Fido & Thumper's First Meeting
Almost half of pet owners have at least one dog. If you want to add a rabbit into the mix and keep peace in your house, you should learn how to properly introduce your pets. It is important to remember that rabbits are a prey species. Not natural companions for dogs. Here are a few tips on how to make the introduction process less stressful for all involved.
Part 1: Preparing the Introduction
Practice obedience training. Your dog should be trained well and able to respond to voice commands. It is important that your dog know basic commands like sit, stay, and lie down.
Find a neutral space. You do not want either pet to feel territorial in the introductory space. A good introductory place might be a living room or family room. You want to avoid places where either animal eats or sleep.
Part 2: Introducing the Pair
Put the rabbit in a safe environment, such as a travel cage. For the first meeting, you will want to keep the rabbit in a safe space in which the rabbit cannot run away.
Secure the dog. During the first meeting, you want to make sure you have your dog under firm control.
Ask for help. Ask a family member or friend to help by holding your rabbit or dog. You want the most supervision possible and having an extra set of hands and eyes will work to your advantage.
Introduce them slowly. Do not make sudden moves or throw the two animals together too quickly. You should bring one animal into the room with the other to let them get used to each other scents.
Be positive with the slow introduction. Encourage your pet with positive cues like "Good girl.”
Bring them closer together. The next step is to bring them closer together. You may want to let the rabbit approach the dog. If the dog is acting too excited, take time to calm the dog down by having it sit and stay for a few minutes while she calms down.
Part 3: Learning to accept each other
Keep an eye on them. Under no circumstances, do not leave the two animals alone with each other during the first couple of meetings. No matter how much they seem to be getting along.
Keep sessions short. Long exposure to each other may cause too much excitement. Watch the excitement level of both animals; once one starts to show symptoms of stress, it’s time to stop.
Practice the routine. Practice introducing your pets to each other until it becomes a routine. Eventually, your pets will get used to seeing and smelling each other.
Separate feeding areas. Animals can be territorial around feeding time or feeding areas. Feed your pets in different rooms. Other territorial places may include where the animal sleeps or relieves himself. Keep a watchful eye when the rabbit and dog interact near these places.
They may act territorial toward you. They may grow jealous of the other with your attention. Make sure you show each animal care without riling protective instincts from the other one.
Be patient. Give your pets time to get used to you, your house, and each other.
Enjoy your new family.