There are many animals out there that get along exceptionally well, especially when you are living on a farm. Dogs, in particular, will even be friendly with cats, contrary to popular belief. However, you may already have a dog and think about adding a rabbit into your family because of how cute and fluffy they are. Not to mention they are reticent compared to other rodents. But… Do dogs and rabbits get along?
Dogs and rabbits do not get along well, but that does not mean it is an impossibility. Dogs are naturally going to be wanting to chase or eat the bunny. Still, in other instances, calm dogs may be introduced to rabbits, especially if they have had experiences with being near or living with other animals in the past. It also may be best to institute this behavior when they are puppies as well.
Since we know it is a hit or miss, we are going to be going over many subjects today, including what dog breeds are best to have when it comes to rabbits, what are the worst dog breeds to have, and how you can both distract and introduce your dog to your bunny. All of these critical points are essential if you wish to have both animals live together in harmony.
Can Rabbits and Dogs Live Together?
The simple answer would be that it is incredibly complicated. There is no specific answer when it comes to having a rabbit and dog living together. Some dogs can live peacefully with rabbits and show no interest in terms of rabbits being their prey. Other dogs, however, will have an instinct to hunt them down and potentially hurt a rabbit.
A good story of this would be when I was a younger child. My rabbit and dog were in the same generalized area, and we left baby bunnies out of their cages for something specific that I do not remember. The very next day, they were gone entirely because my dog decided he wanted a treat. It was disgusting, but unfortunately, these things do happen.
Here are some breeds of dog that are just NOT good to keep around if you have a bunny:
- Beagles (or scent hounds)
- The Terrier breeds (like Airedale and Dachshund)
- Siberian Huskies (or sled dogs)
- Guard dogs with high prey drive (like the Belgian Malinois or German Shepherds)
- Sighthounds (like the Russian Wolfhound, Whippet, and Greyhounds)
On the contrary to this, some dog breeds WILL get along with your rabbit just fine and leave them alone, but of course, there are no guarantees they will not bother them 100%.
- Japanese Chin
- Bichon Frise
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
- Golden Retriever
- Great Pyrenees
Are Rabbits Scared of Dogs?
Some rabbits are terrified of dogs. Some have even died by being frightened, which means they have been scared to death by other animals, such as raccoons, dogs, or raptors overhead. Since they can quickly go into shock, introducing them to any animal needs to be done with caution and in the correct method, which we will go over thoroughly in a moment.
Also, no matter how kind and gentle your dog is, your rabbit may not understand that they are no threat to them. Maybe your bunny had a bad experience before they came to you, or they are generally nervous. No matter what the case is, rabbits, in general, should never be terrified in their own home. You have to think: if you do not want to be scared in your living quarters, they deserve to live in peace as well.
Are There Any Rabbit Breeds More Dog-friendly?
So you may be wondering if any bunnies are more friendly with dogs than others. Many of us know that rabbits are extremely shy and timid creatures, so it would be hard to find some that are friendly towards dogs. Here are some breeds you can try down below:
Will a Dog Kill a Rabbit?
As we learned from above, dogs CAN kill bunnies. But you can take these precautions to help your dog prevent them from eating baby rabbits listed down below.
Distract Your Dog
If your dog is obsessed with trying to chase your rabbit or get into their cage (depending on if they are free-range around your home or not), then you must do the following:
- Remove their attention by placing a treat under their noses. Slowly move the treat over towards your eyes for their gaze to follow.
- Then, you’ll hold the treat up to them and tell them to look at you. Repeat the command if your pup looks away.
- Once your dog successfully gazes into your eyes for longer than 10 seconds, provide them with the treat.
- Continue to repeat the above steps and make sure they hold their gaze longer each time.
- They will eventually learn the command “look,” and you will no longer have to continue giving your dog treats each time.
Take the Edge Off
For some dog breeds, teaching them to ignore your rabbit may be one of the best courses of action to be taken, especially if they will not leave them alone! You will be providing a toy bunny and aim to get your puppy to ignore the toy so they will miss it in real life as well. Make sure to use positive reinforcement with their favorite treat for the best results.
- You’ll then find a toy rabbit and put it in the same room as your pup.
- Keep your dog away from the toy. You can even put a leash on them for safety.
- If your dog ignores the toy, then reward them with a treat.
