If you are interested in Rabbit Farming, Homestead, Family Farm, Backyard, Hobby Farm, or Have a Pet Rabbit and wondering about Rabbits and Dogs living together and their behaviors, we will look at this in-depth. Our Articles Reference an Article w/ Videos, the Majority written by Veterinarians.
How can Rabbits and Dogs Stay Together?
Simply there is not any thumb rule that rabbits and dogs can stay together. Some can stay together and some cannot. Some dogs are very friendly and calm around rabbits. They stay calm to the extent they do not show any kind of prey drive ( aggressive tendencies) towards the rabbit.
Some are so friendly that they can curl up and nap together. While at the same time there are some breeds of dogs that they have the drive in their nature that a Rabbit is, and always will be Dinner.
While considering how to foster the friendship a lot of factors come under observation.
Factors Affecting the Close Rearing of Rabbits and Dog
- Breed of dog
- Individual dog’s personality
- Size of dog
- Rabbit nature
- Control of hormones
Breed of Dog
Depending on the Breed of dog, such as greyhound is known for chasing up the rabbits and is strong in its natural desire to chase rabbits. They even use it in Greyhound racing that they use an Artificial Rabbit they are chasing around the track.
While some breeds are considered herders and they have a strong desire to keep the rabbit in a limited certain area and they nip at the hind leg of rabbit in a certain herding fashion.
While some breeds are known for their hunting skills bred especially for the hunting of small animals like Jack Russel terriers. They used to have Rat Terrier Betting back in the early 1900s, especially in England. How Many Rats could a Rat Terrier kill in a certain time frame? The record is 2500 Rats in 7 Hours. Strong Hunting Instincts.
It is not to say that they never will be friendly to your Bunny, but some natural desires are a part of their genetic makeup. It will be totally foolish to think that dog will overcome its natural instinct, without training have a calm restrained relationship with Rabbits.
Individual Dog’s Personality
A famous breed of dog known as Golden Retrievers is known for its friendly and gentle nature. Even not all of them, will be able to do well around the rabbits and it can become quite dangerous., for the Bunnies.
Some may show nurturing and pity towards a rabbit, and at other times cause injury. Some will herd the rabbit to the point of exhaustion and some will play and cuddle nicely with it depending on its personality.
Each Dog should be considered on an individual basis.
It is wise to look at the personal history of the dog if it is an older adult dog. Was it a Hunter, been a pet, with children. Other living arrangements where it had to show restraint.
Size of Dog and Rabbits
Actually the size of the dog does not matter. Large-sized dogs may be friendly and gentle. and little dogs can be dangerous and very aggressive toward smaller animals.
Similarly, it does not matter to the size of rabbits. Some big rabbits are calmer and gentle while the small rabbits have more confidence, and are aggressive, kick and mount to show aggression.
An Aggressive bunny might try to mount the dog in a display, of being playful, or even dominance. Hopefully, the Dog will handle it well. But a Bunny Humping your leg can be annoying. We can not go by the size of either animal.
Nature of Rabbits
Naturally, some rabbits are more terrified by the dogs. Nevermind, how kind and friendly your dog is, the rabbit will never it his friend, and might always have the fear of harm. Possibly our bunny had some bad experience with the dog before it came to you.
And it might be possible your rabbit is nervous in general. Whatever the case, Your rabbits should not be terrified in their own living space you have provided for them. This type of Stress can lead to many kinds of behavioral and health problems.
You must be familiar with the body language of both rabbits and dogs .
Watching both of their actions when they are together. So that you can gauge their feelings toward each other.
So take your time to make sure there is calm behavior on both animals before jumping into the keeping rabbits and dogs together. Letting them stay together by themselves on their own.
Control of Hormones
Both the dogs and rabbits should be spayed or neutered. Rabbits that are not spayed or neutered are often more hormonal and usually hump the family dog. Similarly, the dogs that are not spayed or neutered have a much higher prey drive and are more likely to go after the rabbits.
Steps to Consider Whether the Rabbit and Dog would be a Good Combination;
Rabbits and dogs can be kept together, but before doing so a series of trial runs, is performed to check their compatibility and whether they are suitable for living together or not.
Some dogs have more prey drive than others. The breed can play a role. But it depends on the individual dog and the person who cares for the dog. It depends on which manner of training a person is giving the dog.
Also the purpose you have for the dog, guard dog, family pet, a companion but Friendly mannered dogs are better suited to be able to get along with Rabbits, without hurting the Rabbit.
Test their Reactions
If a person wants to adopt a rabbit from a source that has a friendly farm dog and has already been with a dog. That would be great. It is then necessary to check the reaction of a dog how it behaves to your new guest. Also evaluating Your Rabbits reaction to the new dog.
