Having a rabbit as a pet is a top-notch pick. They’re easy to train, quiet as a mouse, and have fun personalities. What a lot of people might not know is that they are incredibly loving, too. Although rabbit might not be jumping up into your lap like a dog, they love to spend time and bond with their owners. However, many owners don’t realize when or even if their bunny is bonding with them.
Rabbits bond with their owners by developing trust over time. Trust occurs when rabbits are well fed, their owners are patient and calm, and a ridged daily schedule has been instituted. Bonding activities that help rabbits owners gain trust with their rabbits include playing, grooming, petting, learning, and nuzzling.
If you’re a puzzled bunny owner wondering whether or not your pet even likes you, then you need to understand your rabbit a bit better. Rabbits show their affection and bond with owners in a plethora of ways. If you’re ready to learn all of the cool, sweet, and quirky ways bunny bond, keep reading.
How do Rabbits Bond with Their Owners?
Owning a rabbit can be rewarding, but many people don’t know what to do to get their rabbit to bond with them. Rabbits aren’t your typical pet. You can’t toss a ball of tinfoil like you would a cat or play fetch like you would a dog. That leaves a new bunny owner to wonder – How do rabbits bond with their owners?
Bonding Quickly With Your Rabbit
While bunnies are quiet, they are also very peculiar. They won’t bond with just anyone. Before a bunny can bond with their owner, they need to be able to trust them. If you try and rush into more affectionate bonding, such as nose nuzzling, then you might end up with an angry bunny.
Since rabbits are known for being easily stressed, they can become upset if they’re rushed into doing things they do not want to. As a result, you need to start the bonding process off slowly. However, anticipating your bunny’s needs and understanding each rabbit’s unique behavior is the true path to your bunny’s heart.
Here are eight tips for quickly bonding with your rabbit:
1. Let Your Rabbit Come to You
You can’t bring a bunny home and expect him to be your cuddle buddy right away. First, bonding experiences should be done slowly. Set him on the floor and allow the bunny to approach you. This will give him the confidence he needs to feel comfortable.
2. Don’t Pick Your Bunny Up
Although you might want to pick your new precious furball up right away, this is a surefire way to scare him. Keep him on the ground.
3. Don’t Hug Your Rabbit Initially
While this might change in the future, a first hug can feel more like suffocation to your rabbit. Avoid hugs.
4. Feed Rabbits Their Favorite Foods
Bunnies love to eat, so it’s pretty easy to keep their bellies happy. Rabbits can eat a wide range of fruits and vegetables, from bell peppers to peaches. They also love pellets and hay. Feed them regularly, and they will quickly become your best pal.
5. Talk to Your Rabbit in a Soothing Voice
Bunnies are very delicate creatures. Be too loud, shrill, or abrupt, and you will scare him. Earn their trust and bond with them by talking calmly and soothingly.
6. Murmur Around Your Rabbit
Bunnies murmur around each other. If you do it, too, then he will feel more comfortable being around you.
7. Create a Routine For Your Rabbit
Bunnies are creatures of habit. Keep rabbits on a rigid schedule, and they will feel more stable. This will develop trust with you as the owner. In turn, your rabbit will become a more affectionate and loving bunny. There are three routines to keep in mind:
- Feeding schedule. Try and feed your bunny around the same time each day. This way, they won’t have to worry about whether or not they are being fed when their stomach starts rumbling. They will also be excited to see you with their food, which builds trust and affection.
- Exercise schedule. Rabbits should not be cooped up in their enclosure all day, every day. Let them out for some exercise time.
- Bonding time. Pick a time out of the day to set aside for one-on-one bonding. If your bunny knows it’s bonding time, he or she will not be so reluctant to do it.
8. Act Like Your Bunny
Although you might feel a little bit silly pretending to act like a bunny, sometimes it is necessary to gain your bunny’s trust. You can try things like squinting your nose at the bunny or pretending to wash your face in the same way your furry pal does. This will help to ease your bunny’s fright and see that although you’re a big human, you’re nothing to be scared of.
