According to APPA, 68% of US households own a pet, and 90 million are dogs. So, what happens if you want to have a rabbit join the mix? Well, if you do, you might first like to learn how to introduce the two pets. Learning to help them interact and get up may bring peace in the house. From the first step, you need to develop high-level patience. Based on the nature of their relationship, predator-prey, it would be stressful for the prey.
How to Get Prepared
You need to understand a few things before introducing your rabbit to the dog. It will help ease your introductory process. But, first, make sure your home is dog-friendly.
Research For A Rabbit-Friendly Dog
Before bringing in or introducing a rabbit to your dog, you need to get a few things straight. Is your dog rabbit-friendly? Dogs and rabbits have a predator-prey relationship. Therefore, introducing a rabbit to an unfriendly dog is a bad idea. Additionally, dogs that have exposure to hunting and tracking may not be friendly. Bear in mind that some dogs are born hunters.
You need to think about all possibilities before introducing the rabbit. Understand your dog’s personality and perspective towards herbivores.
Research Dog-Friendly Rabbit
On the other side of the coin, not all herbivores are comfortable in the presence of a carnivore. There are dozens of rabbit breeds and, similarly, varying traits and personalities. Reach out to friends who have had similar ideas and worked. Adopting a dog-friendly rabbit keeps off the drama you might witness at first sight.
Consult The Veterinarian
A rule of thumb; consult the vet every time you want to bring in a new pet. The vet will evaluate whether the rabbit and the dog will socialize healthily. They might enlighten you of any possible stressors and hurt. Apart from the vet, you can also consult a breeder. They usually have rich information about an animal’s personality.
Introducing A Rabbit To The Dog
You now have the rabbit of choice ready to start the introduction process. You should understand that the introduction is a slow process, and therefore, rushing things may not be fruitful. Also, understand the risks involved, including potential death of the rabbit, stress, or injuries.
Start With An Obedience Training
Before anything else, first, ensure that your dog listens to you. Take some time to train your dog to respond to your commands. Some of the best orders to focus on include “leave it”, “drop it”, among others. Congratulate and praise your dog for every successful response. Other essential skills you can train on include sitting, lying down, staying, and coming.
Ensuring that your dog listens to you might save the rabbit from a possible tragedy. Focusing on leaving it and dropping it is essential as commonly, dogs snatch first before actually biting.
Neutral Introduction Space
Every animal, especially carnivores, has territorial behavior. It is a feeling of ownership, especially if the animal spends much time in an area. Some of these areas include where it sleeps, feeds, and plays. Finding an entirely new place disowns the resident pet’s possessiveness and pressure.
Additionally, a neutral space helps eliminate any external pressures and stresses. Also, it allows the pet to relax, be comfortable, and interact. In the end, the introductions will be swift and effective.
Cage the Rabbit
Cage the rabbit and give it some time to cool off before bringing it to the neutral space. You can purchase the hutch online or from a local store. But, if it continues showing signs of stress due to caging, consider postponing introductions. Some of the probable signs of stress amongst rabbits include peeing and circling the cage. Such discomfort from the rabbit may trigger the dog to attack. Again, keeping the rabbit in a cage ensures that it cannot run away, nor can the dog attack it. Thus, you will have complete control of any unpredictable behavior.
Secure the Dog
As much as you have spent time training the dog on basic obedience skills, you should secure it. It is vital during the first meeting to ensure you have firm control. The best position that the dog should take during the introduction is lying or sitting. That way, you can observe it and control its first reaction. Ensure the leash attached does not cause any harm to the dog.
Introduce Them Slowly And Bring Them Closer
As aforementioned, you should not approach the introduction process with haste. It’s not a one-day occasion! Let the dog visualize the rabbit slowly so that the rabbit doesn’t dash around. Let it smell and come close and around the rabbit’s crate. Generally, avoid sudden moves or direct interactions at first sight.
Once the pets interact in their space for some considerate time, remove the barriers and let them interact. Keep it brief. You can opt to hold the rabbit or otherwise regulate the dog tightly. It will be perfect if someone else helps you. At this stage, stay keen on the sign of distress from the rabbit. If it is too uncomfortable, postpone the meetup. Ensure that the two parties remain calm.
Triggers of harm are everywhere, and thus, the rabbit and the dog should never be left alone. Always be around watching whether either of them is showing signs of stress. Besides, every session is unpredictable.
Keep The Interactions Short
Keep it short and sweet. Longer introductory sessions may result in excitement. Thus, more accidental injury to either, especially the rabbit. On the other hand, longer sessions may distress the rabbit.
Develop A Routine
Create more time for the pets to get used to each other. Create a regular pattern or schedule to see and smell each other. Eventually, they will adapt. However, ensure that neither of the animals is sharing resources throughout the whole process.
For example, sharing food may be a minor issue but very provocative. Animals are territorial about their feeding and sleeping areas and thus, avoid sharing. Also, you should not show more attention to one animal than the other. Dogs may be jealous.
Keep Them Company And Be Patient
The whole process highly requires patience. As much as it can be easy for humans to make friends, it is not for animals. It takes time, and if it matters, you should be patient with them. Be there, watch them, and let them interact. The time is worth it.
The introduction process between different animals, especially predator and prey, may not be a walk in the park. However, challenging doesn’t mean impossible. Let the rabbit feel comfortable while the dog is around. On the other hand, keep the dog calm and secure throughout the process. With time, patience, and commitment, the two will bond. It may take longer, but it’s worth it.