Rabbits are great pets! Every day, more and more Americans are discovering how wonderful keeping a rabbit can be. Why deal with all of the trouble of keeping a dog when you can have a furry pet that’s low-maintenance that your kids will love? Rabbits fit the bill.
Rabbits are friendly, don’t need a ton of attention, are good snuggle buddies, and they even can be potty trained! You don’t have to worry about your rabbit ruining your shoes, and they’re a fantastic starter pet for children.
The one thing you’ll have to deal with is that rabbits can often be shy animals. They are, by nature, wary of humans. All that means is that they need some warming up to you and your family before they will feel completely comfortable being held, handfed, etc.
Thankfully, there are things you and your kids can do to get your rabbit to trust you faster. Soon, you’ll form a bond with the rabbit and create plenty of wonderful life memories with your pet.
Here are nine tips for getting your rabbit to trust you.
Tip 1 – Take Things Slowly
Rabbits are cautious animals. They don’t appreciate sudden movements and you shouldn’t expect them to trust you immediately. It’s going to take some work, but if you’re willing to put in the effort, earning their trust is totally doable.
The first thing you should probably do is adjust your expectations. Rabbits aren’t going to come running when you walk in the door as a puppy will, and you’ll need to build your relationship with them over time.
Go slowly and let your rabbit adjust to your home, your family, and how you interact with it.
Tip 2 – Don’t Yell
Rabbits are sensitive to loud noises. They are already a bit of a jumpy animal. Loud noises will make them nervous and afraid. When you are interacting with your bunny, speak to them in soft, soothing tones that will make them feel at ease.
A lot of owners say that rabbits respond very positively to soft voices, even coming up to people and purring, licking, or snuggling with whoever is speaking to them.
Tip 3 – Give Them Treats!
Bunnies, like a lot of other animals, will respond very well to treats as an incentive. Providing treats helps build association for your rabbit.
For example, if you give them treats when they behave in a way you want them to, they’ll start to realize that doing something is a great way to get more treats.
It’s also a fantastic way to build trust because your rabbit starts seeing you as a source of yummy treats instead of anything they need to be afraid of.
Tip 4 – Don’t Force Things
If you try to pick up your rabbit and they are always running or squirming to get out, it’s a sign that they’re not ready. For it to work best and to build their trust, you should wait for your bunny to come to you.
You can entice it with plenty of encouragement in the form of kind words and treats, but the first move should come from them.
The last thing you want to do is move too quickly or try to force them into your lap or something. They’ll become even more distrustful and you’ll have to start over from scratch.
Tip 5 – Take What They Give You
Eventually, your bunny will realize that you’re not a threat and they’ll start to warm up to you. When this happens, you should take what your rabbit gives you. At first, that may just be spending time in your presence.
Then, you’ll move to things like hand feeding and petting. At some point, you will be able to hold your bunny or have them jump in your lap to spend some quality time with you.
It’s an amazing feeling when you start to see your bunny seek you out and want to spend time in your lap or on the couch next to you.
Tip 6 – Give Them Some Space
We know it’s harder for people who live in small apartments, but building trust with your rabbit means giving them space so they don’t feel like they are trapped in a threatening situation.
Allow them to roam through your house where they can explore and get the lay of the land.
Once they know where they are living and that there aren’t any predators lurking in some corner, they’ll be more inclined to trust you.
It’s nice for them to know where they can hide or run just in case. They won’t need to, but they’ll feel more at ease knowing they have some room to breathe.
Tip 7 – Give Them Some Toys
Rabbits are playful animals, so getting them appropriate toys is another terrific way to bond with them and build trust.
You can find plenty of chew toys and other rabbit toys online or at your local pet store. Offer them up slowly with soothing words and they should be up to have a good time.
Tip 8 – Don’t Scoop Them Up from Above
When you’re trying to pick up your rabbit, you must do it the right way. Too many people stand above their rabbits and try to scoop them up from under their belly.
That might work for some people, but a lot of rabbits are particularly afraid of fingers coming from directly above because they can look like hawk talons. Instead, try cuddling up next to them and encourage them to hop onto your lap.
Tip 9 – Just Spend Time with Them
The more time you spend around your rabbit, the more they’ll trust you. Treat your bunny well and they’ll start to warm up and will seek you out.
A rabbit is never going to be as expressive of a pet as a dog or talking parrot, but they’re amazing pets that enjoy the company of people they trust.
Once your bunny trusts you, they’ll want to spend time with you and you’ll love watching a show or relaxing in a chair with your fluffy bunny.