Bonding With Your Bunny After Trust is Developed
After trust has been established, the fun begins. A happy bunny that trusts and adores his owner will bond in many ways. Here are some great things to do with your bunny that both of you will enjoy.
Groom Your Bunny
Bunnies groom each other to show that they love each other. Well, you can do the same for your furry pal. All you need to do is brush your bunny’s fur once a day. You can use a brush you already have in the home or opt for a bunny-specific brush like this 2-in-1 kit.
Pet Your Rabbit
Petting is a great way to bond with your bunny. A bunny that trusts his owner will love being petted. Just remember that your bunny should always come to you first. Sit on the floor and let your rabbit approach. Once close to you, begin petting your pet on the forehead. If they accept the petting, move on to other fond areas like the chin, cheeks, and back.
Play With Your Bunny
Just like any other pet, bunnies love playtime, too! But you can’t put together a game willy-nilly. The first step is to observe and understand your pet. Some bunnies may be more active and willing to play games, while others prefer to cuddle in peace. If your bunny appears afraid of the game at any point, it’s important to stop right away.
Here are a few easy ideas for playtime.
- Hide and seek. Bunnies love to play, hide, and seek. You will need to be the hider. Hide behind doors, underneath blankets, or under a table. Try not to make it too challenging. When you’re ready, call your bunnies name. When your rabbit find you, give him a treat.
- Provide a dig box. Surprising your active bunny with a dig box is a great way to excite them and keep them happy. You might want to do this outside, as it can be very messy. Simply fill a box with soil or dirt and let your bunny go crazy.
- Fetch. Now, this is not your typical fetch. This is the modified bunny version. In this game of fetch, you will be the one catching the toy. To play this game, set toys your bunny can throw on the ground. Once he throws it, grab it and place it back at his feet.
- Ball rolling. You can also play a fun ball game with your bunny. Roll the ball to them and try to engage them with rolling the ball back to you.
- Knock bowling pins over. Some bunnies love to knock things over. Purchase a set of kids bowling pins (plastic) that your bunny can run into and knock over.
Always be on your rabbits level during playtime. This will let them be less timid of the new game. Also, allow your bunnies to decide when playtime is over. Never force your bunny to keep playing, or he will not want to continue. You will essentially be back at square one.
Teach Your Rabbit Tricks
Your bunny is an intelligent little guy. Not only is he great at learning new tricks, but he enjoys it. This also offers a wonderful bonding experience for you and your pet.
Bunnies can learn a plethora of skills at a rather quick pace. Some of the favorite tricks bunny owners like to teach include:
- Bunny high-fives.
- Roll over.
- Agility tricks, such as jumping over a short fence.
Remember that every bunny is different, and the amount of time necessary for teaching a new trick will vary. The best thing to do is remain persistent. Always reward your bunny after each step of learning the new trick. The best reward is food, such as apples, bananas, melons, pears, or strawberries. Keep the serving size small, so there isn’t a big gap in-between learning.
Here is a great video showing a bunny doing 30 fascinating tricks. With persistence, you and your bunny can learn this same amount of tricks, too!
Nuzzle Noses With Your Bunny
This is a bonding activity that should be reserved only for when the trust is strong. Bunnies love to rub noses with their owner, but not too soon. Bunnies can become very upset and feel that you are trying to attack them if you perform this activity too soon, so be wary and save this for last.
Tips for Bonding With Your Bunny
Are you struggling? Don’t fret. Bunnies are fairly peculiar creatures, and it might not be the easiest task to start bonding. Here are a few extra tips to encourage bunny bonding.
- Be patient. It might take several weeks, even months, before your bunny goes from eating food out of your hand to nuzzling your nose. And that’s okay. Bunnies know they are fragile and delicate animals. They will take their time to feel confident and secure. Be patient, and you will reap the benefits.
- Don’t pick them up. This can’t be stressed enough. Rabbits hate being picked up out of fear they will be dropped and hurt themselves. If your primary means of bonding with your bunny is through holding them, stop immediately. Keep things on the floor, and they will be much happier.
