How much handling to I force on my baby rabbit?

Discussion in 'Health & Wellness' started by Butterscotch, Jun 20, 2019.

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  1. Jun 20, 2019 #1

    Butterscotch

    Butterscotch

    Butterscotch

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    My buck is 12 weeks old and he absolutely hates being handled. I don't think his breeder socialized him very much. He has his first vet appointment in 2 weeks and I don't want the trip to the vet to be extremely stressful for him. Additionally, I need to be able to trim his nails, check his teeth, etc. I sit on the floor with him daily and he comes up to me and bonks me with his head but he usually hops away when I try to touch him. Do I pick him up anyway, while sitting on the floor with him? Put him in my lap and try to help him feel safe there? He's too young to bribe with treats. We still have 2 weeks to work on socializing but I haven't make much progress in the month that I've had him. He's just a very independent little guy! How much handling to I insist upon before this upcoming appointment?

    Thank you for any thoughts or suggestions!
     
  2. Jun 20, 2019 #2

    Butterscotch

    Butterscotch

    Butterscotch

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    I'd like to add that I'm not in a hurry to socialize him, we have our whole lives ahead of us for that. I just want to reduce his stress at the vet and hopefully get him comfortable enough with being handled so that his exam is thorough and effective.
     
  3. Jun 20, 2019 #3

    Hermelin

    Hermelin

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    You can use pellets as treats, myself when socializing with my bunnies. I start with just letting them get used with me and learn their boundaries + signals .

    Often I push them a bit far, I end up getting bitten. But that just help me to learn how far they tolerate and how far they will allow anyone to interact with them.

    I rather be the only one to get bitten then anyone in my family or strangers. Maybe that’s why I’m at least been bitten once by all my bunnies, during their life. Not something I recommend to do. It’s just that I often have small kids that handle my bunnies, so I truly need to know how much they can tolerate or what can make them bite. For example one will bite because he get overexcited when given treats while one will bite because he can feel cornered.

    But with kits it help a lot to just spend many hours with your bunny. At least me being a lazy potato often let my bunnies be up in the bed while I’m reading a book.

    So they can jump up on me and explore everything. So they get used with me while I’m at their level. I often when they are kit teach them to get used with being picked up and handled, but they will always get treats to munch on.

    So you can push a little on his boundaries but this should only be short times, just a few seconds and let him get use. Slowly building up to how much he can tolerate, but it help a lot with treats ( pellets or cuddles).

    If I was you I would start with trying to pet him and not force to take him, see if he will react to pellets as treats. Often my bunnies will ignore the pellets in their bowls and beg for me to give them a treat instead. They don’t care that I’m giving them the same pellets that are in the bowl :)

    Also every time picking your bunny up, make sure to give a positive reinforcement, already from the start.

    Last time I was at the vet, my indoor bunny jumped up in the veterinarian arms. When the vet tried to put him back on the table he jumped up again.

    Snuggling up and giving kisses (acting all cute to get what he wants), because he hate going to the veterinarian and standing on the table.
     
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  4. Jun 20, 2019 #4

    Poopy Poo

    Poopy Poo

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    It can be also from his parents, not his own experience. Anyway, some people say you don't have to pick him up before he wants it himself but I had quite good experience picking up gently and grooming like brushing and trimming nails but do brushing slowly and like 20-30 minutes, talk to him and if he doesn't want to stay still explain that this is necessary and usually they will like it by the end of this time and if you can do it regularly they will like it more and more. If you feel unsure about nails just leave it for later but brushing likes my every rabbit even Smokey who is extremely defensive, I just must clip her nails once a month so I must pick her up and do it, she'd fight a lot at the beginning but then would calm down and more relaxed after brushing.

    Also you can not only sit but lay down so you'll be on his level this way.
     
  5. Jun 21, 2019 #5

    Blue eyes

    Blue eyes

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    He also may be getting hormonal. Rabbits tend to chill once neutered (or adult). I would not be forcing picking him up. Let him learn to trust you bit by bit. Let him approach you. Don't try to force things just for the vet appointment as it may backfire. In fact, too much forcing may just teach him to not trust you.
    http://www.bio.miami.edu/hare/shybun.html
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2019
  6. Jun 22, 2019 #6

    Butterscotch

    Butterscotch

    Butterscotch

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    This is great advice, thank you all! I have started hand feeding him pellets and oat hay flowers (?) in moderation while talking to him and letting him approach me. I think since this is just a wellness exam to be able to check him out and proceed with his neuter appointment in late August there really isn't a need to force him to accept handling at this time. He appears to be a completely healthy bun, we'll just take our time getting to know each other. Just today he let me caress his ears and gently roll his fur between my fingertips like I was grooming him. I got maybe a full minute of bunny love before he hopped away! That's very exciting!!
     
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  7. Jun 22, 2019 #7

    Butterscotch

    Butterscotch

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    Thank you for that link Blue eyes! What a beautifully written article.
     
  8. Jun 23, 2019 #8

    Orrin

    Orrin

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    Be sure to learn the proper technique for picking up your rabbit. (I still don't quite "get it. :) ) When I take our buns to the vet I bribe them to get them to jump into the carrier. At the vet's office the assistant--who is a long-time bunny person--takes over. She handles our rabbits and they don't mind one bit. They don't kick or protest in any way.

    I love my rabbits and they love me; but, they love the vet's assistant even more. ;)
     

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