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Bonding and neutral space

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Jaimeh761

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Hi all. I've recently started the process of bonding. Boy/girl both fixed. We tried a 24/7 quicker bond approach and it failed. We are now doing a more slow introduction process and its going much better. Currently our buns are living in our laundry room separated by gate barriers. They can see and smell each other and cages mirror one another in every way. We have gotten to a point where we allow them individual time each day to separately free roam upstairs primarily in our loft area to get their binkys out and to also enforce our bond with our new girl and reinforce our existing bond with little guy who has been a little insecure due to the new bun. I have also utilized this to swap them between the two habitats in the laundry room after free time so they get more used to eachother's space and smells etc. We basically swap the buns between the 2 space daily. So far it really has been going so much better. Based on when i think they are ready, I plan to do their bunny dates in one of our bathrooms which is also a pretty neutral location. SO, here my question....assuming things go well and we progress and get to the point where bunny dates result well and we see they are pretty much bonded, where should they go next? Our male rabbit had free roam of the house prior with his main litter and overnight location in our upstairs loft. I have already laundered everything rabbit and plan to thoroughly clean the loft with vinegar etc. Should they always be kept in a pen type area? Will it ever be possible to house them back in our loft? Will they ever be able to safely free roam? I think it will be a while until we get to this point, but there seems to be a lack of instruction on what to do after they may have actually bonded? Hopefully we get there!
 

Blue eyes

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Once they are doing well consistently with the bonding sessions, the next step would be to house them in the same pen. Choose that location carefully. You want it to be wherever you intend to keep their "home base." Even when they get to the point of free roaming, they should still have a home base for their litter box and feeding area. Wherever you want that to be is where you'll set up this home base.

So once you've chosen and set up this home base area with an ex pen, that is their next step after showing consistent bonding success.

Then, once they've maintained that success in the new pen area for....days to week, (you'll need to judge that on how they seem)...then they can move on to the next phase.

The next phase would be to use another ex-pen and create a larger space around their current one. The idea here is to slowly increase their roaming area. If they are allowed too much space too soon, then territory disputes could disrupt the bond.

I'll attach a video showing this stage with one of my pairs. In this video, the female rabbit shows her happiness at being allowed out in the larger area. They had been confined in the home-base cage after having gone through a bonding process elsewhere in the house for many weeks. I'm only showing the video so you can see how I used the ex-pen to create a space around their base.

Depending on the size of the final roaming area, continue in increments to increase space. In my case, I was able to move from that pen to their full roam downstairs (small house ;) )

 

Jaimeh761

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Hi all. I've recently started the process of bonding. Boy/girl both fixed. We tried a 24/7 quicker bond approach and it failed. We are now doing a more slow introduction process and its going much better. Currently our buns are living in our laundry room separated by gate barriers. They can see and smell each other and cages mirror one another in every way. We have gotten to a point where we allow them individual time each day to separately free roam upstairs primarily in our loft area to get their binkys out and to also enforce our bond with our new girl and reinforce our existing bond with little guy who has been a little insecure due to the new bun. I have also utilized this to swap them between the two habitats in the laundry room after free time so they get more used to eachother's space and smells etc. We basically swap the buns between the 2 space daily. So far it really has been going so much better. Based on when i think they are ready, I plan to do their bunny dates in one of our bathrooms which is also a pretty neutral location. SO, here my question....assuming things go well and we progress and get to the point where bunny dates result well and we see they are pretty much bonded, where should they go next? Our male rabbit had free roam of the house prior with his main litter and overnight location in our upstairs loft. I have already laundered everything rabbit and plan to thoroughly clean the loft with vinegar etc. Should they always be kept in a pen type area? Will it ever be possible to house them back in our loft? Will they ever be able to safely free roam? I think it will be a while until we get to this point, but there seems to be a lack of instruction on what to do after they may have actually bonded? Hopefully we get there!
Thank you so much for this information! Makes sense. Do you think using the same home base area we used for our 1st bun will create territorial issues? If we clean it and rearrange the furniture? We've also been using this room for individual roaming sessions daily. t's just the best space for our rabbits but i don't want to cause and back peddling if it creates any territory issues
 

Blue eyes

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Using the same home base that was used for your 1st bun can still work by, as you said, cleaning it and re-arranging it. In my video above, that is what I did. That cage had been used by my happy girl with a bondmate that died. But with the new bonding, we had them in a totally different area during bonding. I think that is why she was so happy to be back in her prior area. Just don't rush that step of bringing them to their new permanent space. The better they are bonded, the less likely for disruptions.

As for them both now roaming in that area... that's an unknown. It depends on the individual rabbits. It's possible it will work to your advantage -- both being familiar with the space. However, it could also make them perceive the space as their own and needing defended. But hopefully each one recognizes the scent of the other that is left behind and they'll see it as shared space.
 

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