Rabbit Harness- good idea or not

Discussion in 'Rabbit Knowledge Library' started by Alliefan, Sep 13, 2019 at 1:25 PM.

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  1. Sep 13, 2019 at 1:25 PM #1

    Alliefan

    Alliefan

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    My Flemish Giant is 7 months old. I keep toying with the idea of getting a harness so we can take walks on the back deck and yard. I read positive and negation feedback on that idea. Thoughts? I am a first time rabbit owner.

    Also, I've been unable to find a harness her size online. Ideas??
     
  2. Sep 13, 2019 at 2:15 PM #2

    Theo

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    I think it is a great idea! When I leashed trained my rabbit he did not like the harness and chewed on it. I would spray him with a spray bottle to get him to stop, and now he loves going for walks.
    Just make sure that when you take her for the walk that you don't pull to hard on the leash because it could break her back. You also want a stretchy leash so that if she runs you don't hurt her by pulling. Also, don't think that you are taking her on the walk. She will walk you, and you are only there with the leash for keeping her out of trouble.
     
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  3. Sep 13, 2019 at 2:58 PM #3

    Hermelin

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    I wouldn’t take your bunny out on harness until, you have a safe way to transport your bunny but you can start with harness training and let her be in a run. For example picking or walking into a travel cage.

    Maybe you have some people that make their own harness and sell them. People that do bunny agility or jumping often have people that custom make harness. Also dog harness and cat harness I have seen people use to larger bunnies.

    Myself often put my bunnies on harness. Lilja often run loose instead of using her harness. She dosen’t run that fast and easy to pick up, dosen’t easily get scared and I can just walk next to her. All my bunnies harness are fitted to them and their sizes.
     
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  4. Sep 13, 2019 at 4:57 PM #4

    Jacaroe

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    I have been thinking the same thing. I picked up a harness on Amazon for less than $10 that came with an elastic leash. Cin isn't thrilled at ALL about the harness, and as of yet hasn't let us put it on him. He's not a cuddler and only tolerates being held, so it's been a challenge getting him into it. I'm resigned to the fact that it's going to have to be a gradual thing. We're familiarizing him slowly (like, we're on the third week of trying), but it's more important to us not to traumatize him than take him on a walk. I absolutely can not wait until we can take him on walks. I don't think he realizes how much fun he's missing out on! lol
     
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  5. Sep 13, 2019 at 5:41 PM #5

    Alliefan

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    Even the XL sizes I've found on Amazon are too small for my girl.
     
  6. Sep 13, 2019 at 7:11 PM #6

    Blue eyes

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    I will be the dissenter here and just point out some of the potential negatives of taking a rabbit "for a walk." The personality of the individual rabbit plays a major role on whether or not this should even be considered.

    Those who do agility with rabbits are the experts on what types of harnesses are safe (most types sold at stores are quite dangerous) and on how to properly fit them. A 'safe' harness that is not fitted properly can be just as dangerous. The very real dangers of an improper harness (or improperly fitted) are a broken neck or back.

    Assuming one has a rabbit willing to be harnessed, and assuming one has the proper harness, and assuming one has fitted it properly, the next question is where to take the rabbit. If you plan to use the harness to take him out in your own yard, fine. It is a place with which he can become familiar. It is also a place where you know that the grass is safe -- no fertilizer, no weed killer, no pesticides.

    If you plan to take him about the neighborhood or to a public park then you'll have other issues to deal with. The safety of the grass itself (as mentioned) is always a concern. You won't know what lawns have edible grass. These other grasses may also have ticks, fleas, or other parasites. In addition, there is the danger of your rabbit suddenly bolting at the sight of a dog, or kids, or a car, or a car's horn, or children screaming while playing, or people approaching, or an overhead shadow, or unfamiliar smells and sights. Any or all of these may seriously frighten certain rabbits. If they bolt in reaction, serious injury can be caused by the restraint. If they don't bolt, they still may become severely stressed.

    Many rabbits prefer familiarity but going to strange or new places is a stressful and frightening experience. Going on such outtings may be an unpleasant experience for a rabbit.

    Of course there are exceptions, and some outgoing rabbits seem fine with the unfamiliar. Some are naturally bold and fearless.

    There is always the option of using a pet stroller for those owners who desire to show off their rabbits in public (who doesn't?) ;) . I've used a pet stroller for my rabbits in the past.

    If the motive behind harnessing is simply to let bunny be outside in fresh air, then it is probably easier (and more enjoyable for the rabbit) to be in an exercise pen in your backyard. This method allows bunny to move freely without the constraints of a harness and leash. Of course, it is necessary for you to be outside with him to keep him safe (your presence will deter birds of prey). But he can move about within the pen and safe from access to any toxic bushes. He can also become used to the same surroundings making the backyard a more familiar (ie. less scary) place.

    If the motive is exercise, skip it. Aside from those doing official agility stuff, the bulk of harnessed rabbits don't happily hop down the sidewalk like a dog. They spend much of their time in one spot grazing, take a few hops, and graze again. It is more of a bore for you. Indoor rabbits get their best exercise when free roaming indoors where they feel safe. That's where you'll see their bunny 500s and binkies. They cannot run full speed while confined by a harness and they cannot binky too freely either. To do those fun dashes and speed runs, they need to be free of a harness and leash.