- Afterwards, take a step forward towards the toy and pay attention to your dog’s body language. You will then distract your dog and offer another treat.
- Continue to repeat this step above by trying new spots for the play bunny until your dog learns to leave the rabbit alone. This should help them understand to go your pet bunny alone in the future as well.
For some canines, chasing is the most thrilling part of rabbit hunting. By removing the rabbit, it denies them the chance to chase. This is potent when your dog is going for a walk, so make sure they are on a leash when you prevent chasing.
- Teach your dog the command “sit” if they have not learned it already.
- Say “sit” and allow your dog to sniff a treat you have in your hand.
- When your dog sniffs your hand, raise it above their heads. Your pup will follow the treat and automatically place its bottom on the floor.
- Command your dog to “sit,” then offer the treat.
- Continue to practice this until they understand that command.
- Leave them in that position longer and longer before rewarding your dog.
- Eventually, take the treat away so that they will understand not to chase it when you see a rabbit.
How Do You Introduce a Dog to a Rabbit?
If you want to keep the peace within your home, you will want to introduce these two animals in a specific way. Here are quite a few good ways to do so down below:
Find a Neutral Space
This space should be somewhere that you can control the interaction between your dog and bunny. Make sure to go to a quiet and calming place; that way, your dog does not get so riled up, and your rabbit will not be frightened easily. It is already intimidating as it is meeting an animal so huge.
Secure the Rabbits Enclosure
You’ll want to place your rabbit inside of their cage before bringing them into the neutral space. Allow your rabbit to be there a half an hour or more before getting your dog in the space. If your rabbit shows any signs of distress, then it is essential to delay the meeting until they are calm.
Signs of distress in rabbits include:
- Biting the bars of their cage.
- Repeatedly circling their cage
- Constant or over grooming themselves
- Displaying altered feeding or toilet behavior
Secure Your Dog
Make sure to place your dog on his or her leash before entering the room.
Ask For Help
If your dog is relatively strong, then you may need help on this part. Either way, having two people there can help tremendously, especially if things go south.
Since the rabbit will have been settled in the general area, it is essential to introduce them slowly. Allow your dog to sniff the cage and visually. Make sure not to make any sudden moves or allow them to access each other in a haste manner.
Make Sure the Visits Are Short
Visitations should be no longer than 10 minutes max. Long-time exposure will increase your pup’s excitement and stress your rabbit out even more than it should.
Keep An Eye Out
It is never okay to leave your dog and bunny alone. You never know what could happen while you are gone.
Introduce Without Barriers
You may or may not want to do this part, but we will be discussing it anyways. Ensure you are taking extreme caution if you choose this route. The dog needs to be tightly secured and kept from interacting freely with the rabbit on its own. This setup will allow the rabbit to interact with the dog if they wish voluntarily but enable them to move away if uncomfortable.
It is essential to watch out for signs of stress in the rabbit. Sometimes, they will freeze up and not move and will not accept the dog as their companion. Other times, your bunny may be breathing extremely hard, which is another indicator. Your dog also needs to understand that they should not get too excited either. If either of these behaviors occurs, postpone the introductions.
Practice the Routine
Although they may not hit it off right away, it is fine to take this slow. Regularly practicing the same routine as mentioned above will help both of your animals to get used to smelling and seeing each other.
Keep Feeding Areas Separate
It is best to keep their feeding separated from one another. You do not want stress and eating to go hand in hand.
How to Separate Dogs & Rabbits If They Do Not Get Along
After the initial introduction, if your dog and rabbit DO NOT get along for the life of them, then the very best thing to do for your rabbit and dog is to separate them. You can do this by putting your rabbit’s cage in an entirely separate room where your dog cannot go.
Other than that, you can place your bunnies cage outside in a fenced area to where nothing can get in or out unless you unlock and lock whatever it is. If you choose to go this route, make sure that nothing else can get in the area, such as raccoons, snakes, opossums, or any other animals that may cause a commotion and disrupt the peace your rabbit longs to have.
To conclude everything we have gone over today, dogs and rabbits have an unlikely chance of getting along, but that does not mean it is not possible. Make sure to use these tips to ensure both of your animals have a higher chance of getting along with one another! If not, then it may be best to wait to get one or the other at different times of your life.