Leash Train Your Rabbit?

We train our dogs to walk on a leash so we can safely take them out and about but what about our rabbits? Can we train them too?

We love rabbits. Adorable, playful, quirky… - they’re the perfect family companion for many people. We teach our dogs to walk on a leash so we can safely take them out – could we do the same for our bunnies?

Can rabbits be leash trained?

The short answer is with a little patience, yes. However, it’s not going to be quite the same as taking the dog for a walk!

When we talk about leash training rabbits, we do not mean your bunny hopping alongside you. It means you will most likely follow your bunny around as they get to explore larger areas while remaining safe.

How difficult will it be?

As with any animal being trained, rabbits that are calm and willing to try new things will be much easier to train than those who are stubborn or fearful. Patience and understanding is key. After all, they are prey animals who will be highly cautious of new experiences. Positive reinforcement is key at every step of the training process.

What are the benefits?

Quite simply, your rabbit will be able to explore exciting new places and go to other areas with their human! So long as you are certain an area is safe from poisons and predators, your rabbit can safely explore a much bigger world with you there to protect them.

What type of leash?

Once you believe your rabbit may be suitable to attempt leash training, you’ll need a harness that both fits your bunny closely but is still comfortable for them to wear.

A harness which attaches to the leash from the back, as opposed to the neck, is ideal. That way, if the rabbit gets a fright there is no danger of their neck being jerked. These harnesses often look more like little jackets and are stocked by many pet stores.

The steps!

Remember as you start this process that there are no set times – some rabbits may accept it quickly while others may never accept it. Do not force your bunny if they react negatively.

With that said, using safe treats, follow these steps to start leash training your rabbit:

1. Earn trust. It’s important to build a trusting relationship with your rabbit so that they learn to trust you and look to you for safety. Play rewarding games with them regularly, give them healthy treats often.

2. Let your rabbit sniff and play with the leash and harness. Give them treats when they interact with them.

3. Place the harness loosely over the back of your rabbit and allow them to either leave it there or shake it off. Treats!

4. When reasonably comfortable with the harness, slip it on but leave it unfastened. If your rabbit doesn’t seem to mind it much keep rewarding them with treats; taking it on and off a few times a time without fastening it. If they struggle move back to step 3.

5. If you’ve had success so far with the loose harness on, put it on properly and fasten it up. If your rabbit reacts negatively, take it off. If not, leave it on for a few minutes several times a day. Continue doing this until your rabbit runs around with the harness on normally.

6. When ready, attach the leash to the harness on your bunny and let them feel very gentle tugs to redirect them every so often. Once you are comfortable, you can move into newer areas slowly. Always keep safety top of mind for your rabbit. Try not to let the leash tangle on bushes or trees where a stuck leash can panic your bunny making them feel trapped.

Leash training your bunny will no doubt open up a much bigger world with new activities that the two of you can enjoy together. However, if you find in the end your bunny just isn’t comfortable with the training process fear not – bunnies kept safely at home can still develop just as strong a bond with their owners. Every bunny is different – and no bunny out there is quite like yours!

Have you tried leash training on your bunny? Would you give it a shot? Lets us know on Facebook or email us.