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Harness Training Tips?

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briemommy

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We've had the harness for a bit now. She grew out of it before we even tried it. Then we got the upgraded size... and guess what? It was a return, cause Brie climbed all over me to get to the harness to sniff it!

I'm thinking I would leave a pile of yummies and put it over her and try to sneak it under her belly. The neck part will be hard though. For those of you who walk your buns on lead, how did you train your bun to be okay with being on harness? Any tips to make it a bit easier for me?

Thanks!
 

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Jennifer
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I just picked them up, held them in one arm and used the other to get it around them, then sat them back down on the floor to snap it closed (granted, mine don't really struggle over being picked up/manhandled). they didn't like the harness when I first put it on, but got used to it quickly enough - I used it with them indoors at first and would just put it on them and leave it on for a couple minutes, gradually working up to 5-10 mins of having it on. when I finally used it on them outside with a leash, they were already used to it.
 

ldoerr

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I have not used a harness in years, but when I did I did a similar methd to Jennifer's. I would pick them up and put it on them while either holding them or having them on my grooming table. I would then set them down with the harness on and holding the leash tightly let them go exploring. At the time my rabbits were kept outside and rarely went inside (mom hated the smell of them).
 

Korr_and_Sophie

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I just put the harness on and let them get used to it. It can take a bit to get the harness adjusted right, but once it is then it is fine. Most rabbits seem ok with the harness, but it can depend on the harness as some are more bulky than others which can bother a rabbit.

As far as actually getting it on, adjust it so that harness should fit loosely on your rabbit, but not too loose that they could slip out or get a foot caught. Having your rabbit on a table or something can help so they don't run away from you. It start with the neck strap, then the body one. It can take some practice to get it on. Some rabbits I do put the harness on while holding them, but that can be more tricky until you figure out what you are doing.

If you can, don't use the leash right away. Let your rabbit get used to the harness in a safe area. The leash can add too much too soon, so until they are more comfortable with the harness don't use the leash. It might only take half an hour to get used to the harness and get it adjusted right, but it can take longer. Make sure the harness is adjusted right, your rabbit is used to it and they are ok with the leash before taking them outside.

I do typically put on the harness and then do something with my rabbits so they are not as focused on the harness. Since I use them for agility, I will start to train the rabbit on a jump when they are wearing the harness. I have found that if they are distracted by something, they focus less on the harness and aren't as bothered by wearing it.
 

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Jennifer
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I did that with my bunny when I was a little kid, lol. you don't walk the rabbit, though - it walks you. you just follow behind wherever it wants to go ;)

mine go in a big pen when they're outside... I set up their agility course in there and attempted to use the harness to guide them through it (so if they tried to go around an obstacle, they couldn't run too far and I could catch 'em to put them back in front of it), though I eventually quit using the harness because I noticed Nala took the jump better without it.
 

briemommy

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Oh man, Brie is definitely nowhere near as malleable as any of your rabbits. She finds being handled extremely disagreeable. I've never held her down or held her against her will before.

There are velcro straps on the harness as well as side release buckles. I envision an oncoming battle. :nerves1
 

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Jennifer
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an alternate way to get it on is to lay the harness out flat on the floor, scoop the bunny up, plop them down with their legs in the leg holes and pull the harness together to secure it before they figure out what's happening :p

my bunnies get held when mommy wants to hold them and they just accept it. if I need to clip nails or brush them or whatever, it's getting done, lol. bribes help a lot - mine will tolerate just about anything for a pomegranate-infused craisin.
 

Korr_and_Sophie

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There are velcro straps on the harness as well as side release buckles. I envision an oncoming battle. :nerves1
Are you using a vest harness? I don't find them to be really good for rabbits. They are hard to put on and get them the right size. Most rabbits don't like you going under their chin or belly, so putting them on can be a challenge. The velcro tends to get clogged with fur and becomes useless after a while. The thicker straps also make them easier to chew. These harnesses tend to be more bulky and can make it harder for the rabbit to move around.

I use H style cat harnesses (you might find the made for rabbits too). They have buckles on the top, so you just have the get the strap around and can do it up at the top. Once they are adjusted, you don't have to fiddle with it each time unless you rabbit grows.
 

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Jennifer
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only one I have is this one, which is hardly helpful since it's head-on and you can barely see the harness, lol:


my harness is from walmart, though - cheaper than pet stores anyway :p
 

ldoerr

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I would look in the dog or cat sections for a harness. You can generally find at most petstores H style harnesses for dogs and cats. It will be where the collars and leashes are.

Jennifer- I have that harness (in blue) for my kitten. My mom took it off of him and hid it though.
 

BinkyBunny

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Would it be better to put them in an X-pen outside rather than a harness or does a harness have more benefit?
 

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Jennifer
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personally, I prefer the pen (actually, I've got four hooked together to make a HUGE one, lol) - they can run and binky a little more freely and I can sit there and watch instead of having to follow behind everywhere they go. plus, no worries about leashes getting tangled, they can run through their tunnel and I don't have to worry about two bunnies pulling me in opposite directions :p
 

Korr_and_Sophie

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I think an x-pen would be better for exercise as the rabbit can run around freely. A harness and leash can be used if you don't have the space for a pen or if you are taking your rabbit somewhere like a pet store and want some more security.
I use a harness for agility as it gives the handler something to hold onto and grab if needed (instead of grabbing the rabbit in a bad spot). On occasion a leash may be needed and you do need something to clip the leash to.
 

briemommy

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Eventually we will be in a house where Brie will have her own covered section of the garden- complete with edible grasses and veggies! But right now we live in a studio with nowhere I can take her to run around freely. She has full run of the studio and her condo is a 2 x 2 x 10 NIC. She has plenty of room but I want to enrich her life. Take her to my parents' and such. Most importantly I want to be able to take her to the vet and the House Rabbit Society for lessons and to meet her potential brother. Oh, and agility. Given that she hates being handled so far, I need to have her take to a harness and leash. Those are my reasons for getting her on a harness anyway.

(\\kir5bcv <-- By the way, Brie says that. Whatever it means. I think it's in disdain regarding the handling.)
 

cassnessxox

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Cleo doesn't mind the harness, we have taken her to the park in it (though we carry her TO the park then put her down so she can run around) she runs really fast in it so it keeps you fit running after her!! Bambi is probably big enough to have a go in it to, if he doesn't mind it we will get him one and take them together...with the boyfriends help because I can't imagine one rabbit leash in each hand when they go in opposite directions...

Cleo Walk.jpg
 

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