Harness Training

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DonnyMommy

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Hello! I have noticed whenever I look up other flemish giant rabbits online that they sometimes are shown wearing a harness and being walked on a leash.

Anyone have any concerns with this idea? I like it because this will CERTAINLY come in handy for keeping him under better control when I take him to the vet.

I just want to know if there are any concerns experienced any other rabbit owners might have.

I understand this being a rabbit that a LOT more patience has to be put into training him to walk on a harness... but it beats chasing him when he is trying to run away from the vet and what not.
 

Watermelons

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Hopefully at the vets he is being brought there in a kennel of sorts. Having a harness on an animal while their trying to have a physical exam done, can make things a bit harder when something is obstructing the vets hands. Then when out a hand should be on him at all times or he should be wrapped in a towel.
http://www.rabbitsonline.net/showthread.php?t=84899&highlight=harness
H style harnesses are quite common and often used in rabbits.
 

woahlookitsme

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I had a harness for my French lop. He even sat outside with us at panera while we ate. Pretty funny to see all the people give us strange looks
 

Liung

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The way you've worded your post makes me think that something should be clarified. Here's the thing a lot of people don't really realize at first: you can't train a rabbit to walk on a leash. Not the way "trained to walk on a leash" means for dogs, or pigs, or horses.

A rabbit can be trained to accept wearing a harness (read: wait for them to get used to it) and they can be trained to deal with having a leash attached to them (read: they eventually figure out how to duck under it rather than get tangled every time), but a leash on a rabbit is purely so you have a way to make them stop when you need to. Don't hold any hopes for a rabbit that hops along sedately next to you down the street. Even in rabbit jumping shows, the owner places the rabbit in front of a jump, and the rabbit has been trained to jump something in front of them. They aren't following a leash. After almost a decade, mine has learned to grudgingly go in the direction a leash is pulling, but he doesn't "walk on a leash" by any means.

So yes, a leash would be helpful in preventing any escape attempts. Whenever I bring my bunnies out in public, I make sure they are wearing their harnesses, with their ID tags attached, so if they make a break for it there's a small chance someone can find them and call me. And if they're out in public and not inside a carrier (I have a bag Delilah likes to travel in so she can poke her head out, and sometimes they travel in a stroller), they're also wearing leashes that are attached to whatever they're travelling in. They're pretty cautious with heights and have never tried to jump out of something they were travelling in, but it never hurts to have a safety net.

But that's all it is. I can put them down to explore a new place, with the leash to prevent them from going anywhere they shouldn't, but I cannot use the leash to get them to follow me. I have to use the leash to stop them running away, pick them up, and carry them wherever I need them to go.

Just thought it was important to clarify that. You don't really "walk" a rabbit. Really, the rabbit walks you, and you are just along for the ride to prevent any potential disasters.
 

MissyAndMoonlight

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I have harnesses for my 2 rabbits (I bought cat harnesses- they fit mine best), and training them to wear it is really easy. I just slipped it onto them, and distracted them with food, toys, Guinea pigs, or had them run freely in a closed of space in our yard (wearing the harness, of corse). This taught them that the harness meant fun. Also part of the training process, I put the harness on them whenever they were out of their cage. They now learned to sit still when the harness is being put on them, and don't mess with it at all anymore. That is another thing that your rabbit will do- bite at the harness. This is normal behavior, since they aren't used to this new thing on them, and should be expected. Sooner or later, your rabbit will be harnessed trained!

Another thing to expect is that you physically cannot train a rabbit to walk on a leash like a dog. Mine are sort of walk trained, but they run in short bursts of speed and then stop to eat (this is when I am walking on a sidewalk). However, when I have them on walks in the woods with me, they will continuously walk/run, but not where I need them to go. Of corse, this is just my rabbits, but I have heard from many people that their rabbits exhibit the same behavior. You can try to walk train them like a dog, and if u succeed, let me know! I would love to know how u did it!

Keep in mind, that whenever taking your rabbit places, you are going to want to not only have a harness, but a proper leash. When going places that may have a lot of other animals, make sure to put your rabbit in a crate (I use a cat carrier) or a secure box. This simply makes your rabbit feel safe. When going to the vet, do the same thing, but u might not want to put your rabbit in his/her harness for vet visits, just to make it easier on everyone- u, the vet, vet techs, ect.
 

MissyAndMoonlight

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However, when I take mine to the vet, I do keep their harnesses on in the crate, and then take them off when the vet arrives. They go on and off very easily. This does allow more control, and this way I can let them out of the crate before the vet gets to me, without having to chase them down. I know my vet allows this, but I have no idea about yours- it's just a thought.
 

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