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21 July 2009

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Original Lori

Good stuff Mary Mary, thanks!

Mary Mary

Bunnies! Hurrah!



I teach classes on rabbit care and I get questions on litterbox issues more than any other topic. Questions on how to train ... and how to re-train after bun has fallen off the wagon (often a change in litter habits stems from a medical problem).



To litter train, start with a small area of the house, maybe one room or a room divided in half with a puppy training pen. Most people give their rabbits too much freedeom at first, which makes everything harder for bunny and human.



Put two or three litter boxes out in the room -- in the corners. Rabbits like to use the corners for bathrooms because no predators can sneak up behind them. When you catch them using the litterbox, praise! Praise! And use the word "litterbox." They are very capable of learning language. I trained a rabbit to do six stunts last year (jump a hurdle, sit up and beg, leap through the air) by voice command. He was fabulous.



Cat litter is bad bad bad, especially clumping. Newspaper-based litters are good, ex: Yesterday's News. I use Woody Pet litter, which is used in horse stalls. It's woodstove pellets, works perfectly to cover urine smell (their poop has zero smell beyond a slight hay-type odor), and safe to compost. Rabbits are a very green pet ... they are vegan and you can use their waste for fertilizer. I dump litterboxes around the perimeter of my garden and the wild rabbits leave my garden alone. How about that!



I tell owners there is a big difference between hard poops and urine. If a rabbit leaves a poop or two around the house (not 50 but literally, one or two) to mark territory, that is NOT a poorly trained rabbit. If she is peeing outside the litterbox, that is a different story and needs to be resolved.



Litter training is MUCH easier if the rabbit is spayed or neutered and if the rabbit is solo. They are territorial animals, especially female to female.



In my house, I always have at least one foster rabbit, and often many more than that. When my female pet rabbit was alive, she did not appreciate my bringing home other females -- even though I NEVER brought them to her floor. When I brought home girl rabbits I trapped in fields or rescued straight from owners, they were never spayed. Those bunnies would stink -- not to me, but to my pet. So my rabbit would go up onto my bed and leave some poops. NOT TO PUNISH ME. But to let that intruder know who was queen of the hill.



So many people get rid of their bunnies because of litter problems that are 100 percent solvable. Rabbits are often easier to train than owners.



As for dogs and cats ...



I have met hundreds and hundreds of rabbit owners. I would say most also have a dog or cat, and many have both. I foster and petsit dogs and I've had a Jack Russell, Belgian Shepherd and Shepherd/Collie mix stay with me for extended periods with no problems.



This is the best footage I've ever seen of a dog and rabbit together. The good part starts at 2:00



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfaj6ACE3Fo



What Weber does at the end, the wild leaping, is called a "binky." That's one of the stunts I taught to my agility bun last year.



Rabbits are blessed and cursed with their looks. Most are "cute" even as adults, and they are just not taken seriously. Once you know how to read their body language, you find out how smart and WILLFUL they can be.



Great resource for that here:

http://language.rabbitspeak.com/

Gina Spadafori

OL ... thanks for Disapproving Rabbits. Great find. :)

Smaki

Our Basset Hound got along just fine with the rabbits. I don't think the cat cared much about them, either.

Annie

Rabbits can definitely be litter-trained. I first kept my now 12 year old dwarf hotot rabbit in a cage but noticed that she went in the same area of her cage every time so I let her out in the house and trained her to go in a litter box.



It was a big challenge when I got my first dog though. Turns out my shelter dog is mostly border collie and terrier so she has a big prey drive but now they get along pretty well and play together sometimes.



I never did get my rabbit use to walking with a harness though... She always managed to squirm out of them.

Original Lori

oh and also...one of my favorite blogs



http://www.disapprovingrabbits.com/



She seems to always have her rabbits out with her on their own little harnesses.

Christie Keith

Rabbits can easily be litter trained... I have no clue HOW you do that, if it's like cats and the moms do it, or what, but every rabbit owner I've known has said they are easy to train to use a litter box, and I've never seen rabbit poops in their houses, LOL...

Smaki

Can rabbits be litter trained? My family had two and while they were quite cute and it was lots of fun to watch them hop around the house, they pooped EVERYWHERE. Little rabbit poops for the dog to vacuum up.

Christie Keith

Gina had house rabbits with cats and dogs, and Donna Jensen, who I interview in the article, has cats, dogs, and rabbits...

Gina Spadafori

Just so happens we have a regular reader who can talk about rabbbits and box-training. Paging Mary Mary!

Original Lori

I was waiting for Mary Mary too, to ask if one can have a house rabbit with other pets such as cats and dogs in house. And the poop, I was wondering about the poop, too... :O) There are so many that need fostering and adoption on petfinder...

Gina Spadafori

Tammy ... a lot of people have cats and rabbits, and they get along very well. Dogs, however, can be very problematic.



That said, I have fond memories of two pets -- retriever Ben and rabbit Turbo -- who got along so well the rabbit slept next to the retriever. Turbo also once JUMPED over a sleeping Ben to get to the litter box.

Tammy

I had a rabbit as a kid - kept in a hutch outside... Knowing what I do now about rabbits, he probably wasn't very happy! I'd love to have a house rabbit at some point. My kitties probably wouldn't be too happy about it though!

bgermanrottweilers

That's so cute that this lady Jennifer sleeps with her bunnies, I never thought that rabbits could be so pet-like like dogs and cats. :)

Kate M

Rabbits can also do agility. Not quite as fast as dogs, but it sure does bring a crowd.



http://www.CanadianRabbitHoppingClub.com



Rabbits also have a way of getting you to do what they want. Some will bother you until you give some treats or a special piece of food. They will use their cuteness against you.

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