How Can You Train a Rabbit to Come When Called?
You can train your rabbit to come when called through a mixture of bonding, positive reinforcement, and voice control. Since rabbits are fearful by instinct, they need to build trust through multiple steps. Although they are fearful, they are also very smart and can be taught with patience and knowledge.
What Are the Steps to Training a Rabbit to Come When Called?
While rabbits can be timid by nature, they can also be very social animals if they feel bonded to another creature. If you have gained the trust of your rabbit, they will be more likely to do as you want, which is the first step. You must also use positive reinforcement when trying to teach the desired behavior, which can be done by giving treats. How you use your voice, and what you say with it is imperative, as communication is a large part of this process. Understanding how each of these factors affects this interaction in-depth is significant to teaching your rabbit to come when called.
What Is the Action?
What Should You Do?
What Should You Not Do?
|Bonding||It is crucial to bond with your rabbit before making any demands from them, so they feel confident around you. If your rabbit is new to you, they may be timid or afraid at first. This just means you need to be extra patient. Be near the rabbit so it can become accustomed to your presence. Let them walk around by you, observe you, and just feel you out before trying to touch them. If they pop their head out, or hop toward you, offer them a little snack so they know your intentions and can build trust.||Do not try to force a bond right away. Give your rabbit some time to warm up to you. If they hide or run away, do not try to chase after them or grab at them. Give them some time and let them settle down. Being too aggressive will teach them to fear you, which is exactly the opposite of what you are trying to do.|
|Providing treats||Once you have established a bond, it is now time to incorporate positive reinforcement into the training process. When your bunny begins to sit near you, begin dropping treats closer and closer to yourself so they will have to move towards you to get them. Once they begin hopping over, call their name. Move farther and farther away as they become more comfortable with this action, until you have reached the maximum distance. Repeat this process at least twice per day for three weeks. Get down to their level as well so you seem less threatening and more trustworthy. To reinforce this action, begin calling your pet’s name each time you refill their food supply. The more you do this, you will notice them appear, even if there are no treats involved.||Do not make these sessions too long. 3-4 minutes is plenty of time to train with your rabbits per session. If you start to make them much longer than that your rabbit may lose interest. If your rabbit shows any signs of distress do not keep the session going. Stop right where you are and continue another time. Signs to look out for include moving away and freezing up. At these signs, move away and give the rabbit their space.|
|Voice control||Talk to your pet in a calm, consistent voice. If you are going to say their name, make sure they are paying attention and alert. Since they are easy to frighten, they respond the best to this level of volume and method.||Do not use loud or sudden noises when training your pet rabbit. These animals have very acute hearing and will get very scared if you do this. When training them, you do not want them to be frightened, otherwise they may freeze up and be ready to be done.|
What Else Should You Know About the Steps to Training a Rabbit to Come When Called?
- It’s best to avoid commercially sold rabbit treats because some can lead to weight gain as well as damage to the rabbit’s teeth. Instead use treats from nature like dandelion leaves, parsley, or basil.
- Rabbits are very intelligent animals and learn very quickly, however they need to feel comfortable in an environment before they will catch on.
- Although rabbits are best kept in pairs, training is most effective when it is done one-on-one.
- Since rabbits have good hearing, they quickly become attuned to what noises around the house mean. For example, if they hear the bag rustle, they will know it is time to eat. This makes training easier.
- It is recommended to not use nicknames so a rabbit will not get confused when being called by their name.
How Can You Train Your Rabbit with Voice Commands?
Being able to call your rabbit by name is a useful skill to teach. Rabbits are so intuitive that you can take this a step further. You can teach them to follow other word commands as well. Simply state the command and follow with the rabbit’s name and they should be able to catch on fairly quickly.
- “Come”: Use this to call your rabbit to you. You should use a high, encouraging tone of voice.
- “No”: Use this when you want your rabbit to stop doing something, such as chewing on something it shouldn’t. Use a low, stern tone of voice. If the rabbit doesn’t respond, try picking it up and holding it for a minute, then put it back down again. It if keeps doing the same action, place the rabbit in a different area and try giving it something else to play with.
- “Up”: This can be used to get your rabbit to jump onto the couch for attention. The same way you did with, “come,” use a high, encouraging voice.
- “Down”: Use this to train your rabbit to jump down from space. Use an encouraging voice, but with a tone of voice that is still lower. Click your fingers at the level of the floor to reinforce the command.
- “It’s Okay”: When a rabbit gets scared by a loud noise, it will freeze with its ears straight up. Saying “it’s okay” in a relaxing voice will soothe the rabbit until it is able to calm down.
- Note: Do not react with anger towards your rabbit otherwise they will fear you and trying to teach them commands will likely not happen. Regaining trust that was lost is more difficult than earning it in the first place.
What Are Some Other Factors to Consider When Training Your Rabbit?
Right under the umbrella of making sure your rabbit feels safe, it is important your rabbit has an adequate environment when they are training. Although domestic rabbits are not accustomed to having entire fields and meadows to roam around in like wild rabbits, they still need space. Being cooped up in a tiny little cage with none of the materials from their natural habitat will not make for a happy pet. When you are training your rabbit, you will want to train them in the space they feel most comfortable in.
Similar to making sure your rabbit has a large enough space with sufficient materials, a rabbit needs to be fed a diet that is right for them. A good supply of hay is vital for the digestive, dental, and muscular health of a rabbit. Fresh greens should be given along with plenty of hay, with the occasional treat. With the right diet and environment, your rabbit will be more willing to listen to you.
While rabbits are intelligent animals who can catch on quickly, they must feel comfortable in their environment before they are willing to do so. They are timid by nature so they need to bond with their owner before they will follow commands or trust them. The correct environment and living conditions need to be present as well in order for the rabbit to be comfortable learning commands.
Training a rabbit to come when called requires multiple steps and may be a lengthy process at first, however, it becomes simple once these steps are learned. After you have gained the trust of your rabbit, the rest is mostly about habit and technique. You must establish a habit of practicing with the rabbit each day, as well as a technique with your voice and volume which the rabbit wants to respond to. Your pet will learn fairly quickly once this routine has been established.
Having patience, knowledge, and compassion for your pet is essential through this process. Understanding the needs of your rabbit and meeting those before you expect them to meet any of yours is a vital part as well. A mutual respect between owner and pet is what makes this practice work the best. Be patient, and you will be successful.