My Netherland Dwarf bunny refuses to let me pick her up

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BbyCaittxx

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Just a few days ago, I bought myself a 2 & a half month old netherland dwarf (female). She was held for a few hours the first day while taking her home and setting up her cage.. as well as by her original owners quite often.
Ever since we placed her in her cage, she has refused to let us pet or pick her up. We were advised to give her a few days before handling her again as it's a stressful time for her, but I'm wondering if there is anything I could do to help her trust me? She runs off as soon as I get close to her cage and I can't really get her out of her cage to let her walk around.
Help would be appreciated!
 

BunBuns

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Rabbits are prey animals and therefore don't like being picked up or held, as being held makes them feel like they are being hauled off by a predator. I personally avoid picking up my bunnies unless absolutely necessary as they hate it and get quite stressed. It will take time to earn the trust of your bunny but it is 100% worth it in the end. A good way to earn trust is to lay down in a space with them, reading a book or something and letting them climb over you, sniff you, or ignore you, depending on how trusting they are. You need to make no quick movements and ignore them. You need to show her that you are not a threat, by staying still and calm in her presence. Another good trust-building exercise is hand-feeding pellets, most rabbit love pellets and she will come to associate you with treats. Until she is warming up to you try not to handle or pet her too much as it will stress her out. Is there any way you could attach a pen or something to her cage so she could have a run around without moving her? Good luck!
 

BbyCaittxx

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Rabbits are prey animals and therefore don't like being picked up or held, as being held makes them feel like they are being hauled off by a predator. I personally avoid picking up my bunnies unless absolutely necessary as they hate it and get quite stressed. It will take time to earn the trust of your bunny but it is 100% worth it in the end. A good way to earn trust is to lay down in a space with them, reading a book or something and letting them climb over you, sniff you, or ignore you, depending on how trusting they are. You need to make no quick movements and ignore them. You need to show her that you are not a threat, by staying still and calm in her presence. Another good trust-building exercise is hand-feeding pellets, most rabbit love pellets and she will come to associate you with treats. Until she is warming up to you try not to handle or pet her too much as it will stress her out. Is there any way you could attach a pen or something to her cage so she could have a run around without moving her? Good luck!
I see, thank you for the information! I can definitely attempt to lie down next to her cage, though attaching a pen might not be possible due to the lack of space in the area I had put her cage in. I had thought maybe I could carry her to a space where she could run around and where I can feed her treats, but I can't do that when i'm unable to pick her up haha.
 

BunBuns

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When carrying my bunnies far distances I put them in a carrier as there is no chance of them squirming and injuring themselves but I'm not sure if it's less stressful for them. I hope everything works out okay and your bunny warms up to you soon!
 

Lucas the Bun 💕🐇

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Completely agree but there but if you ever need to putting them in a ’’C” shape helps
and putting my face up against my rabbit tends to help a lot 😊
 

Hermelin

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When you have earned your bunny trust you can start training to be picked up and handled. It will be safer for your bunny to at least tolerate short times to be handled. Specially when meeting the vet and not be wrapped up into a burrito.

You train the bunny by positive reinforcement, but it will have to be at another time. She’s still young and netherland dwarf is a wonderful breed. Myself have one and he’s exactly like my first netherland dwarf but a little more energy and can struggle a little more when trimming the nails. Otherwise he’s easy to handle after a bit of training, he also didn’t allow being picked up as a kit but you can always try a little training to see if your bunny learn to tolerate but that’s after earning her trust. My netherland dwarf can easily be picked up now, so it’s always worth trying to train it safely at home. Many try to force it and do it fast but you should do it slowly and with your bunnies own tempo.

So spend a lot of time near her and let her explore you.

Here’s a few video about bonding:

A picture of my boy, in the picture he’s giving kisses while only resting in the arms. I’m not holding him how I pick him up, my arms are resting on a table. So I just hold him so he’s not standing on the dinner table.
A0E5201D-BCA5-416F-A805-D2188A40AFD1.jpeg
 
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HalaBuns

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When carrying my bunnies far distances I put them in a carrier as there is no chance of them squirming and injuring themselves but I'm not sure if it's less stressful for them. I hope everything works out okay and your bunny warms up to you soon!
I do this too (although since I moved house I’m having to train one of them to trust the carrier again. Sigh haha)
 

HalaBuns

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I think her letting you pet her (and her enjoying it) might be your first goal. If you can’t touch her, you won’t be able to pick her up either.

Mine love being stroked but hate being picked up. I stopped trying to train them for a few weeks because we moved house and they’ve been stressed, but over the last couple of days I’ve been working with them by sitting on the floor stroking them, then lifting just their front paws a little off the ground and leaning over and kissing their head at the same time. Only once they seem relaxed with that will I try scooping up their rear and will probably then just move them to my lap so they can jump off if they want to. I’ll take it as slow as they need me to.

I agree that it’s a good idea to have them used to being picked up for when it is actually necessary.

Hand feeding pellets or other treats worked really well for bonding with my buns, I do it with them every day.

I hope she warms up to you soon 🥰
 

Blue eyes

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I had thought maybe I could carry her to a space where she could run around and where I can feed her treats, but I can't do that when i'm unable to pick her up haha.
You may then need to reconsider where you have her cage. Her exercise area needs to be where she still has access back to her cage. The cage is their safe place, their comfort zone. They should always have the option to retreat to their cage whenever they desire. This is especially important during her "exercise time."

An exercise pen can be used in all sorts of configurations. A pen should be placed around the front portion of her cage and then the cage door left open. She should get her exercise by coming out when (and if) she feels ready.

Two other considerations: one is that her cage should be the place where she is never forced out of. Reaching in her cage to get her out will deprive her of any "place of safety." It will make you the "bad guy" for doing so. Once she begins to come out of the cage on her own and once she then starts learning to trust you, in time you can work on picking her up. But she should not be picked up out of the cage itself. {cage cleaning should be done when she is outside of the cage in her exercise area}

The second consideration is to be aware that over the next few weeks, her hormones may be kicking in. With some rabbits, that means a change in behavior. During this time she may be more difficult to litter train, be grumpy or possibly aggressive. Don't be bothered by these changes, just know that hormones are the cause. Spaying her will rid her of those pesky hormones and allow her to be her sweet self again.

The following section of my website goes into detail with bonding with your bunny:
 

Niomi

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I have taken rabbits to senior homes for years. I teach my rabbits to get into a cat bed. Once in the bed, I can pick up the rabbit, bed and all. With something under them, rabbits feel more secure, and I don't have problems with them. The bed keeps fur from getting on clothing and also keeps people from getting scratched. I have used my Netherland Dwarf for therapy. I found an adjustable cat bed at PetSmart that I can adjust to his small size. My rabbits were already bonded to me before picking them up, which I think is an important step.
 
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