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Behavior modification, Punishment, Correction, Negative Reinforcement, Choices, Consequences, Safety

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Now that I've got your attention, let me be perfectly clear:
I have never & will never physically harm my bunny.

That being said, my goal
IS to get him to obey a few very specific COMMANDS for safety.


BTW, his name is "Fatty Pants" & he's a 16 week old Flemish Giant.:)

I have read countless times that bunnies are very smart, are more intelligent than everyone thinks & are surprisingly trainable, etc.

TRICKS are fun & are easily taught by rewarding desired behavior (treats, clicker training, etc.)

Aka
Positive Reinforcement.

But what stops UNDESIRED behavior, or ensures following a few COMMANDs?

Does anyone have any advice re- training techniques to teach a bun that he
has the CHOICE to follow a COMMAND, rather than experience a (fair & humane!) CONSEQUENCE?

Before everybody goes nuts, let me explain:



This post is NOT about FORCING Fatty Pants to do something, or tolerate anything for my enjoyment or my entertainment (ex. being cuddled, wearing a costume, or riding in a stroller.)

Furthermore, this post is NOT about using safety COMMANDs to stop or discourage behaviors that are GENETICALLY PROGRAMMED by rabbit DNA
(ex. chewing, nibbling.)

Suppressing GENETICALLY DRIVEN behavior via a COMMAND is both abusive & disrespectful of the rabbit species.

Genetically driven behaviors that are perceived as inconvenient & annoying by humans
should be addressed by PROPER BUNNY PROOFING.

I am referring to specific
COMMANDs for SAFETY:
"No, Leave it, Get down"

I seek advice teaching Fatty Pants that he
has the CHOICE to follow a COMMAND, RATHER THAN experience a (fair & humane!) CONSEQUENCE.


Has anyone trained a bun to obey (withOUT fail!) a few specific COMMANDs for safety?

I have read countless times that bunnies are very smart, are more intelligent than everyone thinks & are surprisingly trainable, etc.

Obeying a few select safety COMMANDS could be valuable & perhaps life saving...

EXAMPLE:
Dropping a glass object which shatters into a million dangerous shards of glass...


A rock solid, no nonsense, obeyed "NO" or "LEAVE IT" safety COMMAND would allow VERBALLY preventing bun from injury, or worse.

Many posts mention manipulating the environment.

And, other than saying "No," in an authoritative tone and HOPING that your bun decides to listen this time, rather than go explore the new and interesting shards of glass...

Or making loud noises (clapping hands, shaking rattle jar,) has anyone found a humane and fair way to
correct their bun?

I.e.,
NEGATIVE REINFORCEMENT
(yup, I said it.)


Negative reinforcement requires administering a fair & humane CONSEQUENCE (i.e., correction,
punishment) that the bun has the CHOICE to AVOID, simply by following the COMMAND.

The only NEGATIVE REINFORCEMENT tool I've read about is misting w/ a SPRAY BOTTLE of water.


Does anyone have any comments re- misting w/ water, or other have any suggestions?
 

Preitler

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Welcome, wow, that really must have been a lot of work to make that post unreadable ;)

Despite of that I read at least some parts of it ( all that scrolling...), as far as I remember what Liung posted on a similiar matter was quite interesting:
https://www.rabbitsonline.net/threads/how-to-stop-bunny-from-rattling-his-cage.93131/#post-1105117

I would say it's more complex than with dogs, imho rabbits have no sense of wrongdoing - when you punish them they will just avoid you because you are the problem.
 
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Nancy McClelland

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As with any animal, there are specific behaviors--birds don't act like dogs, dogs don't act like cats and so on. Bunnies have no sense of wrong so it's up to YOU to make their environment safe. If you have a "biter" you can emulate an "alpha" rabbit and train them to not rip out chunks of flesh but the modifications are limited and rewards go a long way in training. I tell my friends to train their rabbit rather than letting it train you. A friend had one that nipped when you picked her up--we baby sat for a week and he was surprised that I could pick her up and cradle her with no nipping as he'd have to hold her facing out or she'd nip at him so he'd put her down. Read up on rabbit behavior--we have about 20 books and have rescued 47 over the last 2 decades and a third of them were at shelters because of bad behaviors.
 
