his life in danger.
If you attempt to harm a rabbit, and he is cornered, he will not hide or run away; instead, he will defend himself by kicking or biting you.
You should, therefore, not attempt to hit, shout or punish a rabbit because of any demeanor or mischief.
Physical punishment will make the rabbit attack you to defend himself. It will also ruin any chance of you and the rabbit building a good relationship.
Shouting at a rabbit will also make him angry and destroy beyond repair his trust in you. Shouting at a rabbit will make him a nervous wreck, and he will run away whenever you try to approach him.
There is no use punishing your rabbit for any mischief because it will not work. The best thing to do is to learn how to discipline a rabbit.
Never Use Physical Discipline
Physical discipline means harming or hitting your rabbit to make him understand or obey you. Your rabbit will never correlate you are hitting him with discipline; instead, he will tend to be more aggressive.
Your rabbit will also tend to associate striking with hitting him. So, do not strike him, as well.
When you swat his nose with a newspaper, you will worsen the problem instead of trying to manage his bad habit.
Your rabbit will not hate you for swatting him, but he will be afraid of you. Using fear to control an animal is never the right way to handle it.
It can be challenging to establish a good rapport and relationship with your rabbit even if you treat him with care, let alone if you hit or harm him.
Your rabbit should correlate your hands with affection and not pain. When you hit him as a consequence of bad behavior, he will never forget that you hurt him.
Let your rabbit know that he is in a safe environment, and you will aid, help, and care for him. Use vocal discipline when doing something he should not be doing.
Being cute and adorable is not a free pass for rabbits to be naughty creatures. It is your responsibility to discipline them each time they do something wrong.
Your rabbit is a fragile animal and will easily be afraid and frightened. Learning how to discipline a habit entails accepting the fact that patience will play a huge role. You should be at your calmest self when disciplining your bunny.