Pet Tips – Introducing a rabbit to your dog.

I recently adopted a 3 month old baby bunny from the Humane Society. I love her dearly but my dog is having trouble adapting to the change in the house. He will not stop staring at her while shaking and whining. I put up a barrier between her and her cage so he would not get too close but he still will not leave her alone. I give him a treat when he sits down like a good boy but he does not listen to me anymore. Today he tried to nip at the bunny while she was playing. He is already on a medication to calm him down but I do not know if it is enough. Do you have any suggestions on how to get him to calm down around the bunny?

It sounds like you have your hands full! You’ve already done some things I would suggest, like putting up a visible barrier and rewarding your dog for good behavior. I think you may literally have to take a few steps back to set your dog up to succeed. First, find a treat your dog loves and is only given to him during training sessions. Something like hot dogs or cheese usually works well. Then focus on obedience training your dog in an area away from the rabbit. Obedience classes may help as well. The idea is to train your dog to listen to you even when there are distractions such as the rabbit. Once you feel confident with your dog’s response to your commands, you can slowly introduce him to the rabbit again. Start by giving commands at the opposite side of the room the rabbit is in. Slowly move closer to the rabbit as long as you dog is still obeying your commands. You may also want to stuff a Kong or give your dog something that will keep him occupied once he is able to be around the rabbit’s cage. If that doesn’t work, I would suggest moving the rabbit into a room where the door can be closed. Let your dog get used to the rabbit’s presence with a visual barrier. Then I suggest opening the door and putting a baby gate up. You can still use a visual barrier at this stage if needed. Then remove the visual barrier. Let the rabbit out of its cage and allow it to approach the dog on its own terms while the dog is behind the baby gate. Continue rewarding the dog for good behavior. Hopefully some of these suggestions will help you with your situation. But remember to always supervise all interactions between your dog and rabbit.

WI House Rabbit Society