Can You Train a Rabbit?

The answer to this question is yes, because rabbits are very sociable and intelligent animals . With these premises, we only need time, patience and a good method for the small mammal to eat from our hand … and more. We tell you the keys in this post. Courage, in a few clicks, the challenge is possible!

Idiosyncrasy of rabbits

Before starting any method of training a rabbit, it is convenient to reflect on the way of being of these charming little animals.

With the following brush strokes, you will learn more about their qualities, behavior and motivations:

  • The common rabbit –Oryctolagus cuniculus– is a species of lagomorphic mammal of the Leporidae family. It is the only representative of the genus Oryctolagus.
  • Being a prey animal , it will try to escape from any situation that causes fear.
  • To be polite, you need a conducive climate that gives you confidence . Therefore, before touching it, we must approach it so that it smells us.
  • Its great intelligence enables it to respond actively to positive incentives proposed by humans.
  • On the contrary, he will withdraw in the face of yelling and punishment .
  • Positive reinforcement will always pay off.
  • The help of motivators , such as snacks , toys and even caresses, are great allies in the training of the little furry.
  • Your vision is better from far and to the side rather than from near and to the front. This is due to the unique separation of their eyes. Take this into account when offering a treat. You should place it under his nose and mouth, since these senses are more effective than sight.
  • Do not forget that they are delicate and sensitive animals . Treat them with all the gentleness and affection they deserve.
  • Your caresses on the head will be well received by the rabbit, not so on the rest of the body. Try to avoid them so as not to intimidate him.

“During training, don’t scold your rabbit, don’t punish him, don’t yell at him. In this way you will only create anxiety and delay training ”.

Train a rabbit: the click method

Training a rabbit has infinite advantages, because in addition to facilitating coexistence with it, it keeps it active and strengthens the bond of friendship between animal and human.

Does the training system based on the click method sound familiar to you?
We will explain it to you step by step below.

The clicker

  • You will need a clicker , a work tool that is used to secondarily reinforce the training of animals.
  • With the help of the clicker and the rewards , the rabbit can be made to obey a series of commands aimed at learning or modifying various behaviors.

“The functioning of the clicker is based on classical conditioning (from the Russian physiologist Iván Pavlov), as a learning method and consisting of the association between two stimuli”

Choose the right moment

Your little animal will be more motivated if you start training before feeding it.

  • You can offer him a few treats or bits of his favorite vegetables .
  • When you are chewing the candy or the carrot slice, for example, click the clicker once.
  • At the end of the first bite, give it another and click again.
  • Repeat the action until you finish with the handful of sweets or vegetables that you had prepared.
  • With this routine, the rabbit will associate the sound with the food treat.

Four challenges in short sessions

A rabbit gets bored if the training stages are long, slow, and tedious. Therefore, we will try to plan everything very well so that they become pleasant experiences for him.
Prepare in advance everything you will need for the training, such as the clicker, treats, food, toys, objects, etc.

Give the treat quickly , take no more than five seconds after the clicker sound.
Start with simple challenges, like the ones we propose below, so that you get used to a discipline, and gradually increase the difficulty of them.

  1. Reaching for a sound object
    The animal has to touch a sound element, such as a bell or rattle .
  • Bring the treat closer to his nose so that he can sniff it and hold it until he reaches the goal, which will be at a safe distance.
  • When the rabbit manages to touch the bell, press the clicker and give him his reward.
  • Repeat this step several times and when you see that the animal gets tired, stop.
  • As you overcome the challenge, you can move the target a little further away.
  1. Order to sit
  • Command the rabbit to sit down, saying “sit down.” As soon as he obeys, click and give him his prize.
  • As your rabbit becomes familiar with the command, you can gradually delay giving the treat.
  • In this way, you will get the animal to sit without the need for sound stimuli or rewards.
  • If you want him to get up, repeat the exercise, but with the command “get up” or “up.”
  • The prizes do not necessarily have to be material, it can be their favorite food, but also pampering or anything else that your animal likes to do especially.
  1. Teach him to come to you when you call him
  • Make sure he sniffs you and follows your movements.
  • When he comes to you, give him the treat.
  • Be firm during training, only then will you get the animal to understand why you reward it.

“You can complete the training orders with praise, such as“ sit down, great ”or“ come in here, great ”

  1. Putting on a harness
  • For this task you will need a great deal of patience and do it in several phases.
  • The first step is to reward him for simply approaching the harness, smelling it, and touching it.
  • Give him another treat when he lets himself put the armor on his back.
  • Reward him for letting you pick up a paw for him and for being calm as you put it on. Reward each move in which he is calm.
  • Finally, when you have managed to put the harness on, leave it on for a few minutes, without adjusting, so that it gets used to it. Then take it off so it doesn’t get overwhelmed.
  • At another time, you can put the harness on him.
  • Then teach him to familiarize himself with the leash and to drag it before attaching it to the harness.

If you want to know how to train him to relieve himself in the right place, you are interested in visiting our posts:

“Teaching our rabbit to use the corner”
“How to train your rabbit to urinate and defecate”

There are other fun and useful challenges. For example, training your rabbit in situations that cause fear or distrust (such as preparing it for a trip or visit to the vet), cutting its nails or getting it used to entering its cage at nightfall.

Gradual withdrawal of awards

The end goal is for the rabbit to get things done without having to receive a treat in return. You will achieve this by following these steps:

  • When the furry responds successfully to a certain command, it is time to reduce the frequency of the treats.
  • You can alternate: once you give the prize and the next time you don’t.
  • Another option is to offer the treat from time to time.
  • Gradually substitute caresses for treats and leave food to reinforce their behavior at specific times.

Remember that one of the keys to successful rabbit training is planning. Once you have the plan, organize each step and put it into practice with patience.