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Bunny bonding training for lap sitting and being held

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ToffeeBun

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Hi Guys!!

My bunny's name is Toffee, she's an adorable Holland Lop that I've had since she was 8 weeks old, and she just turned 5 months old about a week ago (11/12/2020). She has free roam of my apartment, and she loves exploring (unless the stove or dishwasher are on, and then she's hiding under the bookcase without fail). She's a very curious bunny, and once she turned 4 months old my husband and I had to start closing off the bedroom because a little adolescent bad bunny behavior, but other than that she's been a very good bun. I do have a couple training questions for bonding and overall bunny enrichment.

Toffee loooooves to cuddle next to me when I'm laying on the floor, and loves to be hugged with my arm around her in her hutch (of course while simultaneously being pet), but she still HATES being picked up and still doesn't just hang out on my lap EVER. Right now it seems like she's most content cuddling with me anytime I'm in the most uncomfortable position. So it's starting to ware on my body a bit.

So I'd love to get some insight if it's somehow linked to how our daily routine is currently, because if it is, I'd happily change it in order to snuggle with her a bit more comfortably. Once she turned 3 months old she started digging at our bedroom door like a maniac, so we decided to have her in her hutch overnight so we could get some sleep. Since we are up late, she is in her hutch around 11:30pm/12am. It's a two tiered hutch (might as well be a bunny condo, haha) that is big enough for her litter box and for her to stretch out completely (even with toys). But she hates going into it every night, so I can't shake the feeling that since she feels tricked every night to go into her hutch, she doesn't want to be picked up or lay in my lap.

She's very comfortable in my apartment and has really taken to the name training to get her to come to me, which is really exciting. She's also super clever and enjoys mazes, puzzles. So I'm just wandering if there is anything else I can be doing to encourage this behavior, or if I just need to be patient and continue doing what I'm doing. Thank you for any help!!!
 

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Mariam+Theo

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Do you pick her up to put her in the hutch? That could be why she doesn't like being held if the only time she is getting held is when you put her in the hutch. Do you think you could train her "hutch"? You could train her during the day to run into her hutch when you say the word and get rewarded with a treat. The treat would train her that the hutch is a good thing, and letting her in there during the day would show her that the hutch is not only for night time. Could y'all possibly let her out before noon?
 

Diane R

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Most bunnies hate being restrained in any way. Perhaps you can get her to jump on the sofa with food bribes but I would just be grateful she loves being pet on the floor. Yes, I'm sure she doesn't like being locked up at night, maybe try a room divider so she can free roam but not disturb you?
 

Anna R.

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I had a rabbit I used to let out during the day and then put her in her cage at night. At first she refused to go "home". So, I trained her to go home on command. It didn't take very long. All I would have to do is say "home" and shake the bag of treats and she would run as fast as she could into her cage. She knew she was getting a treat; so, using treats as rewards does work very well. You might try something like that.
You can also try picking her up during the day when you aren't putting her in her hutch and reward her with a treat for getting picked up. She will then associate getting picked up with getting a treat and it won't be so bad for her to be picked up. Of course some rabbits just hate to be picked up period, so I can't guarantee this will work. Just depends on your rabbit and how she responds.
 

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