Difficult Bonding...I could really use some REAL advice

Help Support RabbitsOnline:

Sindri27

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2013
Messages
122
Reaction score
18
Location
NULL
I got my second rabbit in August. Before I decided to get her a put in lots of thought and read probably everything on the internet and went back and read more. As a matter of fact my husband told me to quite reading and watching the videos. hehe So I couldn't get to a rabbit shelter to do bunny dating I checked Craigslist to see if I could find a bunny on there. I wanted an older bunny but fell in love with a baby. So I had plenty of time to do pre- bonding stuff like bedding, litterboxes exchanging stuff like that. I would set the rabbit's cages side by side for visits in our living room. I figured they would get use to each other over time and it would make bonding easy.
My problem is my male rabbit is aggressive towards my female. All but one session did he not attack her and it was because I was stress bonding and he was scared. The second session like that he attacked her several times off and on. These sessions are not working out.
I had thought that stress bonding was going to work. However I noticed a couple of things afterwards. my male rabbit was scared of me both of them actually but it was affecting my male the worst. I don't want that type of relationship with pets. He will make sad little noises and run from me and hide. We have always had a great bond. I don't want to ruin it. My second problem is that my female will not interact with the male she will sit frozen and then if she makes the slightest of moves my male will attack. I have since quit bonding again.
I could REALLY use some advice. REAL advice no links please because I 99% sure I have already read them. Has anyone ever had this type of situation? If so how did they resolve it?
I am at a loss as to what to do. I really don't want to give up.
Sindri
 

Sindri27

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2013
Messages
122
Reaction score
18
Location
NULL
Yes they are both neutered and spayed. I guess I didn't specify that well. When I got my female back in Aug. I had several months to do pre bonding things since she couldn't be spayed until the being of Nov.
 

Sindri27

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2013
Messages
122
Reaction score
18
Location
NULL
I got timed out during my writing my first thread that I hurried and tried to re write it before getting timed out again. I see now I left the part out about spaying and neutering sorry about that.
 

Sindri27

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2013
Messages
122
Reaction score
18
Location
NULL
Like I mentioned before I got timed out on my original thread posting I posted again in a hurry. When I mentioned I didn't want any links I didn't want basic bonding site info I have read pretty much all of them and even have some favorited. I really wanted someone to read MY situation and tell me what I should try if there was something different I could do is all. If it sounds mean or bad that I said that I didn't want links I am sorry to everyone out there. Zombiesue your comment sounds kind of mean. That's the only way I can take it. I just was hoping for some advice about my situation is all. I do not know anyone personally who has bonded rabbits. All my family think I have a zoo and I should just throw my rabbits together and fight it out. That's not the right thing to do. Any advice is helpful at this point. I am just tired of going threw the same thing over and over again no matter how I change up the situation. Maybe they aren't ment to be bonded but I feel its way too early to throw in the towel.
 

Blue eyes

Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Mar 19, 2012
Messages
8,529
Reaction score
5,785
Location
Arizona, USA
My opinion is that there really is no such thing as pre-bonding. Once bunny comes home from the vet, she will seem like a brand new bunny to the existing bun. So any pre-neuter relationships don't seem to mean much. I believe Jennifer (Imbrium) went through this with her 2 girls. What a time she had!

I also am not a big fan of stress bonding. If two bunnies happen to be an easy match, stress bonding isn't going to hurt. But if 2 buns aren't meant for each other, I think any bond formed from stress has the potential to fail.

I know that some are of the opinion that any 2 buns can bond. I do not share that view -- at least not exactly. I have had a few extremely stressful and difficult bond attempts and I made the decision that it just wasn't worth the stress to me or to the buns to force the issue. Others have all the patience in the world and will take months and months to bond a pair. I found myself weighing the amount of stress and what I think is fair to the rabbits. That's me. I'm not knocking those that don't share my opinion.

If I were in your shoes, I think I would consider completely separating the two bunnies for a full 2 months -- out of sight, out of smell (if possible). Then, when I felt up to it, I would choose a new neutral location and try one more time. If your boy is still very aggressive toward her, I would give it up and assume they aren't a good match.

As a side note, I've also heard about the switching of cages and litter boxes, etc to get them used to each other. This was recommended to me for one of my more recent bond attempts when it was not progressing. I had not tried this with prior bonds. But having tried it this last time, I'm convinced that that was one of the contributing factors to causing their bond attempt to make a drastic turn for the worse. Again, it could be that this method works for buns that are already inclined to get along. For the two I was trying to bond, it had the opposite effect.

I ended up exchanging the one bun for another (through a rescue, thankfully). This time, I made sure to start with all neutral items. Nothing in the bonding area was familiar. All the hides and blankets and litter boxes were all new to them.

