Can rabbits and dogs communicate?

Last Updated on June 22, 2023 by Admin

If you own a bunny and a dog or intend to adopt this unusual pair, you might be wondering if the two can coexist. If so, can rabbits and dogs communicate? The short answer is yes. This particular interspecies communication is possible as we shall expound in this article.


Can rabbits and dogs communicate?

Rabbits and dogs can learn to communicate with each other by learning each other’s body language through signals or tone. In addition, the two can also understand each other through visual or tactile cues.

In other words, rabbits and dogs can get along by learning each other’s signals, and if they’re properly introduced, both species can even free roam. On top of that, when the two spend quality time around each other, they’ll easily understand each other’s multimodal communication. As a result, both species can form a strong bond and live harmoniously by establishing a dominant hierarchy while also drawing boundaries.

Can rabbits and dogs communicate

How do rabbits communicate?

Although bunnies occasionally use vocalization, most of their communication is done through body language. Below are some of the various ways rabbits express themselves.


  • Ear signal

Rabbit ears are expressive and they can basically tell whether it’s alert, relaxed, inquisitive, afraid, or upset. Below are some of the various rabbit ear signals and their meaning.


a) Straight-up ears


A bunny with erect ears is an indicator that they’re alert or curious. It may also stand up attentively with its ears straight up, twitching its nose when something attracts its attention.


b) One ear up and one down


A rabbit that’s semi-alert will have one ear erect and the other lying down. What this means is that your bunny is trying to pay attention to different sounds as they try to relax at the same time. This is likely to be outdoors when they’re basking in the sun.


c) Ears that lay back


A rabbit with both ears lying back against its head across each other means that it’s content and in a resting state. On the other hand, a bunny with ears lying back without touching the head and sometimes with bulging eyes is an indicator that it’s frightened.


d) Ears positioned forward


A rabbit with its ears positioned forward is normally in an inquisitive state. This is mainly followed by a bunny standing on all fours with its head out and tail stretched out.


e) Ear that shakes

A rabbit that’s shaking its ears and then hops is a sign that they’re excited or in a playful mood. However, a bunny that shakes its ears and then scratches them is a tell-tale sign that it could be an itchy ear. Lastly, a rabbit that persistently shakes its ear could also be a sign of an ear mite infestation.


  • Tail signs

Besides ear signals, rabbits also communicate using their tail. For instance, a tail placed down shows displeasure or hesitation, while a tail that’s upward may imply confidence or a warning before aggression. In addition, a tail wag is a rabbit’s polite way of saying that it’s not in the mood or it’s a clear way of showing defiance.


  • Grunting

A grunting rabbit is one in an angry state, normally about to lunge, bite or scratch. A bunny normally grunts when it’s cornered, threatened, or in an uncomfortable position.


  • Tooth-grinding

A bunny that’s in pain or discomfort may grind its tooth loudly while sitting in a hunched position. However, a soft tooth grind is a sign of a rabbit that’s content.


  • Tooth-clicking

A rabbit that clicks its tooth is usually in a relaxed or content state. Your pet may click its teeth when it’s being petted or during rest after a meal. Tooth clicking is a low audible sound a bunny makes and can be compared to the purring of a cat.


  • Nipping

A nip is a gentle rabbit bite. Bunnies will nip you when it wants your attention or when you’re in their way. Nipping could also be a polite way of saying “back off “more so if a rabbit is agitated.


  • Chinning

Chinning is the act of rabbits rubbing their chin against things they consider to be in their territory. Bunnies usually have scent glands under their chin that release a liquid they use to mark things with.


  • Nose-nudge

A nose nudge is another way a rabbit communicates. It could be a form of play, a request to get your attention, or perhaps your bunny is trying to tell you to get out of its way.


  • Lunging

An angry bunny is most likely to lung at you whenever it feels scared, threatened, or cornered. It may even go a step further and bite or scratch without warning.


  • Licking

Licking is a way bunnies not only show affection but it also means that you’ve earned their trust. During grooming, rabbits also like to lick each other when they want to form close ties.


  • Thumping

Rabbit thumping could be a warning sign to other bunnies that there’s an imminent danger. It could also be a sign that your pet is trying to defend its territory from trespassers. In other words, rabbits also tend to thump when they’re afraid or displeased.


  • Binky

A bunny binky is a unique jump with a body twist and simultaneous kicking of feet in the air. This is one of the various ways rabbits express excitement or happiness.


  • Spraying urine or territory droppings

Rabbits will often mark their territory by spraying urine or scattered droppings on what they consider to be their area. This usually happens when your bunny is in a new environment or when you have more than one pet. However, nipping this behavior in the bud entails spaying or neutering your bunny.


  • Circling


A rabbit will often circle around you when it’s seeking attention or around other bunnies during courting. The latter can also be followed by a honk or oink.


  • Flopping

Your rabbit may flop when it’s in a relaxed or comfortable resting state. In other words, there’s no need for alarm when it dramatically flips over its side and lays still for some time.


  • Vocalizations

Although bunnies communicate primarily using body language, they sometimes vocalize or make certain noises as we shall see below.

a) Honking- Honking is a soft sound made by rabbits during mating that’s often followed by circling. However, if your bunny has been spayed or neutered, it may sometimes honk out of excitement more so if it’s about to have its favorite treat.

b) Squealing –A rabbit that whimpers or squeals softly is an indication that it’s annoyed or displeased.

c) Screaming- A scream is definitely a sign of a rabbit in excruciating pain.

d) Grunting- A growl or grunt is a warning sign before a rabbit acts aggressively. It may have followed with a bite or scratch.


How do dogs communicate?

Dogs communicate through their sense of smell and visual or sound cues. In other words, they decipher information through their brain waves. To be specific, a dog relies on pheromones, glandular secretion, body postures, barks, yips, glows, or whines to communicate.

Dogs just like rabbits primarily communicate through posture or body language, although each species does so differently. The former for example is expressive and will communicate through its ears, head, neck, and tail. Additionally, if you want to understand your dogs entirely, also pay close attention to their facial expression and vocalization too.



Can rabbits and dogs communicate? Most definitely. Just ensure that you choose the best rabbit breed that gets along with dogs. On top of that, have both animals around each other as often as possible to enable both species to read each other’s signals.


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