Bunny Care Guide: How To Discipline Your Rabbit
One of the first things you'll realize as a bunny owner is that your bunny is quite naughty. Rabbits are always sticking their noses into things they shouldn't, chewing things they shouldn't and biting that which they shouldn't, which sometimes includes you.
When dealing with rabbits, the best discipline is prevention, or as the old wives would say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If you have things you don't want your rabbit to chew on, get them out of the way. If you leave your new pants on the floor where bunny can get at them and subsequently chew enough holes in them to make them more like a sieve than pants, then really it's your own fault. (And yes, that was on one occasion, my fault.)
Bunny proofing the areas your rabbit is allowed in is the first step to effective control of your rabbit's behavior. However, no matter how much you bunny proof, it is almost certain that your rabbit will find naughty things to do, so you really do need to come up with some strategy of coping in those situations.
The first thing you shouldn't do, is hit them in any fashion. A rabbit will not construe any form of smack as a constructive comment on their behavior, instead they will become angry, affronted, and possibly even more aggressive. It is difficult enough to establish a good relationship with a rabbit when you treat it as if it were the king or queen of the world, let alone if you dare lay a hand upon it.
Rabbits aren't dogs, they're not going to really learn a great deal of English commands. 'NO' can be quite effective, although it is more a case of tone and pitch being indicators of trouble rather than any recognition of the word itself. If your rabbit bites you, a shrill squeal can be an effective deterrent, and clapping your hands or shouting are also good ways to get a bunny to stop the activity it is engaging in. You may be the recipient of some dirty looks and foot stamps for your effrontery, but the bunny will at least have ceased the activity.
You can also try turning your back on your rabbit, and/or stamping your foot as they do. These are powerful indicators of disdain in the rabbit world, and should your rabbit care what you think, they may be quite effective.
To conclude, it is probably best to think of your bunny as a small, haughty, cyclonic force of nature. You can corral it and provide it with outlets upon which to vent, such as toys, which are very important unless you want your bunny chewing the skirting or other household fixtures. You can cease behavior on a one off basis by the hand clapping or no shouting method, but at the end of the day, disciplining a rabbit is like herding cats, or houseflies, whichever is harder.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.