I did NOT do the short bonding sessions over a period of time this time around. I did a method I had read about on a UK site. The buns are put together in the neutral space and kept there 24/7 with constant monitoring. If you are unfamiliar with this type of bonding, I can give you the link.

So those are my OPINIONS on bonding. There is no one way or one right method. I'm just sharing my thoughts.
 

zombiesue

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 9, 2013
Messages
391
Reaction score
95
Location
Des Moines, IA
Okay, I'm sensing you're at the end of your rope here, so taking a break (which it sounds like you're doing) is probably wise.

Your original post is pretty vague. What exactly have you tried? How do you stress bond? How long are your sessions usually? Where are they? How do you breakup fights? When do you break up fights? What other behaviors are going on?
 

Imbrium

Jennifer
Joined
Aug 13, 2012
Messages
6,160
Reaction score
1,125
Location
Houston, Texas
If you feel like you're not getting anywhere and that trying to bond them is having a negative impact on your relationships with them, then I definitely recommend a break. Keep them where they can't see or smell each other for at *least* 3-4 weeks (and make sure you don't go to interact with one of them smelling like the other, too) - this allows them to forget about each other (and their fighting) and essentially "reboots" the bonding process so that you can get a fresh start. During that time, focus on rebuilding your relationships with them individually.

I know you don't want any links, but just in case you haven't come across this site (heck, I only found out about it very recently), you really should look into the bonding articles at wheekwheekthump - she's not afraid to take an unconventional approach to bonding and a lot of the advice on that site actually contradicts info that's on a LOT of other bonding sites (and rightfully so). These two in particular may help you find a way to approach bonding with a fresh mindset (the link above is to search results showing all bonding related articles):
4 Rabbit Bonding Beliefs That Aren’t Always True
5 Ways You’re HURTING Your Rabbits’ Bonding (When You Think You’re Helping)
 

Sindri27

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2013
Messages
122
Reaction score
18
Location
NULL
Thanks for the info. This is what I have done thus far to answer ZombieSue's questions. I started bonding the last week of Nov. I had 4 bonding sessions that lasted around 20 minutes each in my bathtub. I used a strainer and a vacumm to stop fights. The strainer worked but the vacumm didnt. Everytime my female moved and moves my male attacks her and rips her fur out. So I took a 3 week break. They each have their own rooms. They cant see each other. So I decided to try bonding again in our main bathroom to switch things up. My rabbits are named Usagi and Kilala btw. Usagi is the male and the female is Kilala. Usagi starts attacking Kilala right away. He pays no attention to his enviroment he just goes in for the kill. I break it up and try a couple more times. I called the session off quickly and decided to try stress bonding. I have read different ways of doing it. I wanted a car drive but my husband wasnt willing to help so I took a box put the rabbits in it and walked them around the house stopping in the kitchen to drag it across the kitchen floor a few times here and there. I got a stroller out and wheeled them around the house. I would stop off and on to pet them. That is the only time fighting didnt occur thats because Usagi was the scaredest I have ever seen him.The session lasted 30 minutes or so. The next day I was getting them together to do the same thing and Usagi was making all kinds of sad little sounds running and hiding from me.I finally caught him and put him in with Kilala. As soon as he got the chance he attacked Kilala ripping out lots of fur. She then just sat as still as possible. This session I did the same things I did as the day before except they visisted in the tub in our main bathroom they had never been in before. Fights broke out off and on. Each time Usagi attacked Kilala when she moved. It lasted 40 minutes. Usagi did groom Kilala but when she moved he attacked her. So anyways not to drag this out. It always goes this way. Usagi always wants to attack Kilala and she wont interact out of fear. I am starting to feel these two arent ment to be bonded. I dont like the stress bonding either being Usagi was so scared of me for days afterwards. Kilala got over it faster than he did. I love my animals and I cant imagine going threw months of this and them not be bonded and my bunnies hating me. So it sounds like I need another break again. Thanks again. ZombieSue I hope I gave you detailed info to help better understand the situation.:)
 

zombiesue

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 9, 2013
Messages
391
Reaction score
95
Location
Des Moines, IA
Ohhh my God this is hard to follow, you need to use new paragraphs more lol. Help me help you so to speak.

I read it though. So, about Usagi getting scared. When I first got my rabbit, I don't think I really bonded with him for a year or so. My relationship with my first rabbit improved tenfold when I stopped treating him like glass. So, if you don't want to bond them, that's fine, you could get used to two single buns or possibly relinquish one. Only you know yourself well enough to decide what's worth it for you.

If you do want to bond them, and I think you still could, then repeat after me:

Rabbits are hearty animals. They are capable of living through momentary discomfort.

There are some people with rabbits that act like you need to raise your buns in a bubble and rush to their rescue any time they might face stress. I know it can be hard to look at a scared rabbit, but the fact of the matter is that if you can't stand to let them feel stress, you probably can't handle anything except the easiest bonding.

