How best to transition a bunny from pen to full-time house bunny

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Devi

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I have a Netherland dwarf bunny named Low Toner, he's neutered fully healed it's been over a month since his surgery, he'll be a year old in February sometime. And even before that since I brought him home and first let him run around the house he will rattle the door of his 16sq foot pen to come out. that's fine he gets let out he's happy as a clam hopping and zooming around, napping, etc. only going back in to eat and use the litterbox.

So right now he comes out first thing in the morning spends all day free in the house and I have been using this time to learn where he likes to go and bunny proof based on his behavior and actions. So besides a few cord nibbling (which was promptly handled with cord protectors) and him rubbing his chin on everything below the one-foot mark particularly the husbands' shoes (lol), there have been no problems. But when it's time for him to go back in at night he's sulky and miserable in his pen and sits at the door and rattles it. This tells me he wants to be a full-time house bunny because that's what makes him the happiest.

And this is where the uncertainty comes in. I say let him be a free-run bunny and just ditch the pen fully, but my husband pointed out he will still need a space that is still his, that's safe to run to so we should keep the pen. So how has everyone else done their house bunnies?

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Moonshadow

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We let our bunny (also a netherland dwarf) free-roam in our showroom (the biggest room in our building). Within it we keep a home base which is a large dog kennel we retrofitted for him and leave the door wide for him to come and go as he pleases. He has food and hay in there, and he does his business in there too.
 

Diane R

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You are doing well! They don't need a pen. Just a couple of litter trays and a few hiding places with at least two exits. You don't want him biting on the pen, that can cause dental problems.
 

Devi

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You are doing well! They don't need a pen. Just a couple of litter trays and a few hiding places with at least two exits. You don't want him biting on the pen, that can cause dental problems.
As it stands if he feels bothered he just high tails it under the couch which has 3 exits and thumps at us, so he has hiding places. when he discovered the space under the couch he spent a few days nudging everything from under it clearly making it his space, and the entrances are so small it makes the perfect little warren for him.
 

samoth

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I began by opening up the xpen to the room, then opening up the room to the floor, then opening up the entire house.

My buck did just fine with almost no transition. However, my doe was stuck at the floor-level for around 9 months while I worked with her to get her to not chomp carpet.

The buck claimed underneath my bed as his safe space, but the doe doesn't really have one specific space, though she spends a lot of time under the kitchen table. I have various hiding areas for them throughout the house (small couch in their protected/rugged bedroom, Ikea Hols, Cottontail Cottage, willow tents, etc.) so they always have somewhere to hide if they feel the need. I do block off the living room couch & loveseat, though, since there's no way to give them access that won't cause considerable destruction.

As you gradually open up space to your rabbit, let him choose where his home base will be -- I find that rabbits are tenacious in wanting to decide for themselves where their bathroom(s) and home base/secure hiding area(s) will be. If I try to close my bedroom door or block it with an xpen, my buck will become very distraught and dig/chew/whatever to try to get back in, even if he doesn't want in -- he just wants it open & available at all times :)
 

Diane R

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As it stands if he feels bothered he just high tails it under the couch which has 3 exits and thumps at us, so he has hiding places. when he discovered the space under the couch he spent a few days nudging everything from under it clearly making it his space, and the entrances are so small it makes the perfect little warren for him.
That's good but make sure he doesn't start eating the underside of the couch. I had to block it off for that reason.
 

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