    So there's a list of some of potential downsides for consideration. I'm not saying it should not or cannot be done since clearly it can work fine for some people and some rabbits. It's just good to be aware of those downsides as well.
     
  7. Sep 13, 2019 at 8:40 PM #7

    Alliefan

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    Those are the things I've read. I have no interest in taking her out of the yard because of spooking her. I'm moving soon to a "mother-n-law" suite at my daughters. It's upstairs ... was just thinking of walking her downstairs to the patio for herbs kinda thing then into my daughters. Not having to carry her down the stairs and back up as she gets bigger. And yes ... she may be one of those that just doesn't enjoy it at all and so I wouldn't force her.

    I do want to try using a harness that is designed for her. So any ideas on where to find harnesses large enough for the Flemish Giants?
     
  8. Sep 13, 2019 at 10:50 PM #8
    Get a dog/cat one from a pet store.
    Rabbit specific ones are typically unsafe to use.
    You want the H style that has the strap that goes down the back and between the front legs.
    DO NOT get a harness that does not have that strap between the legs. This helps pull the necl strap down towards the chest and keeps it off the rabbits neck so if they pull or spook they wont hurt themselves.
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  9. Sep 13, 2019 at 11:03 PM #9

    Alliefan

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    Thank you for showing and explaining that. I'll let you know how it goes.
     
  10. Sep 13, 2019 at 11:13 PM #10

    Niomi

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    I have a rabbit that has been doing agility for a couple of years. The type of harness we use is a cat H-harness. They are hard to find, but you can buy them at (www.lupinepet.com). They are more expensive than what you would find in a pet store, but they are guaranteed, even if chewed. My rabbit destroyed one harness and I sent it in and they replaced it free of charge. They come in two sizes and the largest size is for a cat with a 12" to 20" girth. You can see a picture of the measurements on their site. If the cat harness is not big enough, then you can look for a dog harness that does not pull on the neck.

    I think Blue Eyes did a great job of explaining the down side of walking a rabbit on a leash. I do pet therapy and have one rabbit that I walk on a leash when I take him to visit at an assisted living facility. I walk him down the halls as he goes from room to room. Some rabbits walk on a leash better than others. It has a lot to do with personality.

    Walking a rabbit: the rabbit needs to walk in front. If they can't see all around them, they won't feel safe. To start out, say the name of your rabbit ( I will call her Sally) and give a command like "Sally go" or "Sally hop." If your rabbit doesn't move, reach down and tickle her hocks, or tail, or whatever works to get her moving. Give her the command "Sally stop" or "Sally sit" when you want her to stop. If you want her to go left, say "Sally left" then step forward with your right foot so that your right leg is in her field of vision on her right side, and she will turn left. I'm sure you get the idea. In agility we practice one command at a time, so it takes 4 lessons to get the leash commands in.
     
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  11. Sep 13, 2019 at 11:44 PM #11

    Alliefan

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    Interesting. I googled agility training. Ashes is very smart but she's too spooky to venture out much with her. But a little would be nice. Taking your rabbit to assisted living is awesome. How nice. I'm new to this site but if I figure out how to, can I save you as a resource or follow you for training? Ashes gives me a high five with both paws on command for treats. She's very smart.
     
  12. Sep 13, 2019 at 11:55 PM #12

    Niomi

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    Yes, you can ask me anything. The H-harness I use is like the one Watermelons posted above. We must have been posting our replies at that same time, because the post wasn't there when I started typing my reply.
     
  13. Sep 14, 2019 at 3:32 PM #13

    Niomi

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    If you are on Facebook, a good group to follow is "Small Animal Resources." They feature some good videos on rabbit training and behavior.
     
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  14. Sep 14, 2019 at 3:52 PM #14

    Orrin

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    The idea of putting my rabbits on a leash never has appealed to me. Instead, I made a portable fence to enclose a part of our yard so that the rabbits can have their own pasture. They *might* run a bit when I first let them out and they may occasionally "do donuts" or binkies; but, for the most part they simply enjoy grazing and relaxing. Now, I'm convinced a harness and leash could not improve upon that, even if I could manage to get them to tolerate a harness. The outdoor enclosure is the best thing for us, no stress or problems, whatsoever.
     
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  15. Sep 14, 2019 at 4:14 PM #15

    Niomi

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    I think Blue Eyes made a really good case for not putting a rabbit on a leash, and anyone thinking about leash training their rabbit should read Blue Eye's post above. Walking a rabbit on a leash draws a lot of attention, but anyone who cares about their rabbit should resist the temptation and not put their rabbit at risk for harm. Their are few situations that leash training a rabbit would be a benefit.

    I think Alliefan has a good reason for wanting to be able to leash train her rabbit.
     
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  16. Sep 14, 2019 at 7:21 PM #16

    Alliefan

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    That is a great FB group. Thanks
     

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