My bunny doesn’t like to be touched?

Discussion in 'Nutrition and Behavior' started by Zoe Franchino, Mar 9, 2019.

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  1. Mar 9, 2019 #1

    Zoe Franchino

    Zoe Franchino

    Zoe Franchino

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    Hi everyone! I got my first bunny about a week ago, so I’m pretty new to this rabbit business. He’s a two year old Netherland Dwarf buck. I adopted him from a breeder (I was friends with the breeder, she passed away and her daughter is liquidating her bunny barn, and offered me a bunny. I know many don’t support breeders, but I wanted to clarify my situation.) He was raised by a show breeder, and so he was kept in a small square cage, and traveled to shows. Now that I have him home, I have him as a free roaming bunny in my room only. He’s very comfortable with me being around, as he’ll come up and smell me or won’t flinch when I go sit by him or walk past him. He’s also very happy! All he does is binky and run around and chew on all of his toys. He even comes when I whistle. However, I can’t touch him or pick him up, or he runs away. This is difficult because I’d like to get him to the vet to be fixed, and later in the year I’d like to show him in 4H. I was hoping since he’d been shown before he’d be a little more tolerant of it, but he wants nothing to do with being touched.

    Is there a way that you can train bunnies to enjoy being touched? I know that sounds silly, but I mostly work with horses and have gotten unhandled horses to the point where they pretty much beg for attention and being petted. However now that I’m in this boat with a bunny, I have no clue where to start. Any help is appreciated, thank you!

    Picture of my boy!
     

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  2. Mar 9, 2019 #2

    Popsicles

    Popsicles

    Popsicles

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    Hello,
    Firstly, I don’t know a huge amount about showing, but I think I’m right in saying you can’t show if you have them neutered? So might be worth looking into more.
    As for bonding together, a week is a very short time so I wouldn’t expect too much. It’s good that he is happy to come and sniff you - keep up with that, and just sitting on the floor so he can be around you and maybe with a treat in your lap to teach him that you are good news. Maybe try offering his pellets or greens while you are on the floor with him and try gently petting his head while he muches. Don’t go for picking him up yet - most rabbits don’t like to be picked up, and it will just take away from the bonding process if he thinks you touching him is a negative thing. Don’t start training him to tolerate being picked up until you have a solid bond with him and he isn’t scared to be touched by you. Some bunnies just don’t really liked being petted at all, and it might be the case that he never really likes to sit still and be touched - time will tell!
     
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  3. Mar 10, 2019 #3

    SableSteel

    SableSteel

    SableSteel

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    You can't show them in 4H or open shows if they're neutered.
     
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  4. Mar 10, 2019 #4

    JBun

    JBun

    JBun

    Jenny - Health & Wellness Mod Staff Member Administrator Moderator

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    I think he's enjoying his new found freedom and may think you will end his fun. In other words he associates hands with being picked up and put away. As well as what popsicles said.

    This link also has some tips on bonding with your bun.
    https://flashsplace.webs.com/bondingwithyourbunny.htm
     
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  5. Mar 10, 2019 #5

    Zoe Franchino

    Zoe Franchino

    Zoe Franchino

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    Good to know, thank you!
     
  6. Mar 10, 2019 #6

    Tinto

    Tinto

    Tinto

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    Hi, I have a Netherland Dwarf Buck too. I understand you. Maybe you could think about whether you don't have some smell on your hands (foods, perfume etc.). It seems good to wash one's hands before touching the bun, and let him first smell the hand before you touch him.
     
  7. Mar 12, 2019 #7

    Lauren Kiernan

    Lauren Kiernan

    Lauren Kiernan

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    He's adorable. Give him time to get to know you. Everything else you mentioned he does indicates a happy rabbit.
     
  8. Mar 12, 2019 #8

    Kinley

    Kinley

    Kinley

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    Keep doing what you’re doing, sitting in the cage and letting him sniff you. My rabbit, Sasha, was like this when I first got her. I just sat in her cage with her and when she was running around, and I also fed her treats and pellets out of my hand, to show her that hands meant a positive thing. She is still timid when being held, but she loves to cuddle with me now. Sometimes rabbits just like to know your their, and will let you pet them in their own time. And, like Jbun said above, he could associate hands with being stuck in a cage. Maybe try feeding him treats with your hands and just putting your hand next to him, to show him your not going to force him into a cage anymore. He looks adorable, and I bet he’ll be a great companion for you soon. Hope I helped!
     
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