Right actions if your rabbit bites/scratches you..

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Haru the Lionhead

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Hello guys, haru has been biting, scratching, lunging, and grunting more often now, she does it when I brush her, sometimes she lets me brush her and sometimes she gets mad I don’t understand why, I changed the brush that used to scare her and she’s not scared pf the new one and it’s not hurting her as well, because if when I brush her she would look at me to check if I’m holding the brush or not, she also does it when I’m training her to do tricks, she would get angry and wants to get the treats without doing anything, and sometimes she would get angry by herself, like if she was laying down and i was petting her, she would look like she’s enjoying it, then she would get mad..
My question is.. what is the right thing to do after she bites or scratches me? and how can I stop her from doing it
Every time she does it I would scream, not because I want to, but more like because I got surprised pr got hurt.
I don’t think that she’s scared of me because she always flops beside me or gets on top of me.. she just acts like she’s boss with everyone and I don’t know how to stop that
 

KingBunny

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Try wearing gloves. When she bites, don't react. Continue to stroke the back of her neck or wherever. At the moment she's getting the reaction she wants out if you which is to retreat.
 

Haru the Lionhead

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Try wearing gloves. When she bites, don't react. Continue to stroke the back of her neck or wherever. At the moment she's getting the reaction she wants out if you which is to retreat.
If i do what she wants, wouldn’t she think that i did it because she bit me and would bite more every time she wants something?
 

Blue eyes

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The way rabbits communicate is subtle. It seems from what you describe that it could be that she is being misunderstood. For example, if she uses her head to give your hand a nudge it may mean she wants you to stop petting her. If you don't stop, then she may resort to a lunge. Remember, a rabbit has no idea it is "scratching" you. It may "box" you with its paws which just happens to result in a scratch. (This is different than cats that know when they are scratching because they can retract their claws. Rabbits cannot do this.)

For most rabbits, it is very rare for them to resort to biting. Usually, they only bite after they have (in their eyes) given every warning they could (--using that rabbit body language). If this is what is happening, then the solution is to understand her body language and don't do what it is that is making her react. If she isn't in the mood to do tricks, then leave her alone. If she doesn't want to be brushed, wait til later.

It takes a practiced eye to understand a rabbit's body language. (I'll link resources on it below.)

Learning more about her way of communicating can help guide you in when and how to interact with her.

This isn't to say that some rabbits don't need to be shown who's boss. There will be times (hopefully very rare times) when you'll need to insist. She may really need to be brushed, but if she's being difficult, then establish a consistent ritual and routine around it. Go through certain recognizable motions before brushing her and brushing in the same particular location at the same time of day. The goal would be that she gets to know what's coming beforehand. Whatever routine is established will need to be done considering her moods as well. There may be certain times of day when she simply doesn't want to be bothered.

If she bites, hold her head firmly but gently to the floor for several seconds. This tells her that isn't acceptable. But then do consider exactly what occurred before the bite to see if you can begin to recognize warning signs.

Here are two separate resources:

 

Haru the Lionhead

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The way rabbits communicate is subtle. It seems from what you describe that it could be that she is being misunderstood. For example, if she uses her head to give your hand a nudge it may mean she wants you to stop petting her. If you don't stop, then she may resort to a lunge. Remember, a rabbit has no idea it is "scratching" you. It may "box" you with its paws which just happens to result in a scratch. (This is different than cats that know when they are scratching because they can retract their claws. Rabbits cannot do this.)

For most rabbits, it is very rare for them to resort to biting. Usually, they only bite after they have (in their eyes) given every warning they could (--using that rabbit body language). If this is what is happening, then the solution is to understand her body language and don't do what it is that is making her react. If she isn't in the mood to do tricks, then leave her alone. If she doesn't want to be brushed, wait til later.

It takes a practiced eye to understand a rabbit's body language. (I'll link resources on it below.)

Learning more about her way of communicating can help guide you in when and how to interact with her.

This isn't to say that some rabbits don't need to be shown who's boss. There will be times (hopefully very rare times) when you'll need to insist. She may really need to be brushed, but if she's being difficult, then establish a consistent ritual and routine around it. Go through certain recognizable motions before brushing her and brushing in the same particular location at the same time of day. The goal would be that she gets to know what's coming beforehand. Whatever routine is established will need to be done considering her moods as well. There may be certain times of day when she simply doesn't want to be bothered.

If she bites, hold her head firmly but gently to the floor for several seconds. This tells her that isn't acceptable. But then do consider exactly what occurred before the bite to see if you can begin to recognize warning signs.

Here are two separate resources:

Thank you very much
About the brushing.. I brush her everyday while she’s eating her pellets, everyday I would sit on the floor and put the pellet plate in front of me, and when she sits I would try to brush her, most of the times she would take some pellets in her mouth and run to the other side to eat them, then she would come back to take more, what is the right thing to do here? do i go after her or should I stay where i am? I usually wait for her to come, but now she knows that I’m not going to chase her so she doesn’t sit in front of me
 

Blue eyes

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Without knowing her eating routine or how often she gets pellets, I'd suggest setting up a pen so that it is just large enough for you and her to sit. This would prevent her from being able to get away. But this, again, would be assuming that this routine be established at the same time each day and during a time of day that she tends to be more receptive to brushing. If she is now leery of eating while she is getting brushed, then another option may be to see that the pellets become her reward after she is groomed.

Taking this further, you could try sitting with her in the small pen area and only give her a couple brush strokes followed by her pellet reward. (The couple brush stokes and the pellet reward (her daily feeding) should both be done in the confined pen with you still sitting in there with her.)

Do that same routine every day for several days -- better if a week. Then increase by a couple strokes and, as usual, follow it with her pellet reward. Gradually (and very slowly) you should be able to increase the amount of brush strokes.

This whole process, beginning with just a couple brush strokes, is to have her unlearn the idea that eating pellets means she will be brushed (which she may see right now as being punished). Instead she will learn that if she tolerates 2 brush strokes, she is rewarded with pellets. I suggested limiting yourself to 2 daily brush strokes for a full week because she has already been trained that eating pellets means being bothered by the brush. We want her to enjoy eating her pellets. We don't want her to be afraid that she'll be brushed if she eats. So be sure to not bother her when or after she starts eating the pellets.

Hopefully this strategy will help her associate her pellets as a reward for being brushed rather than as a "necessary evil" while eating.
 
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