Bonding With Your Bun
Updated: Jul 1
Bunnies are super social. So why does it take days, weeks, or even months for them to warm up to you when they move into your home? How can you speed up this process, and what should you do if they are aggressive?
Bonding Tip No. 1.
Dedicate your time!
You just brought this little bun to your strange house from its mama and everything it has ever known. How would you feel if that were you? Shy? Scared? Yep. All your bunny needs is time - and I know that you want this to go quickly, but it might take a while! Take 15-30 minutes (or more) every day and just sit with your bunny. Hold a bunny-safe treat on your hand, or place one near you on the floor to entice your bun. Talk or sing to him/her. Trust me, this helps immensely when bonding with your new pet!
Bonding Tip No. 2.
Let your bunny make the first move.
Sit in your bun's cage or in a neutral area and read a book. Play on your phone. Ignore your bunny completely. Eventually, your bunny will come up and sniff you, simply because they're curious! Be patient and don't immediately try to pet him/her.
Bonding Tip No. 3.
Leave the petting and holding for later.
Bunnies really don't love being held or petted, except gentle pets on their forehead. Until your bunny has warmed up to the point where they race up to the front of the cage to meet you if you walk near them, resist the urge to pet them. That just means don't force your bunny to be petted if they don't want to. Don't catch them and hold them just because you want to.
Bonding Tip No. 4.
Most bunnies, if not all, are food-motivated. Treats like dried papaya, black oil sunflower seeds, bits of romaine lettuce, or little carrot pieces are all great motivators! Try making a 'treat trail' and lure your bun toward you with a path made of little bits of their favorite treat(s). Or, place a treat on your knee if you're sitting criss-cross-applesauce and wait patiently for your bun to come get it. You could also try lying down and placing treats in a line from your neck to your belly and see if your bun would stretch up to get each one. Over time, your bunny will come to associate you with delicious morsels and squoosh their nose through the cage bars in excitement whenever you come near!
Aggression Tip No. 1.
Reduce scare factors.
Biting and scratching are normal for a scared bunny. God gave them claws and teeth, and they know how to use them if they feel endangered. Begin by looking around the room/your bunny's area. Are there loud noises (music, loud talking, vacuuming?) Are there lots of people around? Are other pets (cats, dogs, or even other rabbits) in the room? Try turning off the music, removing other pets, and asking people to please give your bunny some space.
Aggression Tip No. 2.
Spay and neuter to prevent biting/hormonal behaviors.
If your bun has lunged to bite you when you put a hand in their cage, that doesn't mean they're aggressive. Your bunny might just be angry that day. They could still be scared by something as small as a loud footstep or a person collapsing into the couch. Remember, bunnies are prey animals and are used to hiding from predators in the wild, which makes them wary. Not spaying/neutering is major cause of bites. Spayed/neutered buns are much less hormonal and will be more relaxed, since they don't feel the need to breed anymore and won't feel threatened if you take their 'mate' (stuffed animal, chewie toy, food bowl, etc) out of their cage.
Aggression Tip No. 3.
Wear thick clothing (e.g. hoodies) to prevent scratches.
If your bunny is a scrabbler and freaks out when you pick it up to trim its nails or groom it, don't let it get away with it! Wear a thick sweatshirt that you aren't fond of so it doesn't get shredded, and when your bunny scrabbles and scratches, let them! Hold them firmly but don't strangle them in your arms. Let them know that
you are the boss, and speak in a clear voice (not too loud!) Believe it or not, bunnies can pick up clues from your tone of voice and will know if you've had enough.
All of these tips will help your bun learn to love and trust you in their new home, the two of you will be best buds in no time!