From the moment you first saw them, you knew you loved your rabbit. It was all in their cute face, their fluffy fur, and that little puffy tail. When you go to handle them or give them a play session, you can’t help but wonder, does your rabbit love you, too? Do bunnies have any attachment to their owners?
Rabbits can develop an attachment to their owners much the same way many pets do. The sociability and loving tendencies of most rabbits make them great companion animals.
How can you tell if your bunny loves you? Can they learn to recognize your face and voice? In this article, we’ll answer those questions and more, so you don’t want to miss it.
How Loving Are Rabbits?
If you have a common household pet like a cat or dog (especially a dog), you know these animals are going to be quite affectionate towards you. In fact, what holds some people back from getting a rabbit is a concern over how loving a bunny can be.
This is unnecessary, as rabbits are incredibly affectionate and loving, at least as a general rule. As you know, all rabbits are different. Some have a naturally sweet personality while others may be more reserved.
Like some shy people, it’s possible for your rabbit to come out of its shell, so to speak, through sociability. The more time your rabbit spends with you and others, the more they can grow to like human interaction. While we’ll delve into this later, you can also train your rabbit to be more sociable. That in turn may make them more loving.
Can Rabbits Recognize Their Owner’s Face?
Few feelings are better than coming home at the end of the day to a big greeting from your pet. It’s because they know your face and voice and they’re so happy your home.
Can rabbits recognize faces? They can indeed. If you recall reading it on this blog, rabbits are more intelligent than we sometimes give them credit for. For instance, they can discern one face from another. This is due to their impressive vision. Although their eyes are pretty far from one another, that eye positioning allows rabbits to enjoy an amazing 360 degrees of visual range. When you combine this with the panoramic vision they also possess, rabbits can also see what’s over top them, behind them, and to the side of them just from looking ahead.
Admittedly, a rabbit’s ability to recognize you does depend on how close you are with your pet. If you often spend a lot of facetime with them, picking them up, snuggling, and playing, then your rabbit will recognize you a lot faster. If you’re the type who drops food in the enclosure and maybe pets your rabbit on the head, don’t be surprised if they can’t really tell you apart from anyone else.
If your rabbit doesn’t recognize you, that means you should spend some more one-on-one time with them. It’ll happen eventually.
What about Their Voice?
We already talked about how your rabbit can recognize you visually. What about audibly? The answer is another resounding yes!
Not only can rabbits detect your voice, but they can pick up on your unique smell, too. With these two senses working hard, your bunny should always be able to tell when you’re approaching, even if they can’t see you yet.
If your rabbit doesn’t seem to react to the sound of your voice, that again means you two need more quality time together. Try getting down on your rabbit’s level and speaking softly to them for a while. Add in some fur stroking and maybe a few treats while you talk, as that’ll make the experience pleasant and memorable for the rabbit.
Do this enough and you’ll soon find your rabbit will recognize the sound of your voice and probably respond to it favorably.
Does Your Rabbit Know Its Own Name?
When you named your bunny, you likely put a lot of time and thought into it. Is your fuzzy friend even aware of their name?
Not only do rabbits know their own name, but they can respond to it if you call them. This will take time and training, of course, but the results are worth it.
To start the training, you’ll want to take your rabbit out of their enclosure. Sit down on the floor with them so you’re as close to ground level as you can be. Keep some distance between you and the rabbit; not much, but the goal is to try to get them to come closer to you.
Now begin calling out heir name. You should be holding a treat to incentivize the rabbit to hop or walk over. If they do as you asked, reward your rabbit with a treat. Don’t be discouraged if your rabbit doesn’t listen the first time you call their name. This is a skill that requires time and dedication to learn. If you’re willing to put the time in, your rabbit can amaze you.
Do Rabbits Enjoy Being Cuddled?
We may sound like a broken record here, but whether a rabbit enjoys being cuddled depends on the animal. If your bunny is more skittish by nature, then no, they probably won’t like being handled much at first. Other rabbits might not mind from the get-go.
Like many other things, you can train your rabbit to be more receptive to your cuddling attempts. You might want to begin by cuddling them from within their own enclosure. This puts less pressure on the rabbit since you’re not taking them away from their home by picking them up.
Start slowly and be gentle. Talk softly to your bunny and then, taking your time, reach your hand out to pet your rabbit. If they rear themselves back, run, or try to bite or scratch, leave it be and try another day. Small nips are okay and may be used as a means of telling you to keep it up with the petting.
If you want to pick up your rabbit, again, you’ll have to start slow. As we’ve written about before, start by getting down on their level. Once more, talk to them and pet them a bit. Then, with one hand under their chest and another around their hindquarters, scoop the rabbit up. One hand should brace their back while the other should stay near the rear. Keep the rabbit close to your body so they can’t kick wildly. Some rabbits will feel more secure if their eyes are covered while being carried.
If you want to sit down with your bunny in your lap, then you should firmly but gently carry them to a couch or a chair. Take your time as you sit down so you don’t startle the rabbit. Then, switch from cradling them to sitting them in your lap. Some rabbits will immediately freak out and try to run. If so, get a firm grasp on them and put them back in their cage. If the bunny likes sitting out, enjoy the moment, but not for too long. Gradually increase the longevity of this quality time until it gets to a point you’re both comfortable with.
How to Teach a Shy Rabbit to be More Affectionate
As we promised earlier in the article, we thought we’d end with some tips on making a shy rabbit more affectionate. Here are our top pointers:
- Although it’s weird to think you’re training your rabbit to be more affectionate, that’s essentially what you’re doing. Like with any training, it’s going to take time, repetition, and a bit of work.
- The more time you spend with your rabbit, the faster they’ll warm up to you. Every day if you can, schedule a nice one-on-one sesh with your bunny. You’ll both benefit from it.
- You could be making progress and suddenly your rabbit doesn’t want to snuggle or be close. Don’t take this personally. Sometimes your rabbit is tired, hungry, or cranky and wants to be left alone.
- Always reward a well-behaved rabbit, especially one that’s working to become more sociable. This teaches them that when they do something good, they’ll get a treat out of it. That reinforces the good behavior and makes them want to do it more.
- Try to work around your bunny’s schedule. As you might have read on this blog, rabbits are crepuscular. That means the best times to approach them are early in the morning and at dusk. In the middle of the afternoon and sometimes even during the evening, your bunny could be conked out and sleeping. They won’t want to be handled or snuggled then.
Rabbits are very loving animals, and as such, they can develop an attachment to their owners. With their refined senses, rabbits can recognize an owner’s face, voice, and scent.
Not all rabbits will be as affectionate as others. To get your rabbit more used to handling and snuggling, we recommend spending time with them consistently. Reward them with treats when they behave well. Then, just keep at it. With time, even a shy rabbit can become more loving.