Although you enjoy the company of your bunny, you may have had a sweet and lovable canine pal in the past and now yearn to once more experience the joys of having a pet dog. But you’re worried that your bunny may be at risk because of the opposing categories where the two species belong. Rabbits are prey animals, while dogs are predators. Does this mean that putting dogs and bunnies together under one roof is like playing Russian roulette with your bun’s safety?
Not necessarily, some experts and rabbit parents say. Other factors come into play that will determine if your pup and bun can coexist without any problems.
Can dogs and rabbits get along?
Based on the fundamental characteristics of their respective breeds, it’s easy to conclude that bunnies and dogs will have a problematic relationship. Because they’ve descended from predators, dogs often have a strong prey drive, which is the instinct to chase small animals. Meanwhile, being predatory animals, rabbits possess an innate fear of species that target them in the wild.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t have both a doggy and a bunny for a pet. Given the right conditions, your dog and your rabbit can learn to get along. It falls on you, their fur-parent, to make that happen.
Make sure that your dog and rabbit are a good match
Not all dogs are the same, and this also holds true for rabbits. Each animal has a unique personality, which will determine if your two fur babies can live happily together under your care. To increase the chances of a good bun and pup relationship, here are some things you can do.
Check out their personalities
Not all dogs attack rabbits. By the same token, not all rabbits are mortally afraid of dogs. But if you already have a pet bunny, you need to focus your attention on checking out the personality of the canine pal you intend to bring home.
Some dogs are more high-spirited than others. These frisky types can pose risks to your bun as their excited barking and movements may scare your rabbit. Moreover, one particularly strong, playful swipe may be all it takes to send your bun to the vet.
Meanwhile, some dogs have a more pronounced prey drive, and they may not be able to resist the temptation to run after your bunny, which can spook your rabbit. Calm, gentle doggies have a higher chance of being a good companion for a bun.
Rule out hormonal interference
Hormones usually influence an animal’s behavior. So if you want to bring together pets from different species, having them neutered or spayed is a good idea. Intact dogs may suddenly go after your bun even after they’ve been living in peace for some time because of changes in their hormone levels or as a reaction to an intact rabbit’s humping behavior.
Test the two animals’ reactions to each other
Does your bun look deathly scared at the sight of the dog? You’re likely aware that rabbits can go into shock or suffer a heart attack when they get scared, so you need to find out if your pet can tolerate being with a furry companion of a different species.
How does the dog react to your rabbit? Showing a lot of interest in your bun is not a good sign. Even if the dog means no harm, your bunny may interpret your doggy’s enthusiasm negatively.
A pup who shows little or no interest in your rabbit is a better indicator of a potentially successful bun-pup match, as this may mean that the dog has a low prey drive and won’t get easily excited by your bunny.
How to introduce dogs and rabbits to each other
You should never take chances when you introduce your dog and rabbit as you can’t predict how each will react. The safety of your bunny should be your priority, and you should act accordingly.
1. Make sure there’s a barrier between your rabbit and dog
The barrier can be a fence or your bun’s cage. Keeping your rabbit inside the hutch or behind the fence, take the dog into the room. Your pup should be on a leash to give your more control over his actions. Don’t let him come near your bun, but instead, observe the two creatures’ reactions.
Did your pup lunge upon seeing the rabbit? Or did your bun scramble away from the fence? If your dog became excited at the sight of the bunny or if your rabbit looked scared, quickly take your pup out of the room.
Repeat the process after a few days. It may take several repetitions before the two get used to seeing each other. Once they start acting more relaxed, you can let your pup come closer to the pen. Check if your bun doesn’t look stressed at the dog’s approach.
2. Let them interact
If neither of the two acts up when you take your dog closer to your rabbit’s cage, you can now allow your dog and bunny to interact without a barrier between them. Always keep your dog on a leash and be ready to intervene at the first sign of trouble.
Before you let your bun out of the cage, make sure there’s somewhere he can run and hide if ever he feels threatened. After you open the door of his hutch, allow him to approach the dog on his own. Don’t force the issue if he won’t come near your pup.
If any of your pets showed agitation or excitement, end the interaction promptly and try again another time. On the other hand, if none of them seems bothered, meaning your pup didn’t get frantic, and your bun didn’t display signals of distress such as thumping his back legs, you can let them investigate one another. During the whole process, be ready to act quickly if you see trouble brewing.
3. Continue socializing your pets
Under your supervision, let your bun and pup interact at least once a day until they get thoroughly comfortable with one another. This may take a couple of months or so. After such time, they’ll likely feel relaxed in each other’s presence. Still, keeping them apart when you’re not home or when you can’t check on them now and then is a great idea to minimize the risks to your rabbit’s safety.
Dogs and rabbits can share the same home. With vigilance, patience, and a lot of hard work on your part, your bun and pup can learn to be comfortable with each other. With luck, they may even end up being best friends.
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