This should take place in a very controlled situation and before the rabbit and dog come in contact directly, or for any unsupervised time. It is wise that they spend time indirectly with each other. When the dog recognizes him as a member of the family, then they can be introduced together generally after feeding the dog, making sure the dog is full.
If the dog shows some interest like, the dog is eager to chase, bite, or nip the rabbit then it surely means this is not a good match. Either the dog is considering him as his prey or considering him as a fun thing to chase him down. Either case it is bad for the bunny.
And if the dog shows little interest and lies down after they are introduced, and does his own thing, then it means that it is good to match.
Some dogs are scared of rabbits and may start trembling just on the sight of rabbits
Multiple Test for Reactions
Tests for reactions must be carried for, several times. It must be not be carried at just one time. These tests may be carried on different days. It might take a considerable amount of time, to accept each other as companions..
Don’t Make Assumptions Based on Size and Looks
The Appearance of the dog does not matter. It does not mean that the big dogs are more dangerous and smaller dogs are less dangerous. It totally depends upon how well your dog is raised and which breed it belongs to.
But it would never be wise to leave the dog and rabbit together alone in the home. Some situations like storms or loud noises, a stranger to the door., can elevate the excitement in your dogs and he might focus that on your bunny.
Playful Dogs Can be Dangerous for Rabbits
Some dogs want to play with the rabbits, it does not mean they want to harm the rabbit. But this playing might be fatal to the rabbit. Dogs may consider it a toy and can play with it to the point the Rabbits get hurt.
Consider the Nature of the Rabbit
If your rabbit is nervous and scared of noises, then it would be unwise to keep the rabbit in that environment. Rabbits can die from just being scared. This shows the sensitive nature of rabbits. Just being scared may be the cause of death.
Conditions when Rabbits and Dogs Should be Separated.
Many conditions can arise that the best solution is the separation of dogs and rabbits. Also when they start showing abnormal behavior.
- If either the dog or the rabbit is sick then they should not be kept together. Diseases might be passed between the two. When one is sick it can behave erratically.
- If either of the animals is elderly and suffering from pain, injury, or aches of any kind then it might prove itself deadly to the animal.
- Puppies have sharp teeth and they do not know how to play gently and nip the bunny. Even playing with our puppies they have to be taught not to squeeze too hard.
- It is generally considered that they should be kept in pens together in a single room so that they become familiar with the smell of each other.
- If you are not at home and you are leaving the rabbits and dogs together without any separation, if a problem arose while you were gone could be fatal to your bunny. Best to protect him and let him stay in his pen.
Tips for Keeping Your Rabbit Safe
The following tips should be kept in mind while raising rabbits along with your dog.
- Puppies are smaller and are interested in playing together with toys and they consider the rabbits as their toys and try to play with them and while playing it is highly possible it may harm the rabbits.
- On the other hand, elderly dogs are sleepy and spend time in sleeping. Older Dogs will be less likely to attack a rabbit. Unless your Bunny is in a mood to play and the older dog does not want to be bothered.
- One other way to introduce a rabbit to your dog is to put a piece of meat in the living room and allow your dog to eat it. A person holding the rabbit must be in the same room. In this manner, the dog knows that a rabbit is also present in the room and is not his dinner. This practice may help them develop a more friendly nature between the two.
- No matter how safe is your pen for your rabbits is, they must not be kept alone together. Rabbits, have a tendency to get out and may jump out of their pens or slip through the baby gates. So never put your rabbit in the situation that it gets out and is in reach of the dog especially when you are not around. Bunny thinks it is great and the dog tries to stop it.
- When leaving them alone together it is wise that they each have their own pens, in separate rooms..
Signs that your Dog is Ready to Live With the Rabbit
Here are some signs you can pick up on that your Dog will do well with your Rabbit.
Body language of dogs
- Listening behavior of the dog
- Wagging Tail
- Play bowing between the two
- Acting well behaved when together
- Knows basic obedience training
- Follows your commands
- Mature behavior
- No Growling at Rabbit
- Not Stalking the Bunny
The Science Behind Dogs Living with Rabbits
While thinking that you are going to try, raising dogs and rabbits, the first thought you should keep in the front of your mind. That they are in nature are predators and prey.
Scientifically, dogs can be trained to consider rabbits as a friend, or companion. Opposed to rather than a fun thing to chase down, and catch. If The Dog sees you accepting the Rabbit as part of the family he can be trained to accept that also.
It is very important that your dog is calm and obedient. The right mindsets of the dog being obedient and calm is a must for a successful relationship between dog and rabbit. So when you teach or correct it if it gets too rough, he will learn.
Important Point – In Nature The Rabbit is Prey to the Dogs – so need to overcome that Predator Relationship