Stress bonding is a tool, but it is the best tool I've ever heard of for bonding aggressive rabbits. Don't think of it so much as scaring him out of his wits--think of it as teaching him to seek comfort in her when he needs it, because that's what you are doing when you stress bond.

Stress bonding doesn't have to be long, either. When I was bonding Tank to my other two rabbits, the males would get aggressive sometimes, so I would put them in a laundry basket together and shake them up for maybe 30 seconds or so, then return them. They were laid back, that might not be quite enough for you in the beginning--but play it by ear.

But it's good that you're taking a break first. That will give you time to make a plan of action. When you start again, I'd start something else--what you were doing before wasn't working, as you already know. Are they pretty small rabbits?

Short sessions are often recommended for aggressive rabbits. To begin, maybe try putting them in the bathroom, keeping the strainer between them the whole time, for no more than 10 minutes. Wear garden gloves in case your male finds his way around the strainer.

Another technique is to take both rabbits and hold them (wear a coat and gloves so they can't hurt you) and just pet them both for a while, keeping them distracted. Obviously, that won't work if both rabbits are huge lol.

Your husband doesn't seem like he wants to go driving, but there are other ways he can help too. if you can't hold both rabbits, or they are STILL aggressive even when you are holding them both, he could hold the other.

Here's a link, if you haven't read, that you should because I think it really hits home some of the mistakes that bonders can make (and we ALL have made mistakes) http://www.rabbit.org/journal/4-4/tough-bonding.html

This isn't going to be an easy bond, reflect on that while you take your break and let the rabbits and yourself distress. No matter what happens, be gentle with yourself. I am of the opinion that any two rabbits can be bonded, but if it doesn't work out for you, it's not your fault. Sometimes it's impossible to know what will work, and like blueeyes said, sometimes we find ourself worrying that it's not fair to the rabbits. That's all okay. I think the biggest mistakes that bonders can make are 1) falling into this trap of thinking that rabbits are more delicate than they actually are [they are a little] and 2) getting down on ourselves because it's not going well.
 
Last edited:

zombiesue

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 9, 2013
Messages
391
Reaction score
95
Location
Des Moines, IA
The owner of that blog that Imbrium posted actually has 6 rabbits now, all bonded, and that's a good resource, although I think once you pass 3 rabbits, bonding becomes drastically different than bonding a pair, she's a fantastic resource and that's a good blog to read.
 

Sindri27

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2013
Messages
122
Reaction score
18
Location
NULL
First off I do have the link that was posted to me it is on my favorites list. I read it just the other day. I do thank everyone for their advice. I love how she has bonded her rabbits and have gotten some of my ideas from her site.

I am taking a break again this will be my second big break. This time I think instead of 3 weeks I will take off for 2 months. I guess I will go back to short bonding sessions.

I think I was asked if my rabbits were small, yes they both are small rabbits. Also husband doesn't want to help with bonding anymore so I am on my own in that department. I thank you for the suggestions of him helping with holding them.

I am not afraid of hurting my rabbits. I often have heard you could hurt them by doing this or that but even though mine are small they aren't as fragile as I have heard. My main thing with Usagi is that I don't like how this has changed our relationship. He use to love running up to me and just sitting next to me for lots of pets and he no longer behaves that way towards me. It has gotten a bit better and soon it will be back to normal I am sure. I just felt that if I kept going it would just get worse.

My last concern I had was Kilala and her not interacting with Usagi. I wonder how this can be changed? I wonder if the break will change her response as well? When I start bonding again if after a few sessions I am back to the same type of attack/ fear circle type of situation I may just call off the bonding and keep them separately as I have. I love them both and I knew going into this they may not bond so Kilala does have her own space. I was just hoping for a bonded pair. hehe
 

Troller

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 8, 2012
Messages
971
Reaction score
148
Location
NYC, New York, USA
Hi, just wanted to put my add in though I can't offer any new insight other then positive thoughts. Like you before i bonded I had spent a lot of time studying bonding. Just to give some perspective I spent literally a year studying rabbit care taking before I decided to get one as a pet. So I'm a careful planner and considerate, so I spent a few months reflecting on bonding before I got a second rabbit. So I understand it when you say you've looked through all the info. I did too, so I know why you ask for no new links when all you see is stuff you've already found.


I wouldnt say mine were a difficult bond though people have said it about my two. All in all it took about 5 months with a one month stop included. Originally my two wouldn't be aggressive to each other but they weren't all that friendly either. As it went along I realized with mines that it would be either ignoring each other or outright scuffles. At one point my buck got injured (luckily not too badly). I even went to my local Rabbit Society to ask for help. They sort of made the situation a little worse and ended up telling me that it would probably never work because the Buns were not allowed to choose each other. I was highly discouraged and almost quit.


