Wednesday, February 11, 2015
Rabbit Enrichment with Behavior Training
Guest Blogger: Laureen Dzadovsky
Originally published in a Chicago House Rabbit Society newsletter
Rabbits are quite fascinating. As we learn more about them, we find ways to enrich their lives as well as enriching our own. Bunnies respond very well to positive reinforcement - typically in the form of treats although your rabbit might respond to being petted, pellets, lettuce or some other type of treat. You may have heard it said that bunnies need playtime not only for the physical exercise but also for mental exercise. Another way to exercise their minds is through behavior training (aka clicker training) to challenge and stimulate them. Spending time with your bunny while working on behavior training can be a wonderful bonding experience for you both.
Behavior training can take on many forms and can be geared towards your bunny’s personality. A very active rabbit might do well with jumping on and off a box or back and forth over a jump. A more timid rabbit may respond well to a desensitization type of training where you would use the training to get your rabbit used to being groomed or having his nails clipped or going in and out of the carrier.
I have begun the process of training my bunny to help him out of his comfort zone and get him out playing a little more. It takes a combination of clicking and treating that is quick and requires some coordination but after a few tries it can be just like second nature. Since I’ve started working with him, he has decided to add in his own extra behavior (which I now make sure he does fully before I give him his treat!) of turning in 2 circles when I close his play area for the night. I look forward to future training with him because it’s been such a rewarding experience for us both. And who knows, maybe he’ll be doing obstacle courses next!
There are so many other aspects to behavior training other than targeting. Bunnies can recognize cues, they can be lured with a treat, they can learn to discriminate between objects and plenty more. It just takes a little time, a little patience and an interest in enriching your bunny’s life (as well as your own!) to see progress.
For more information about rabbit behavior training visit: