Almost half of pet owners have at least one dog. Are you one of them and want to buy a bunny now? If you want peace to remain in the house, it's important to know how to introduce each other. They can live together in harmony as long as you have more docile breeds, train them both to be obedient, and arm yourself with a good deal of patience. It is important to be aware that rabbits, however, are preyed species and are not natural companions to canines; it's possible that your dog will end up feeling threatened and stressed by the dog's presence. In that case, it's important to be prepared to keep them separate permanently if things don't work out.
Method 1 of 4: Choosing the right pet
Step 1. Search for dogs that “tolerate” rabbits the most
When bringing a new dog into the house, it is important that it be of a breed that is not aggressive with the teeth; Golden Retrievers, Labradors and Terriers, by their instinct, hunt and look for animals such as rabbits and rats.
- The breed does not always define the dog's personality. Closely monitor his behavior before introducing him to any other animal.
- Some veterinarians and dog breeders may not agree on the best breed option to purchase in homes where a rabbit already exists. You will likely find several conflicting options on this aspect.
Step 2. Choose a rabbit that has a personality that matches that of the dogs
There are also several breeds of lagomorphs, which like canines, have different types of behavior. The ideal is to choose a rabbit that has a "genius" that matches the furry one. See some of the recommended breeds for socialization:
- Dutch and Mini Dutch
- Himalayan rabbit.
- California Rabbit.
Step 3. See a veterinarian
It is important to take this step before bringing any pets into your home; those who already live with you should be in good health and well socialized. When stressed or injured, they may become more defensive and susceptible to aggressive behavior. Therefore, ask the veterinarian to do a "checkup" and guide you with the appropriate instructions on how to take care of the new resident of the house.
Method 2 of 4: Preparing the Introduction
Step 1. Train the dog to be obedient
He needs to be used and trained to respond to your commands, listening and reacting appropriately. You will be in control of the "presentation" between them, so the dog must know basic commands such as "sit", "stay" and "lay down". Otherwise, don't worry; you can quickly teach them to your best friend in certain ways:
- Hire a dog handler. Many veterinarians can recommend a good handler, with locations that even offer socialization sessions and obedience training for puppies. The owner and the dog will not only learn very useful commands, but they will strengthen the bonds between them. The chance that the pet will listen, pay attention, and respond correctly increases if he is comfortable with considering that person as his owner and authority figure.
- Practice the commands with the dog. If you and the pet need some “reinforcement lessons” in relation to the most basic orders, such as “sit”, do the training in a comfortable place (in your house's garden, for example). Practicing these instructions will familiarize him with the cues and be more willing to listen to the owner. Both the dog and you will need to adapt by obeying and issuing orders respectively.
Step 2. Find a neutral space
Neither of the two animals must demarcate territory, especially in the place where they will be presented. Also, you must have control of both in this space, such as the living room or games room. Avoid, however, the rooms where they eat or sleep, which is where they may feel most attached to the territory.
- The two should not feel pressured. A neutral space will allow them not to experience unnecessary stress from outside sources (meeting a new friend is already a lot of anxiety!) Make sure the dog doesn't feel too constrained by a tight collar or chest.
- The neutral space will also help make the owner feel more relaxed. It is important to be comfortable in this place to observe the interactions between pets. In short, choose a comfortable place for everyone involved.
Step 3. Place the rabbit in a safe environment such as the transport cage
For their first date, it might be better for the bunny to stay in a safe space he can't escape from. Also, if something unpredictable happens, he will be out of harm's way.
Step 4. Secure the dog
At presentation, the dog must be under the firm control of the owner. Experts suggest that he sit or lie down so that you can see him up close and can control him without difficulty.
Step 5. Ask a relative or friend to help hold one of the two animals
It's important to have plenty of supervision - and the more hands and eyes to assist, the better..
Method 3 of 4: Introducing Each Other
Step 1. The presentation should be done slowly, without sudden movements or that brings the canine closer to the rabbit quickly
The ideal is to bring one of them to the space where the other is already waiting for them to get used to each other's smell.
- Give them time to get to know each other. Avoid putting pressure on any of them and leaving them scared.
- Be positive and take it easy. Encourage them with pleasant verbal cues, such as “Nice girl” or “Quiet…”; they will hear and react to the tone of your voice, be it authoritative or affable.
Step 2. Bring them together
The next step is to let the rabbit get close to the dog, which can help not trigger the rodent's natural escape instinct, which in turn can cause the dog, also by instinct, to hunt the animal.
- Pay attention to body language during their introduction. If the rabbit is panting, trying to kick or escape, it's best to get the dog out of the room and let the other one calm down. Also, when anxious, the rabbit may sit and cornered, as if it were playing dead. Just because he didn't run away doesn't mean he's accepting the canine's presence; it is possible that the fear is so great that he has become immobile.
- When the dog is very agitated, try to calm him down. Order him to sit and stay for a few minutes to reassure him.
Step 3. Monitor them
Under no circumstances leave the two alone during their first encounters. It doesn't matter how well they seem to be getting along; it's better not to take any chances.
Animals must be prepared for the presentation. Just like anyone else, they can have bad days, so it might be better to leave the introduction for another day if a pet is sick or very nervous
Step 4. Each “session” needs to be very short
Prolonging exposure to one another will make them very excited, increasing the risk of accidental injury to both of you. Keep an eye; if one of them shows signs of stress, it's best to stop the presentation.
Method 4 of 4: Monitoring Interactions
Step 1. Adapt them to this routine
Even though pets don't get along very well on the first date, this is normal; keep doing the introductions steadily until it becomes routine. After a while, they will get used to seeing and smelling each other.
Step 2. Always be aware
Just like children, animals shouldn't be alone! Something can happen, triggering aggressive instincts in the dog, while a loud noise in the street scares the rabbit. Follow them closely to ensure their safety.
Step 3. Each person should eat in a different place in the house
As they are animals that are very attached to the space and time in which they feed, it is better that each one eats in a place in the house. If one of them appears aggressive, it is recommended to feed them at different times.
- Don't forget that animals also don't like to see each other, whether a dog or a rabbit, in areas they feel they own, such as the room in which they sleep or relax. Monitor them when they interact near these points.
- They may become jealous of each other due to the owner's excessive attention to the newly arrived animal. It is important that you show your affection to each one without triggering protective instincts in the other.
Step 4. Be patient
Making new friends can be tricky! Allow time for the pets to get used to the owner, the house and each other.