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Thank you for your reply.
Which 20 books do you recommend???
There is just as much mis-information as there is valuable information.
Do you have a specific book recommendation, person, or articles in mind?
I am a voracious reader.
Thank you so very much.
 

Scarly

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One of my rabbits has a 100% (so far for 2 years) reliable come. She's super food motivated so I initially did it with treats, then just rustling a treat bag and now she just does is when she's called. She also freezes when I do a 'pssst' sound and won't move for a solid 10 seconds. I've used it when something has dropped on the floor that she's not supposed to eat when she runs for it. Of course, I always reward with a treat after. As far as leave it or drop it I find that it's more of a pitch and sound that she responds to than the words. Also once something is in her mouth there's no way of getting it out so drop it wouldn't work on her lol.
Good luck!
 

samoth

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Which 20 books do you recommend???
There is just as much mis-information as there is valuable information.
Do you have a specific book recommendation, person, or articles in mind?
I am a voracious reader.
I like books, too, so I'll butt in here :)

My favorite general book is Marit Buseth's Rabbit Behavior, Health, and Care.
 

April LD

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This is an interesting topic! So, hopefully no one will get mad at me but, I found the whole "Ouch" shriek when bitten not work. So I bit my bunny back. Not hard mind you, on the ear. Said "No, Bite. We don't bite, we give love and snuggles."

Now I did this with the litters as little babies. I would give them love and I would put my chin over the top of their head and "claim" them at the same time, letting them know I was the alpha. I would give them kisses and love until they settled and chomped. This worked. I do not have bunnies that bite. They may nip as a warning, or even a little love nip and put their head under your hand for attention, but, generally, they will not break the skin and it does not hurt, if they nip. Most of mine nudge your, scratch at your clothes, or jump on you for attention and love.

Early on, I did use the word NO and NO, NO, ZONE! These words I still use. I believe that these work, but you have to be consistent. If you are looking for a way to train - then you have to find a place that they would not normally go for "punishment" i.e. bathtub. So when they do something you don't approve you say "NO" and then result in 3 mins in the bathtub.

Rabbits are smart, like to be the boss, and push the boundary - just like any 2- 3 year old child. But physical abuse is not the key - it only makes them fear you, hate/resent you. REINFORCEMENT and CONSISTENCY is the key. This and A LOT OF PATIENCE. It is best to start early/young to get best results...If you are not going to work on this for months on end, be consistent EVERY TIME then don't bother. All you will do is confuse them. You can't neglect it once! Not once! Rabbits are UBER smart, they will test you, but if you are consistent they can learn...but this will not be easy, and you will get frustrated.

All my pets have been like my children. I speak to them as though they are kids, I treated them as though they are kids, and I have been super lucky that they learn the rules. I mean, don't get me wrong, I have diggers make a mess of their potty's, have 2 rabbits with cage aggression, they are far from perfect. But they understand: "NO" (still test me sometimes!), "Be nice!", want up, freshies, need help (I have a special needs bun and sometimes he needs help scratching his ear), kisses (they will boop my nose with theirs)...can't think of any others right now...they all know their name.

I believe it can be done....and it is true that REWARDING GOOD BEHAVIOR works well too. I will do that. If my buns are being good in the house I will offer a bit of pellets (they do not get pellets daily) or a treat (piece of papaya, special chew stick, dried herbs/leaves). If they are being exceptionally good: not digging at furniture (they have a box of newspaper to dig in), staying off the side table, using the potty to poop in too (some of my younger rabbits still poop around the open space and not use the litter box) - so these extra good behaviors are rewarded with a treat and a Good Boy/Girl, some head pets and maybe some kisses - if they are so inclined.

Hope this helps
 

lavendertealatte

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i'm not sure how true this is but i read somewhere that rabbits discipline the young ones by pressing their head down. I have done this with bunster (gently but enough force so he knows i'm doing it) and it seems to work to reestablish that i'm the boss and that he did something wrong, cause he usually seems to behave apologetically and affectionately after. unfortunately it doesn't really cause him to stop the behavior as he generally will find his way back to it (hopping on top of a very tall precarious plastic drawer setup in search for food he can smell lol).. so yeah i didn't answer your question.
 
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