Rabbits don’t always get the credit they deserve when it comes to learning commands. While dogs may get all the glory for their tricks and obedience, rabbits are also more than capable of picking up some tricks of their own through command training.
Rabbits are capable of understanding simple commands from their owners. With enough consistent training and patience, rabbits have the capability to learn up to fifteen different commands. A clicker may aid in command training by helping rabbits associate sound with the desired action.
Here are four commands your rabbit can actually understand:
- Come When Called
- Giving Kisses
- High Fives
Rabbits are smart, adorable animals who deserve far more credit when it comes to their skills, affection, and loyalty to their humans. A strong connection, consistency, and proper training techniques will help the command training process go much more smoothly.
1. Come When Called
- If you’ve never seen a rabbit perk their ears up and answer to its name, you are missing out
It can be beneficial to start by teaching your rabbit to respond with a clicker. This can help rabbits understand you are seeking their attention through sound.
Once your bunny begins to respond to the clicking sound, you will want to reward them with treats and love to show them you’re happy with their response.
Employ these steps when teaching your rabbit the command to come when called:
- Begin calling out your rabbit’s name and making eye contact with them while they are next to you. Repeat your rabbit’ss name a few times, and as you do so, give them a treat. Repeat this process a few times a day for a few weeks so they can begin to associate their name with treats and to be near you.
- Stand a few feet away and call their name, holding the treat out so they can see it. Once they come to you, give them that treat.
- Begin moving further and further away and show less of the treat until you reach a point where you are no longer luring them with a treat but instead simply calling their name.
You can still give your bunny a treat occasionally after they come, but the goal would be to phase them out, so they are merely coming when called.
While training your rabbit commands, consider what they want their reward to be. According to rabbit.org, the prize can be anything from treats to freedom to roam to petting and cuddles or access to their favorite spots.
2. Giving Kisses
After a long day, who wouldn’t want a little smooch from their rabbit? Many rabbits pick this trick up pretty quickly, and it’s not a hard one to teach them. This command will not even need a trigger word but rather a sound.
Here are the three steps to teaching your rabbit the command to give kisses:
- Use your rabbit’s favorite treat to lure them up to your nose. You may need to show them the treat towards the ground and then slowly move up towards your nose so they can track where it is going.
- Once your rabbit is close and sniffing out the treat, you can hide the treat and your rabbit will begin to search for it.
- Keep your fist by your nose until they are right up against your face, and then remove your fist and make a kissing sound and give them the treat. The sound will be their command, as well as reassurance that they are doing it right.
The main objective of teaching the “kiss” command is to find the best way to get their nose up near your face.
From there, you can make contact and get the cutest little kiss from your bunny. Some rabbits will pick this up quicker than others, especially if they are naturally more affectionate and like being near you.
3. High Fives
This command is always adorable and is a reasonably easy command for rabbits to learn. You can use treats as a reward, but your rabbit will come to know the sound of your voice as you ask for the high five as well.
Make sure you are consistent in whatever you want to say for them to understand the command, whether it is “high five,” “palm,” or any word you wish to use as the command.
Make sure you keep these sessions short and fun for your rabbit. You don’t want your rabbit to feel like this training is a chore or an obstacle that they become frustrated with. Rather, you want them to be excited to play and show off their new moves.
Here are the four steps to training your rabbit the command for high fives :
- Hold a treat in your hand at the same level as your rabbit’s head. When you first start, you don’t want it to be hard for them to see the treat or to reach it. Keep the treat in the palm of your hand and offer it to the rabbit with your palm facing up and let her grab it from your hand.
- Next, do the same process, but raise your hand a little higher, so she has to stretch a bit more to reach it. Since your hand will be higher up, she will need to place her paws on your hand to steady herself as she reaches the treat and eats it. Repeat this with her a couple of times per day for a week. This will teach her the connection of her paws and your hands = treat time.
- Begin making the motion and holding your hand at that height without the treat, and you will find she will still know to put her paws up there. Still, reward her with occasional treats, so she knows she’s doing it right.
- Slowly shift from having your palm facing up to having it face your bunny. Let this be gradual and go at the pace that she is comfortable with.
The Key to teaching rabbits to high five is their understanding of the connection between the rabbit’s paws and your hand.
Make sure to be consistent in your command and what word you use to trigger their jumps. Keep it simple, clear, and make sure to be repetitive with it in your training.
ClickerTraining.com recommends starting with teaching the rabbit to jump a pole first, and then transition to other jumps. Here are the steps to teach them how to jump over a dowel or pole.
- Using a target stick will be an excellent way to direct your rabbit. You can use a standard target stick intended for dogs but will work for any animal you are trying to train a new command to. I use the COA target stick and this is by far the best and easiest target stick I have ever used. Check it out on Amazon here.
- Using the target stick to get your rabbit’s attention, put a treat towards the tip of the stick so your bunny can find it and know that is what she needs to pay attention to.
- Once your rabbit is comfortable following the stick, begin leading her over a bar that is either flat on the ground or only an inch or two in the air. Continue this so that they understand the motion and make sure to use the same command every time vocally.
- You can begin raising the bar in small increments and repeating this process until they are comfortable with it.
Once your rabbit gets used to this process, you may even be able to get her to jump over the bar without the stick, but instead, following your vocal command instead.
With these commands, as well as any others you may decide to teach your rabbit, it’s important to remember how key repetition is. Be consistent in your commands and be patient. Only go at the speed your rabbit seems comfortable with. Rabbits will learn everything much easier, and they will appreciate your patience with them, making them happy rabbits with a new bag of tricks.