Over a Year in our House, but Still Refuses Petting/Grooming

Discussion in 'Nutrition and Behavior' started by bjlibby, Dec 7, 2019.

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  1. Dec 7, 2019 #1

    bjlibby

    bjlibby

    bjlibby

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    I adopted Frost from the Humane Society over a year and a half ago. She was there because her previous owner (who had her for the first year of her life) was an animal hoarder. I believe that she was neglected. She was used, the day of adoption, for a Bunny Basics training class, where she was placed on a table and every person (about 12 people) around the table was taught how to pick up a rabbit using her. She was terrified the whole time.

    Naturally, when she got to her new forever home with us, she was still terrified, and being in a new territory was even scarier than what she had just gone through. Her cage is 4 feet by 4 feet, she has a litterbox, a hidey hut, and a dish each for water, pellets, and greens. She stayed in her cage for a few days, while we had left the door to the cage wide open. Eventually she began to warm up to us a bit.

    Fast forward to now, a bit is all I ever got. She is comfortable in my home, I know this. She loves my cat, Frisky, because he is very gentle with her and does not chase her (but she chases him sometimes, it's really cute to watch). She binkies at least once a day, grooms herself wherever, and has lots of different favorite hiding spots in the house for when she doesn't want to be completely visible. (Under the dining table, under the coffee table, under the desk, etc.) We let her out for around 8-10 hours every day.

    I know she is comfortable with me, as well, because she comes to her name (in hopes of treats) and will even run between my legs, or nibble on my pants while I'm standing. However, when I go to pet her, she immediately darts to a hiding spot.

    I never try to force it. I have tried sitting with her for hours on end, not reaching, just doing something near her. She usually checks me out a little bit, but doesn't show very much interest.

    Additionally, she is a longhaired Angora-Lionhead Albino and requires lots of grooming. The problem is, she HATES brushes. I can't touch her with my hand, I can't touch her with an object, it is excruciating.

    I end up having to force a trim every few months because her hair and nails get SO long and SO bad. I have never knicked her, not even an accidental nail trim incident! I feel like I'm abusing her when I do this. She gets so scared. But, when I don't groom her, I feel like I'm neglecting her. because, again, she grows out so fast.

    Please help me.

    What can I do to help my relationship with her?

    I want to pet her!!!! I want to pet her so bad!!! But it is never reciprocated, so I leave her be and just hang out around her.

    Additionally, I need a way to groom her without striking fear into her poor angel baby heart.
     
  2. Dec 7, 2019 #2

    JBun

    JBun

    JBun

    Jenny - Health & Wellness Mod Staff Member Administrator Moderator

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    The way to form closer bonds with rabbits is by spending time in close proximity to them. So you would need to do this in a smaller area like a bathroom or xpen. With the rabbit always having to be within a few feet of you, it gives them the chance to focus mostly on you and working out those relationship details, instead of being able to just hop away or be distracted by something. It's essentially using similar techniques that you would use for bonding two rabbits together.

    Also dealing with any possible past abuse making her scared of hands, will complicate things and mean it could take time to build the trust, but it can be done with a lot of patience, time, and care.

    With the grooming, have you tried a blower? I know a lot of people that raise angoras use a blower to keep the rabbits coat groomed and untangled.

    It sounds like you've done well with her other than the petting issue. She seems settled and happy with you.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2019

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