- Give a bunny their space. Bunnies like their independence as much as they like attention. You need to know when to give it and when to stop. If you’re trying to encourage bonding and the bunny runs away, let them go. Try another time.
- Don’t try and bond with the scent of another animal on you. Bunnies can smell when you have been around another animal. This can frighten them.
- Give them a safe place to hide. Bunnies love hiding spots. It gives them an area where they can feel confident and secure from the elements. With plenty of hiding places around the home, your bunny will begin to feel harmless.
How Do Rabbits Show Affection to Humans?
If you’re brand new to the bunny-owning world, you might be wondering how your little buddy will show affection. It can be quite confusing, considering bunnies won’t jump up on your lap unless they are fully content and trust their owner. They also have some awkward ways of showing love, such as headbutting.
So what’s the deal? How do bunnies show affection? Some of these ways of showing affection may come as a surprise.
Here are some ways Rabbits show affection toward humans:
1. Circling and Dancing
Don’t be alarmed if your bunny rabbit begins to circle your feet. Rabbits circle their favorite human. Circling shows their admiration and excitement. Sometimes, they may even start to dance. This is referred to as binkying.
Here is a fun video showing a bunny circling and binkying for their owner:
A bunny that has developed significant, pure trust with their owner will become a cuddler. They will enjoy snuggling up to you. They may even fall asleep in your lap.
If your bunny is headbutting you, you might think it’s a negative sign. But this is not the case. A bunny will headbutt you because they are trying to leave their scent on you. They want to claim you as their own. Headbutting and rubbing of the head is a loving, positive action.
This may come as a surprise. But if a bunny is nipping at you, it’s not a bad thing. It could mean two things. For one, they may be trying to get your attention. If this is the case, spend some time with your needy pal. On the other hand, they may be trying to groom you. Rabbits only groom the ones they love, so accept the grooming and smile because your pet adores you.
This is widely known as being the ultimate sign of affection. Rabbits don’t lick people. They just don’t do it. If you are lucky enough to get a lick from your furry best friend, consider it a very high honor. From there, don’t do anything to mess the relationship up!
Yes. Believe it or not, cats aren’t the only ones that purr when they’re content. Rabbits also purr, and it is a sign that your rabbit is happy and feeling loved. However, a bunny’s purr isn’t the same as a cat.
When a bunny purrs, they rub their teeth together. That is why their purrs are also referred to as teeth-clicking. It’s a subtle noise, so pay close attention when petting your bunny.
If you didn’t know by now, bunnies learn their names and can be called on command. If rabbits listen, it’s a sign of respect and loves. However, sometimes a bunny will follow you around just because he wants to be with you – no name-calling necessary.
How to Tell if Your Rabbit is Not Bonding With You
A bunny clearly shows his affection by licking, headbutting, nipping, and circling. But there are a few behaviors that will show a clear disdain from your pet.
Knowing the difference between a happy movement and a negative movement will help you better understand your bunny and can even show your rabbit is not bonding well with you. From there, you can make changes to help encourage positive behavior and improve rapport with your rabbit.
Behaviors that may show your bunny is not bonding with you include::
Thumper isn’t just the name for an adorable Disney bunny. There is a reason behind a bunny’s thumping. Thumping is a clear sign that your furry pal is upset with something, someone, or his environment. The thumping is likely going to be loud as he is trying to make a statement. Thumping is followed up by the rabbit turning their back to you.
Although low-key and quiet, a bunny growl is not something to say ‘Aww’ about. A bunny that is growling is very unhappy. He likely feels threatened or trapped. You can avoid this situation by ensuring he doesn’t feel threatened. For example, don’t chase your bunny or pick him up.
If your bunny is standing up waving his fists around like he is ready to ‘hop’ into the ring (no pun intended), it’s not a sign he wants to play. A bunny that’s ready to punch anything and anyone is a very unhappy bunny.
Bunnies bond with their owners in plenty of ways, but they must gain trust first. Once trust has been established, bunnies will bond in fun ways, such as playing and nuzzling.
Remember that every bunny is different, and learning their personality will help you better bond with your pet. Pay attention to their body language cues, too, as some are positive while others are negative.