8 a.m. Sunday morning: a rustling noise disrupts my blissful doziness. Within a split second, my eyes pop open and head shoots up from the pillow. No, it couldn’t be — it is! Two little long-eared faces look just as startled to see me as I am to discover them. “There’s rabbits in here!,” I bark, flinging my feet to the floor and crouching down to snatch up Moraea as my groggy husband murmurs in snoozy confusion.
It emerges with no warning, clattering out of dark closets, the strange, shiny, hairless creature. Roaring incessantly – deafeningly – never stopping, not even to take a breath. It lurches menacingly around every room in the house, raging in and out of every nook and corner. It’s terrifying! The bane of house bunny existence: The Vacuum Cleaner.
But there is hope, fellow lagomorphs: we too used to fear this gruesome monster. But now when he appears, not only don’t we mind, we kind of enjoy it! If you’re still living in fear of Vacuumasaurus, tell your humans to read this article.
Moraea and Finnegan
Does your long-eared lad or lass have a nemesis like The Sizzle? Well, there might be a way to help them.
Years ago, I helped a woman adopt a rabbit after her previous one passed away. She fell in love with a beautiful silvery lop named Sheldon, and delightedly took him home. A few weeks later, she gave me a call. She was concerned because she and Sheldon weren’t “connecting”. In fact, he was avoiding her.
I asked what happened when she got close to Sheldon. She said she’d pick him up and cuddle him, but he would get away as quickly as he could. “Have you tried not picking him up?” I asked. Though I tried my best to work with this well-meaning bunny mom, in the end I failed. She became convinced that Sheldon was somehow defective and he was returned. On the brighter side, Sheldon went on to find a happy home.
Luring is a basic tool that is used routinely to move dogs around, distract them, or to initiate new behaviors like “sit” or “down”. It’s like the Swiss army knife of dog training. Just hold out a nice, tasty treat and Fido will follow you anywhere. But can you lure a rabbit?
You sure can.
It’s a simple and easy skill you can practice with your bun. It can come in handy for training other things, or any time you want your bunny to move. For example, a behavior like standing up on the hind legs or hopping up on a platform can be taught with a lure.
Your rabbit is peeling the wallpaper off your wall. How do you seek help? Talk to rabbit-lover friends? Call the rescue you adopted from? Google it?
Ever ask your vet?
Bun owners like me often consult a vet about a behavior that we suspect has a medical cause. One example is urination outside the litterbox. It’s sometimes thought to be caused by a bladder infection, so the vet is the obvious person to consult. However, recently I discovered that some veterinarians can also be of help with behavior concerns that aren’t directly linked to an illness or injury.
We need to leave for our vet appointment in less than ten minutes.
I’ve scooped up Monty, my furry white whale of a boy. It was easy only because he’d been asleep. Monty’s theme song? “Don’t Fence Me In.” He’s scaled thirty-six inch exercise pens. As I load him in the crate, he clearly disapproves. I manage to safely tuck his nose inside before hurriedly latching the door.
Now it’s Pixel’s turn. But my delicate diva of a daintily dappled Rex has been alerted by the flurry of Monty’s capture. She knows something’s up and wants none of it.
Come Saturday morning, Moraea, Finnegan, and I head out on an errand. When I open the car door, both bunnies joyfully hop right in. They ride with their noses pressed to the windows, excited to view the passing scenery. Arriving back home, they jump down from their little car seats and cheerfully follow me inside.
OK, that’s pure fantasy. As much as I’d love to bring my little fuzz-faces with me wherever I go, they wouldn’t like it; not one bit.
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Want something easy to train your bunny to do, that’s also useful? Try target training. That is, teaching your bun to touch his nose to a “target.”
Why Start With Target Training?
Target training is an excellent first exercise for both trainer and student. It’s a pretty simple thing for your rabbit to do, and the mechanics for you are not too complicated. The best part is, once you have trained this, you will have a way to tell your bun to move to a particular spot. That makes it a nice gateway to teaching other stuff — like, go to a mat, or get in a travel crate. Once your rabbit knows to touch the target, you can get him to go wherever you put it.