Are you struggling to bond with your rabbit? Do you want to strengthen the bond between you and your bunny, but don’t know how?
When you properly bond with your rabbit, you’ll have a friend for life. So, you want to take your time and do it right. After all, rabbits scare easily, and you don’t want to become a source of fear.
In this article, I’m sharing my bonding tips and experiences from having rabbits for over 16 years. In other words, you’ll get my advice for creating strong and loving bonds with your rabbit. Let’s get started.
Do Rabbits Bond With Humans?
Rabbits are social creatures that need more attention than most people think. In fact, their need for social stimulation is why it’s better to have a pair of rabbits than one alone.
They form close bonds with their owners and other rabbits in the house. Even further, rabbits are more likely to develop a close bond with one person. Yep, even rabbits have favorites.
And, if rabbits don’t get the attention and social stimulation that bonding can give, then they are prone to destructive behaviors like chewing, spraying, etc.
How Long Does It Take to Bond With Your Rabbit?
Depending on factors like age, past experiences, and general personality, it can take up to a few months to bond with your bunny. That doesn’t mean that they don’t like you. Some rabbits just take longer to adjust.
I’m lucky because I work from home and spend most of the day with my rabbit, so we’re pretty tight, but that’s not a reality for everyone. But, it doesn’t have to be all day. An hour or two of one-on-one bonding time can make a best friend out of your bunny.
Do Rabbits Love Their Owners?
Yes, most rabbits do love their owners. They aren’t affectionate, but they form strong bonds with their owners, which stem from love and trust.
Rabbits have their own way of showing love that’s unlike other pets like cats and dogs. Instead, they show their love through trust. When a rabbit feels comfortable around you, it will show it by being relaxed.
They also show their love through play. They may run around your ankles, which may seem like a pain, but it’s a way to say, “I love you.”
Do Rabbits Recognize Their Owners?
Yes, rabbits do recognize their owners. Studies show that they recognize their owners in more than appearance but also smell and the sound of their voice. Rabbits also recognize their name.
Your rabbit may even greet you at the door or come when you call it, after time. I speak from experience when I say there’s nothing sweeter than a bunny coming to greet you at the door when you’ve had a long day.
How to Bond With Your Rabbit
Without a bond, you can’t expect any kind of affection or successful training. So, take these steps to bond with your rabbit.
1. Learn How to Read Your Rabbit’s Body Language
Start by learning the difference between a happy rabbit and a scared rabbit. Happy rabbits that feel safe will hop around, explore, and play. If your rabbit is bonding with you, it will be affectionate (if it wants to). That’s easy to tell, and it’s the perfect opportunity for bonding time.
Fearful rabbits will run away or try to if there is no room to run. Some may even get aggressive. Take these as signs that your rabbit wants to be left alone. And, as I said before, just leave it until later. You don’t want to force bonding on your rabbit because that will only push them away.
2. Spend Time With Your Rabbit
Quality time is the easiest way to form a bond with your rabbit. All you have to do is literally be around them. It’s so simple, yet it’s so important because every minute you spend with your rabbit counts toward creating a strong and loving bond.
When spending time with your rabbit, remember to stay calm and quiet. Rabbits don’t like rambunctious and loud. You need to make yourself a safe place for your rabbit first before you even start to establish a bond.
What Do Rabbits Like to Do With Humans?
Rabbits like to play with toys, so the best way to spend time with your rabbit for bonding is to play with them. Introduce new toys slowly and test your rabbit’s reaction.
For new rabbits, it’s best to start by letting them do their own thing while you’re around. Let them run around while you sit in their enclosure, or let them roam around the room you’re in (as long as it’s bunny-proofed).
3. Let Your Rabbit Make the First Move
You can’t bond with your rabbit if it’s scared of you, so don’t overwhelm him by forcing the subject. Don’t chase, corner, and pick up your rabbit when it’s time to cuddle. Sit down, and let your rabbit come to you.
Respect your rabbit’s boundaries. Sometimes rabbits don’t want to be petted, and they will let you know when that’s the case. If that’s the case, try again in a while. Once your rabbit becomes comfortable with you, it will approach you without being prompted or tempted.
4. Entice Your Rabbit With Treats
If your rabbit is reluctant to bond with you, try enticing him with healthy treats. When he lets you pet him, offer a treat to create a positive association. When your rabbit becomes more comfortable interacting with you, you can feed it less.
You don’t want to give your rabbit commercial treats found in pet shops, as they’re not a healthy option. Try pieces of veggies or fruits for a healthier option.
5. Make Physical Contact With Your Rabbit
Making contact with hand-raised rabbits and young rabbits is much easier than with older rabbits who haven’t had much contact before. So, remember to take in mind your rabbit’s age and history if you know it. If you don’t, assume they haven’t had much handling.
When your rabbit shows signs of comfort around you, try for physical contact. Slowly reach out and lightly pet your rabbit on the head or back. As your rabbit comes closer, continue petting him and offer some treats to encourage a positive association.
Do Rabbits Like to Be Cuddled?
Most rabbits enjoy a good cuddle, but not in the same way as other pets. Rabbits often don’t like to be picked up and smothered with love like dogs do, and even some cats. They snuggle up to you on the couch or the ground.
6. Groom Your Rabbit
Yes, you can even bond with your rabbit by grooming them. And, it would actually do you and your rabbit a lot of good. It helps your rabbit’s coat stay soft, shiny, and healthy and keeps the dander level at an all-time low.
Now, I wouldn’t start the bond-strengthening process out with nail-clipping. But, you can definitely work up to that level of trust by brushing your rabbit daily. Grooming was a big part of the bonding process between me and my newest rabbit Chile, a Lionhead Rabbit who needs a lot of brushing to stay as cute as he is.
Closing Thoughts on Bonding With Your Rabbit
Remember to be patient with the bonding process, like anything you do with your rabbit. Not every rabbit is the same. Some are outgoing and easy to bond with owners, while others will be more reluctant and want to do their own thing.
Also, note that your rabbit’s history is vital to its association with humans. My rabbits, Bubba and Chile, were both rehomed rabbits who hadn’t had all that much attention in their lives. So, as a result, they took a lot longer to bond with than the other rabbits I had before, who were only weeks old when I got them.
My last piece of advice is to be consistent. Make bonding time a part of your rabbit’s daily routine. You can’t create a bond with your rabbit by only spending time with your rabbit every few days or only for a few minutes. The most vital piece to creating a bond is to be consistent. Make time for it every day.