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Teaching a rabbit to jump over obstacles?

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Auggie+Snowball+Belle

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Hey all. I’m still missing Auggie so much and Belles getting crazier by the day. So we are going to teach her to jump like horses do! Just for fun but we think she’ll absolutely love it seeing how she loves to run around all crazy and jump over baby gates (2 feet tall ones). And it’ll let out some of her energy. We’re going to have 3 jumps total. I know rabbit jumping isn’t very popular but anybody familiar with it? I looked it up and I have a basic idea of how it works.

Right now, what I need help with is teaching her about the harness. I’ve already introduced it to her just on the ground for a couple days. But as soon as I put it on her back (not clipping it, just laying it on her back) unless she’s eating her dinner she bucks it off. I don’t want her to associate it with bad things so does anybody have any suggestions on how to harness train her? Thanks!
 

Blue eyes

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You'll have to have the correct style harness. @SableSteel is familiar with rabbit hopping. Here's a thread that discusses it a little:
 

Niomi

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I have two rabbit that did agility, but everything is closed now because of covid-19. Leash training takes time, and it looks like you know what to do to start. One of my rabbits didn't like the leash. When I got to the point where I could put it on her, she only wore it for about a few minutes and I gradually increased. When she got into a class, there was so much going on that she didn't pay attention to the harness, and it was no longer a problem. My other rabbit let me put harness on him and it never bothered him.

There different ways to teach agility, and if you do it with a group, they will teach leash training. If you are just doing this by yourself for fun, you might not even need a leash. You can get a rabbit to jump hurdles with target training. There are videos on YouTube on teaching rabbits to follow a target. I use a stick with a small cat ball attached to the end. You teach your rabbit to touch it with her nose and reward your rabbit when she does. Soon she will follow the target where ever you move it. You can then move the target through the hurdles, and your rabbit will follow.
 

Auggie+Snowball+Belle

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@Blue eyes thanks, I was reading the thread and it said I needed an h harness? Where can I find those in xl sizes because Belle is now over 10 lbs? This is the one we have, just in blue:
11EA1D7C-D173-4E21-8A31-69DB7B8F0074.jpeg400A0CFD-F968-4890-B915-1948C86178B0.jpeg
If you open it, it kind of looks like an h but I’m not sure if it’s an h harness.. It’s the only one we could find in her size and is the only style I saw. But I’m sure if we look harder, I can find one.
@Niomi that’s so cool! I want to do shows but I’m probably not going to any time soon if I ever do. And I live in the middle of nowhere so there are no rabbit jumping shows around here. I would do that but I also want to take her on walks around the yard on warm days so I want to harness train her. But if the harness doesn’t work out, I’ll give that a try. At what point do I strap it on her? I think the problem is she hates her stomach being touched so as soon as I try to strap it, she runs away. And she hates being held lol. What harness do you use?
 

Niomi

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@Blue eyes thanks, I was reading the thread and it said I needed an h harness? Where can I find those in xl sizes because Belle is now over 10 lbs? This is the one we have, just in blue:
My rabbit are about 5 pounds and I have had problems finding any to fit. When I did find a couple of them, I was greatly disappointed. My rabbits were able to slip out of those very easily, especially if the fabric was a smooth material. The agility class that I was going to recommend "H" harnesses.
 
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Niomi

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Chew.com has a Kitty Holster Cat Harness that might fit. Look for cat harness, instead of rabbit harness and you will have better luck.
 

Blue eyes

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@Blue eyes thanks, I was reading the thread and it said I needed an h harness? Where can I find those in xl sizes because Belle is now over 10 lbs? This is the one we have, just in blue:
View attachment 51031View attachment 51033
If you open it, it kind of looks like an h but I’m not sure if it’s an h harness.. But if the harness doesn’t work out, I’ll give that a try. At what point do I strap it on her?
Neither of these are h-harnesses and neither should be used -- whether doing agility or not.
Only use h-harnesses.
 
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Niomi

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Neither of these are h-harnesses and neither should be used -- whether doing agility or not.
We use harness in agility, but the class is run by people who have been members of HRS and the MN Companion Society for many years. They know what they are doing, but I don't think it is a good idea to try without an expert there to prevent injuries. 4-H also teaches agility.

For most people, target training works well, and can also be used to teach other tricks. It is a much safer and a harness isn't needed. I should also add that larger, heavier rabbits get injured on the jumps easier than small rabbits, because of the weight on their joints when they land. A soft landing should be provided. In class, the floor is covered with rubber mats.
 

Blue eyes

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^ I just added "Only use h-harnesses" to my prior thread. I saw that it could be misread when I said "neither should be used." By 'neither', I meant neither of the two pictured in auggie's post. (ie. I wasn't saying to not use h-harnesses) :p
 

Auggie+Snowball+Belle

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I will look se cat harnesses up. Thanks for letting me know @Blue eyes and good thing I didn’t use it yet. @Niomi yeah we have a gymnastics mat so I figured that will be fine to set down underneath the jumps. I might try target training but the thing is I read that they should jump because they want to jump, not because they want a treat when they jump (I think target training is based on giving them treats when they follow a cat wand or whatever you use). But I’ll first see if I can find an h harness for her.
 

Niomi

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I will look se cat harnesses up. Thanks for letting me know @Blue eyes and good thing I didn’t use it yet. @Niomi
Rabbits are smart. If you are just lining up hurdles, they should be able to go through them by themselves. We are trained with a harness to begin with, but advanced rabbits are expected to go through the course without a leash. My beginner rabbit can do it without a leash, and as long as he gets praise he doesn't need a harness. He also reads body language. If I step to the left of him, he goes right, and I step right to make him go left. I was trying to teach him to "stop," but he would circle around to the beginning of the course and start again.
 
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SableSteel

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KW cages and some other rabbit supply companies sell large H-style harnesses
 

Blue eyes

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@Niomi... just letting you know I've edited 2 of your posts to separate your comment from the one you were quoting. Your comments were showing up inside the quote boxes rather than outside of them.

To prevent this from happening, be sure to begin typing after the [/QUOTE] as shown in the screenshot below

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Auggie+Snowball+Belle

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Thanks @SableSteel , I’ll have to keep looking into it and if it doesn’t work out, a kitten h one would be fine (unless it’s not fine to use for a rabbit). @Niomi once she gets the hang of it, I’ll probably try doing it without a harness but as you said, at first she’ll need one. I’m probably just going to have them in a line so I should be fine.

Edit: How do you teach them how to read your body language like you said?
 

Niomi

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Thanks @SableSteel , I’ll have to keep looking into it and if it doesn’t work out, a kitten h one would be fine (unless it’s not fine to use for a rabbit). @Niomi once she gets the hang of it, I’ll probably try doing it without a harness but as you said, at first she’ll need one. I’m probably just going to have them in a line so I should be fine.

Edit: How do you teach them how to read your body language like you said?
It is a little like herding. Rabbits like to see all the way around them, so the rabbit walks in front. Command your rabbit to "go" or "hop." To begin with, if they don't go, you can try reaching down and tickling the back of her hocks and giving encouragement. If you want her to go right, give the command, "Bells right," and take a big step to her left side. When she see your leg on her left side, she will go right. Always praise, "good girl," like you would do for a dog. Positive training only. We don't use treats in agility, but there are no rules against it. By being behind your rabbit, she will know which way to move by how you move. If your rabbit lays down, then it is probably time for a break. By giving commands, your rabbit should eventually learn verbal commands.
 

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