People often wonder how to keep rabbits and dogs together in the same house. You often see videos of dogs and rabbits playing and living together but that is not always the case. Rabbits are prey animals who can have a hard time living together with other animals and generally should be kept only with other rabbits.
Dogs on the other hand have always been bred to have a keen sense of sight and smell. They were extensively used for hunting by our ancestors and some breeds are expert hunters themselves. Animals like dogs or cats with a very high hunting instinct often find themselves chasing smaller pets instinctively which can be quite dangerous.
Can Rabbits Get Along With Dogs?
Yes, rabbits can get along with dogs and play well if trained to live in the same environment. It all depends on the temperament of the animals, how they are raised and the environment they are kept in.
Rabbits and dogs inherently are not the best-suited to be kept together, remember rabbits are prey animals and dogs are predators. You must have heard that in the wild dogs regularly hunt and eat rabbits.
This means that rabbits will generally be scared of most dogs, their marking or chasing them around and dogs often chase or rough house rabbits just out of curiosity or playfulness.
Rabbits and dogs can live together if they both are very calm in each other’s presence and remain under their owner’s supervision. They also need to spend time together safely in order to get to know each other and feel comfortable being themselves in each other’s company.
Read on to learn how you can introduce your rabbit to the dog and make sure they remain safe and well behaved during the first few encounters.
How To Introduce Dogs & Rabbits?
Introducing your rabbit to a dog or vice versa so that they can live together can be a real challenge. Both animals can act jumpy the first time they are meeting each other and it its their natural tendency to react to something new.
Introduction between a pet dog and rabbit needs to Slow, Safe & Supervised. Both animals need to securely restrained and interactions have to short at first. Here is how you can go about introducing a dog and rabbit.
Restraining The Pets
While you introduce dogs to rabbits you must make sure that the encounter is as safe as possible. Remember rabbits can be fragile creatures and can get hurt or scared quite easily. It can also be hard to control a larger breed if they start chasing the rabbit unleased.
The best way to do early introductions is to have the rabbit in their cage or habitat so they are secure and have the dog be in the same place while leased.
Bringing Them Close
Once both the rabbit and the dog are both comfortable being in the same room and within view of each other, it is time to bring them a bit closer so that they can be fully accustomed to each other.
We often may not realize but animals like dogs or rabbits have a keen sense of smell that they use to perceive the world around them.
Not only do they need to get used to the sight of the other animal around them, but they should also be completely fine with their scent within their territory.
Keep Distracted With treats
A good way to keep the whole interaction within control is to have plenty of treats on hand for both animals. Treats are a great way to keep your pets calm while introducing them to other animals.
They are also a good way to train them so that they percieve the whole process of bonding with your dog or rabbit as a positive experience rather than being scared or annoyed.
End The Session At The First Sign Of Distress
It is of the utmost importance that you stay vigilant throughout the whole process of bonding your rabbit with your dog. Remember, any encounter can turn hostile really quickly as these animals are predator and prey.
Make sure that you have a careful eye on both your dog’s and your rabbit’s body language and you identify any signs of distress in them. If you feel that everything is not going smoothly and your animals are getting uncomfortable, separate the animals immediately.
The bonding process between dogs and rabbits may take some time so be patient with your animals throughout the process.
Repeat Till They Are Comfortable
Last but not the least is to keep repeating the bonding process everyday till the time that both animals are completely comfortable living with one another.
A good way to understand this by letting the animals free in the room and keeping a close watch on their behavior. As long as both animals are happy to be in other’s company without showing any signs of distress, nervousness or aggressiveness they should be fine even if you find that the dog and rabbit are not interacting too much.
Best Dog Breeds To Keep With Rabbits?
If you are going to keep a rabbit and dog together then you should keep in mind, not all breeds of dogs are suited to living with rabbits. Most dog breeds that are common today have originated from hunting dogs or guard dogs that protected the fields.
It is their natural instinct to hunt and chase after small animals like rabbits. Even the sweetest dogs cannot go against the natural instincts that have been ingrained in them for thousands of years.
The best dog breeds to keep with rabbits are breeds that have little to no prey drive and are generally known to be docile around other pets. Even though dogs from more docile breeds will also need to be trained to be near rabbits, they are less likely to attack or chase after a rabbit. These breeds are,
Golden Retrievers are known for their calm temperament and gentle nature. They are often ranked as the best dog for first time rabbit owners as they are so easy to handle. Golden Retrievers are often employed as aid animals for this very reason.
If they are well trained, Golden Retrievers can get along quite well with pet rabbit and can often live together unrestricted in the same house.
