You love pets and don’t want to limit yourself to just one species. So you plan to have a rabbit and a dog live together, but you wonder if the two animals can get along well. We help you answer the question.
The dog’s temperament
If you already have a dog, your pet’s temperament will determine whether you can accommodate a rabbit as well. As a rule, large dogs are quiet and calm, friendly and obedient dogs. Small dogs are more aggressive and their behavior is less straightforward. Obviously, these tendencies can vary from dog to dog, depending on its breed and the education it has received. Either way, you already know whether or not it is possible to accommodate a rabbit.
The meeting between the rabbit and the dog will be easier if the dog is trained rather than if the dog is very young, and therefore fiery and impulsive.
The possible disturbance of the dog
If you have developed a specific relationship with your dog, it may be disrupted by the arrival of a new home, especially if the relationship was exclusive. Indeed, if your dog has developed the habit of being very close to you, he will be more likely to develop reactions that can be described as “jealousy”. This term is problematic because it leads back to a human universe. Analyzed from the dog’s point of view, the situation is measured above all in terms of the extent of the change.
Animals that have not received the proper education and that are very dependent on their master or mistress, will be more sensitive to changes in the relationship. The arrival of a new inhabitant often changes the links between the animal and its owner. The dog no longer finds the behaviors that he knew, he loses his bearings. This can trigger a real stress at home and result in a loss of appetite, by restarting the habit of defecating in the home, or, depending on the dog, an increase in its aggressiveness, behavior that can be fatal to the rabbit.
Make cohabitation possible
It is possible to have a dog cohabit with a rabbit, but it must be done step by step.
The bad reflexes to ban are to keep the dog away by locking it up when you take the rabbit out of its cage or not to pay it as much attention as before. If you are aggressive towards him while he was with the rabbit, his aggressiveness towards the rabbit can increase tenfold.
On the contrary, it will be necessary to organize the adaptation smoothly and gradually, without wanting to cut corners, and especially without wanting at all costs that the dog and the rabbit be the best friends in the world. If they mix smoothly, it is already a very satisfactory situation.
Opt for rewards when the dog behaves as expected, especially when he is calm when you have the rabbit against you. Little by little, your dog will figure out what to do.
The stages of cohabitation
The first contact must be made when the rabbit is protected in its cage. This one feels safe. And the dog can freely approach and get acquainted with the smells of the new occupant. It is important to make your dog understand that he must remain calm in the presence of this other animal. You talk to him softly and stroke him. If he were to bark or kick the cage, move him away and speak up to scold him, but without hitting him. A well-trained dog will obey more easily and the relationship will be faster to form between the two animals.
Once you are sure the dog is standing still in the previous situation, you can move on to step two. It consists in letting the rabbit leave its cage in the presence of your dog, on a leash to ward off any unexpected aggressive reaction. Keep up the rewards if your dog stays good. The meeting will not really be completed until the two animals lick each other.
When you are sure that the dog can sit still in the presence of the rabbit, you can pick up the rabbit on your lap and let the dog approach if it wants to. Don’t force it.
Then wait several months to leave them in the presence of each other free and unattended. This step may never be taken if the dog is not completely reliable, if it continues to show signs that it wants to chase the rabbit or attack it.
If you welcome the dog after the rabbit
When the rabbit is the first to be taken in, it is used to moving around freely outside its cage. In this case, the dog, which will probably be young, will need to be restrained and placed in a sort of cage that allows him to observe the rabbit moving from a distance.
When he is used to seeing him, he can approach the rabbit. The dog is then kept on a leash to ward off unexpected reactions. Ideally, there are two of you: one holding the dog and the other the rabbit. You pet the bunny while talking kindly to the dog and the bunny. The dog should understand that he should not attack the rabbit because he is not a threat. There will also be those times when the rabbit will be in its cage and the dog can freely approach. Check that he is not barking or fidgeting and reward him if he behaves calmly.