Now here's the thing that worked for me, but its highly personalized. One, My interactions with the Rabbits lead me to believe they didnt hate each other so it will eventually work. Two, I'm stubborn, and in a way you have to be even more stubborn then the two block heads your dealing with. Three, use all the information you've learned but you must (and it does sound like your doing it) personalize your approach by your rabbits attitudes and your own gut feeling. In my case my gut told me my increasing date time was the wrong way to go and I should have stuck them together until they bonded. That bathtub stress doesnt work but car stress does. A lot of other little things I learned with my two that I might have read before but not all of it pertained to my situation.


My only advice is be ready to love and raise two separate rabbits and but equally dont give up. I know thats contradictory, but I almost gave up, was very nearly there and mentally I accepted raising separate rabbit. However I got inspired (by wheekwheek rabbit actually) and felt if that many can be bonded, and even worse pairs put together, then I can do this. I did, it happened and all is good now but it took work. Setbacks occurred, an injury, but these rabbits are happy now and enjoy each others company and i enjoy having them.


For your benefit I ask, what are the positives you see? Are there signs you feel that these two will work out? Focus on those because if they exist then its only a matter of time and limiting the negatives. You'll find your breakthrough, for me it was two car rides a day and a marathon date. Cant wait to hear yours.
 

zombiesue

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 9, 2013
Messages
391
Reaction score
95
Location
Des Moines, IA
I am not afraid of hurting my rabbits. I often have heard you could hurt them by doing this or that but even though mine are small they aren't as fragile as I have heard. My main thing with Usagi is that I don't like how this has changed our relationship. He use to love running up to me and just sitting next to me for lots of pets and he no longer behaves that way towards me. It has gotten a bit better and soon it will be back to normal I am sure. I just felt that if I kept going it would just get worse.
Okay, that's fine, if you're not comfortable with something you shouldn't do it. But you might not have as much success if you read and read and read and then aren't able to carry out the techniques.

My last concern I had was Kilala and her not interacting with Usagi. I wonder how this can be changed? I wonder if the break will change her response as well? When I start bonding again if after a few sessions I am back to the same type of attack/ fear circle type of situation I may just call off the bonding and keep them separately as I have. I love them both and I knew going into this they may not bond so Kilala does have her own space. I was just hoping for a bonded pair. hehe
Wait, is she not interacting or are they fighting?

Ignoring one another is actually a good sign.
 

Vosify

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 30, 2012
Messages
79
Reaction score
9
Location
Estevan, Saskatchewan, Canada
Only thing I can think to try that I used to bond my rats. Yes different animal but they are huge on smell and grooming.

After trying everything to bond them, what finally got them to actually bond was not through neutral grounds, switching bedding and toys for smell. Or stress bonding.

All the scuffles slowed and dwindled once I used a dab of mint extract on the base of the tail and head.... Suddenly they smelled the same and all was good. Also the younger girl still would not interact with my older lady. That all changed with a dab of honey on the each of the ratties heads. Suddenly grooming started and they bonded well after they began grooming each other.

Iv never tried it with rabbits but in theory it might help? Also instead of mint vanilla extract can work. Anything strong to block smell.

Iv used this method with horses. 1 trailer that fits only 2 horses. I had a young stud and young mare that needed moving at the same time. Vicks rubbed around both their noses jammed the sense of smell enough they didn't even make a fuss.

Sorry if this doesn't help :( my rabbits bonded instantly... So I don't have any other experiences.
 

Sindri27

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2013
Messages
122
Reaction score
18
Location
NULL
Thanks guys for all the advice thus far.
ZombieSue Kilala doesn't get chance to even try to interact with Usagi because he attack right away she never fights back. She tries to run away and of course the areas I have bonded in are small so she cant get away. I break the fights up then she sits frozen until she feels she can move. That's when Usagi starts to attack again. I feel stuck because it goes in a circle of Usagi attacking as soon as they are put together. She tries to run then sits frozen and then moves and then gets attacked again. Its always like that it drives me crazy.
This is why I thought I should take the break maybe it would help. I decided though I am going to give it another go before I take that break. I am curious to see if I can get it to go differently. I haven't used a water bottle to break up fights I have used other things. I read that using water will cause the rabbits to have to groom themselves so maybe this would be good to use.
Thanks Troller for what you wrote it sounds a lot like I have been thinking. This is a tricky situation a lot trickier than I thought it would be. I don't want to give up on bonding all together yet. I plan to get these 2 bonded even if I have to take that break. Usagi needs to stop being a turd. hehe
Vosify I have seen someone's video where they used scent on the rabbits before bonding. I will keep that in mind. Thanks for writing that because it made me remember.
Thanks again everyone. I will give it one last try before I take the break.
 

Latest posts

Top