Similar to Golden Retrievers, Labradors are another popular breed of dog that are extremely gentle and obedient. They too can be trained quite easily to live with rabbits without any problems.
Maltese dogs are small in size and considered toy dogs. They are extremely friendly and can be trained quite easily. Due to their small size and chill temperament, people often prefer to keep this breed of dog if they have rabbits at home.
A larger breed of rabbit like a Flemish Giant should have no problem living safely with a Maltese Dog as long as they well behaved.
Any dog from any breed can be a good match for a pet rabbit given that they understand that the rabbit is their friend and not their prey. They should also be well trained to understand their strength and keep their instincts in check.
Best Rabbit Breeds To Keep With Dogs?
The best breeds of rabbit you can keep with dogs at home are usually the larger and calmer breeds of rabbits. Larger rabbit breeds like Giant rabbits can easily be as big as a small dog so they can safely play and interact with dogs without the fear of getting roughhoused.
Larger rabbit breeds easily blend blend in with their dog friends and are much less likely to trigger any prey drive in the dogs. Some of the best rabbit breeds to keep with rabbits are
The Flemish Giant rabbit is one of the largest rabbit breeds in the world. Most Flemish Giants can easily grow up to be as big as a small dog or even bigger.
Due to their size and calm nature, Flemish Giants are an ideal rabbit breed if you want to keep them with dogs as they are less likely to be chased or attacked.
Continental Giant rabbits can grow as big as Flemish Giant rabbits but look quite different. They can also be a great choice for a rabbit breed if you have dogs at home.
New Zealand White
Often called the Golden Retriever of rabbits, the New Zealand White is one of the calmest, most easy to handle rabbit breed out there.
New Zealand Whites are much less jumpy compared to some other breeds of rabbits and can live quite comfortably with dogs if they are trained well.
How To Train A Dog To Be Calm Around Rabbits?
Training your dog so that they be safe with rabbits is essential if you are thinking of keeping them with rabbits in your home. As you already know, dogs and rabbits are polar opposites when it comes to house pets. Dogs are predators while rabbits are prey animals which can make keeping them together really unsafe.
That being said, there are plenty of examples of successfully bonded rabbits and dogs who live together as best of friends, it all depends on the individual animals, their environment and the kind of training the receive. Here is how you can train your dog to live safely with pet rabbits.
- Teach the dog basic obedience training. This will help them authority and behave as you wish around your rabbits.
- Teaching impulse control is also essential. Not only will this help you protect your rabbit from any prey drive that the dog may have, it will also be safer for your dog when you take them out or around children.
- Teaching your dog basic commands like stay, walk, lie down etc will also help you create a safe environment for your dog to interact with your rabbit.
- Get your dog used to being in a harness or leash so that you can keep them at a safe distance from your bunny when you start to introduce them.
- Last but not the lease, always be present and alert every time you bring your dog near a rabbit as it is your responsibility to keep an eye on the doggie and correct its behavior if needed.
What To Do If Pet Rabbit & Dog Don't Get Along?
There is no guarantee that a rabbit and dog will ever bond and be friends even if you train them perfectly. The animals are just to different to get along well all the time. A rabbit and dog not getting along can lead to them fighting, being chased or even bit.
If you feel that your dog and your rabbit are not getting along and are showing signs of distress around one another then here is what you should do.
- House the rabbit and the dog in separate room away from each other.
- Designate different times when the dog and the rabbit gets to roam free so that one can be restrained while the other is out.
- Consider giving your dog obedience training to help control their prey drive.
- Use a muzzle on the dog or keep the rabbit in a safe carrier whenever you have to bring them together.
Usually as dogs and rabbits grow a bit older they tend to calm down and any teritorial behavior or prey drive in them goes down.
Closing Thoughts On How To Keep Rabbits And Dogs Together
Keeping rabbits and dogs together is no easy task, they are polar opposites in what they eat, how they live, how they behave. Getting a rabbit and a dog to be friends and live happily together is incredibly challenging but that does not mean that it cannot be done. Here are some dogs and rabbits that live together without a hitch.
So if you are thinking of bringing a dog and a rabbit together figure out the breeds that are best suited to each other train them well so that they can be happy together. Read some of our other posts on the topic below
- 7 Easy Steps To Teach Your Rabbit To Spin Around!
- The Definitive Guide On Lop Rabbits (Breeds, Cost & Care)
- Beginner’s Guide To Flemish Giant Rabbits (Cost, Care & Ownership)
- The Ultimate New Rabbit Checklist For Bunny Beginners
Until next time when we talk about 10 ways to stop a rabbit from chewing. See ya.