Bonding a trio

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kirbyultra

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For somewhat selfish human reasons I hope that I can bond my current pair (Kirby & Penny) with my boy Toby. It would be so much easier if they could all be together at once and share playtime, etc.

Some background: All 3 are spayed and neutered. Toby and Kirby are two boys who I failed miserably to bond last year. Kirby was always pretty scared of Toby and Toby seemed to anxious and aggressive whenever he saw Kirby. They never got along so I gave up earlier this year. 6 months ago I adopted Penny and she bonded with Kirby after a few weeks. Penny and Toby have never been formally introduced. Toby lives in the living room, while the pair lives in the other bedroom.

I opted not to put Toby's Leith condo in the same room as the pair because the last time Toby lived side-by-side with Kirby, he lunged at Kirby every chance he got and their relationship was totally sour. Toby pretty much held a grudge against him every time he got to go out and play and he had to be in. He just seems to have a complex about it.

So now... I'm in a tough spot. Kirby appears to be the dominant bun in the bonded pair. I'm supposed to bond the dominant bun with the newcomer right? That would mean Kirby and Toby all over again, right? Eek.

Any advice for me? :expressionless
 

elrohwen

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Hey, good luck!

I think it's up to you which pair you bond first. Sometimes it helps to bond the dominant bun to the newcomer first, but it can also be helpful to bond the easier pair first. If Penny and Toby get along, Penny might be helpful in getting Kirby to accept Toby. Also, since it seemed like Toby had a lot of issues relating to another rabbit and reading body language, he might have an easier time with Penny than he did with Kirby, and then might be able to transfer his new relationship skills to Kirby. So my advice would be to start with the pair you've never tried and see how it goes, since you already know that Kirby and Toby will could be a real challenge.

Knowing Toby's personality, I would start with small space stressing like a laundry basket or a cube made of NIC grids. The less space he has to think about the other rabbit and be reactive, the better, I think. If he just has to sit there and accept the presence of a new rabbit, he might learn to relax a little bit. If his first experience with Penny is in a space large enough for a fight (and he might provoke a fight) it might just increase his fear that other rabbits are out to get him.

Good luck!
 

kirbyultra

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Oh, thanks so much for the input, Laura. I think I will attempt Penny and Toby just to see how it goes, if it's got any potential at all. I mean, if it cannot be done... then I can move on with my life. But if it shows promise, then I'll work on it. I completely agree that Toby will need some pre-bonding stressing. He stresses easily because he is scared of a LOT of things (and is one of the reason he lashes out), so I don't actually know how he will react to being stressed for bonding. It may work well, or it may backfire. But I guess I'll find out!
 

elrohwen

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Yeah, hopefully the stressing just makes him curl up quietly in a ball, rather than lash out. At least while the stressing is going on the majority of rabbits just remain very still, which would definitely work to your advantage.
 

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