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bunny is attacking my kids

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NotaCocoaPuff

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I've had Fiona now for 3 months. She is very laid back, friendly but likes her private space. She has free roam in house but does not venture out of her space much. We think she may have been raised in a cage and is not comfortable exploring. She is about 2 years old. Recently we got a new bunny who we haven't named yet but we will call her Tabitha for now. She is 4 months old and was recently spayed. We have been bonding slowly over the past 4 weeks and things have been going great. I moved them into a shared pen 2 days ago and they are doing great. Tabitha is very outgoing, curious, into everything. She is high energy, loves attention, follows us around the hours, loves treats and handouts of whatever I am cooking... much like a toddler. I am keen to allow her plenty of time outside her pen for exercise. Last night we were watching TV in our room with my 9 year old and she and our little dog were playing, nothing out of the ordinary. Tabitha seemingly joined in the fun but next thing I know she is lunging at my daughter and every time she moved away Tabitha kept coming for her, bit her 3 or 4 times. She has done this once or twice to my younger daughter as well. Let me be clear, my kids are very kind and loving towards our bunnies. They do not harass them or be rough with them. In fact, they mostly leave them alone. Any thoughts on why she might be nipping at my kids and how to correct it? Thanks everyone!
 

Mariam+Theo

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Has Tabitha been spayed? How long ago? You should wait a month before bonding so that their hormones can die down.
I'm not sure why she attacked your daughter, but I would limit her space to a playpen so that she doesn't hurt someone else. She might have attacked because she doesn't know your daughter super well and your daughter could have smelled like something that Tabitha doesn't like. To possibly fix this issue I would get your kids to sit in the pen with her and read a book while she explores them. Let them give her treats when she does something good, and if she tries to nip you can press her head firmly to the ground a say "no."
 

NotaCocoaPuff

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Has Tabitha been spayed? How long ago? You should wait a month before bonding so that their hormones can die down.
I'm not sure why she attacked your daughter, but I would limit her space to a playpen so that she doesn't hurt someone else. She might have attacked because she doesn't know your daughter super well and your daughter could have smelled like something that Tabitha doesn't like. To possibly fix this issue I would get your kids to sit in the pen with her and read a book while she explores them. Let them give her treats when she does something good, and if she tries to nip you can press her head firmly to the ground a say "no."
thank you! I just needed to know how to “discipline” so to speak. We we’re trying treats yesterday. I thought if the kids give her treats and Tabitha can see them as non-threatening then maybe she’ll be nice.
 

JBun

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Last night we were watching TV in our room with my 9 year old and she and our little dog were playing, nothing out of the ordinary. Tabitha seemingly joined in the fun but next thing I know she is lunging at my daughter and every time she moved away Tabitha kept coming for her, bit her 3 or 4 times.
Are you certain she was actually joining in the play with your dog? Rabbits don't really play the way dogs do, and what you saw as play could actually have been your rabbit feeling threatened, and that's why she lashed out.

I've seen videos online of owners dogs 'play' chase with the pet rabbit, and the rabbit supposedly running away in play and having fun playing with the dog. But when looking closely at the rabbits behavior, it is clear that though the dog is clearly wanting to play, the rabbit is definitely not playing but that the rabbit is showing signs of defensiveness and darting away in fear.

Rabbit behavior is very different than that of dogs, and is often misinterpreted. Rabbit play is rarely interactive, very unlike the way dogs play, and a dog trying to have interactive play with a rabbit could be seen by that rabbit as aggressive threatening behavior. Because in the rabbit world, if another rabbit behaved in this same way(the way dogs play), it would be considered aggressive behavior and the rabbit would naturally try to defend itself or run away.

If you want to describe what your dog and daughter were doing to play, and what your rabbits behavior was during this play, we may be able to give you a better idea if your bun was playing or if it was a fear response and that is why the biting occurred. My instinct would be that your rabbit wasn't actually playing, felt threatened and lashed out, and your daughter unfortunately got the tail end of the referred aggression.
 

Blue eyes

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Here is an older post with a video showing the interaction of a dog and rabbit. The owner was mistaking this behavior as play and didn't recognize how threatened the rabbit actually was. It may serve as an example for comparison.
 

NotaCocoaPuff

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Are you certain she was actually joining in the play with your dog? Rabbits don't really play the way dogs do, and what you saw as play could actually have been your rabbit feeling threatened, and that's why she lashed out.

I've seen videos online of owners dogs 'play' chase with the pet rabbit, and the rabbit supposedly running away in play and having fun playing with the dog. But when looking closely at the rabbits behavior, it is clear that though the dog is clearly wanting to play, the rabbit is definitely not playing but that the rabbit is showing signs of defensiveness and darting away in fear.

Rabbit behavior is very different than that of dogs, and is often misinterpreted. Rabbit play is rarely interactive, very unlike the way dogs play, and a dog trying to have interactive play with a rabbit could be seen by that rabbit as aggressive threatening behavior. Because in the rabbit world, if another rabbit behaved in this same way(the way dogs play), it would be considered aggressive behavior and the rabbit would naturally try to defend itself or run away.

If you want to describe what your dog and daughter were doing to play, and what your rabbits behavior was during this play, we may be able to give you a better idea if your bun was playing or if it was a fear response and that is why the biting occurred. My instinct would be that your rabbit wasn't actually playing, felt threatened and lashed out, and your daughter unfortunately got the tail end of the referred aggression.
That was a typo... my daughter was playing with our dog and Tabitha simply joined the room. I in no way think she is playing with our dog but she does tend to join the group when the dog is playing with the kids.
I do agree that she most likely felt threatened and she’s not one to hide line Fiona. She’s more aggressive in that way. We’re trying to be mindful of our behaviors that may be triggering Tabithas biting and trying lots of love
 

NotaCocoaPuff

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As a side note... last night my younger daughter was sitting on the couch just sitting there and Tabitha jumped on the couch and just went after her. We tried pushing her head down and saying no but she kept coming. We just put her back in her enclosure.
 

JBun

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It sounds like your rabbit is developing overly aggressive behavior towards your kids. I would strongly suggest keeping your rabbit separated and not allowing her to have contact with your children for now. Then it's a matter of working with her and hopefully fixing these aggression issues. But it's also possible it can't be fixed, in which case I would never allow her around your kids. You may find some useful info in this link and the other links and references cited on the page.
 

NotaCocoaPuff

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It sounds like your rabbit is developing overly aggressive behavior towards your kids. I would strongly suggest keeping your rabbit separated and not allowing her to have contact with your children for now. Then it's a matter of working with her and hopefully fixing these aggression issues. But it's also possible it can't be fixed, in which case I would never allow her around your kids. You may find some useful info in this link and the other links and references cited on the page.
That's my fear. I feel so bad but I may have to return her to the rescue. Of course her and Fiona are bonded so I feel so guilty separating her from another mate. She had bonded with Farrah for about a month before Farrah passed away. I just can't have her free roam like Fiona and have to be so careful when my kids are home.
If anyone has any suggestions to try and get her to accept my kids please let me know! I've added some of the kids dirty laundry to there pen so that she gets used to their scent. I'm trying to have them feed her and give treats as safely as possible.
 
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