The question rabbit owners often ask is, how do I get my bunny to trust me to pick him up? A rabbit with all its four feet off the ground isn’t something your pet considers natural, however, you may need to carry them from time to time. Considering that a rabbit has a fragile skeletal structure, you need to handle it the right way. This article talks about how to earn a rabbit’s trust to the extent of allowing you to lift him up.
How do I get my bunny to trust me to pick him up?
It’s always advisable to start handling your rabbit at a tender age, preferably when he’s a few weeks old. On the other hand, if you want to teach an older bunny to be comfortable with being picked up, you’ll first need to earn their trust through the use of positive reinforcement. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to pick up your rabbit with ease.
If your rabbit runs away or tries to escape every time you try to pick him up, then you need to refrain from doing so. First and foremost, you’ll need to rebuild trust since your bunny by now associates you with involuntarily lifting, which is a frightening experience.
Start by sitting quietly near your rabbit and let them come to you. Being at their level, preferably seated calmly on the floor. This essentially makes you seem less threatening with no intent of forcefully trying to pick them up. Finally, Offer your rabbit treats every time he comes next to you to strengthen your bond. Do this regularly until your rabbit grows fond of you.
Once you’ve built a bond with your bunny, the next step is to gently pet or stroke its back, forehead and behind the ear when they voluntarily come near you. In other words, you’re trying to teach your pet that your hands mean no harm.
Once your pet is comfortable, let them get used to the idea of being petted around key parts of their body you’ll likely use when lifting him. They include, down the spine and under his chest.
When your rabbit tries to move away from you, let them do so and wait for the next session preferably when feeding him treats. This will basically give your bunny the idea that it’s in control. Do this repeatedly until you successfully place your hands strategically down your pet’s spine and under its chest. If they remain calm while you’re at it, offer them a treat and proceed to the final step.
Picking your rabbit
Start off by gently trying to lift its back with one hand while the other support your rabbit’s chest. Just make sure that its front legs are still on the ground. If your bunny tries to move, allow them to do so with ease and wait for the next session.
Once again, try to lift your rabbit gently off the ground after petting him, then try to rest your hand on his chest until he gets comfortable with it. This time round while placing a treat slightly above your pet’s nose, gently lift your pet slightly off the ground. Upon successfully doing so, place your rabbit back on the floor before rewarding him. Finally, be patient and do this repeatedly as you increase the distance off the ground until your pet is completely comfortable with being picked up.
Getting a rabbit to trust you to pick him up might take a few weeks or sometimes even months depending on how skittish your rabbit is. However, even when your rabbit is comfortable being picked up, only do so occasionally or when necessary. Lastly, due to a bunny’s fragile nature, avoid lifting up a bunny with his scruff, ears, legs, or tail.