How to Train a Pet Rabbit
You can train a pet rabbit to observe some basic good behavior inside, train them to show themselves off to their best advantage and more.
Most people don't realize that rabbits can be trained. In fact, rabbits are pretty clever. They have to be to survive all the predators that have them on their favorite foods list.
If you keep your pet rabbit indoors, he probably gets some free time running around while you're around to watch. You can train your pet not to chew on furniture and baseboards or dig at the carpet.
These are natural behaviors for your rabbit, so you need to redirect them to a similar, yet acceptable way to channel these behaviors. For instance, you can give them apple branches to chew on instead of your baseboards.
If you see them trying to chew on the baseboards, tell them "No!" in a very firm voice. Give them the apple branch instead. It may take awhile for your bunny to get the idea, but he'll catch on. Consistency is the key.
If you want to show your pet, you need to get him used to being handled. The judge will check your rabbit's teeth, ears, sex, and set him up in the appropriate pose for his breed. You can train a pet rabbit to hold the pose instead of trying to rush off down the judging table.
Judges appreciate a well-mannered rabbit; it makes their job a lot easier. Practice setting your rabbit up in the pose he needs to use. Most rabbits are posed with their feet set evenly underneath their hips and shoulders, though some, like the Holland Lop, are posed sitting upright.
Other breeds, like Checkered Giants and English Spots, are allowed to run down the table and back so the judge can watch them in motion. Training them the proper way to do this shows them off to their best advantage.
Rabbit hopping is a sport that began in Europe. Pet rabbits are trained by their owners to leap over a jumping course, rather like stadium jumping in equestrian trials. With the rabbits, the owners run alongside them through the course. The rabbit is given points for each jump. This is a really fun way to spend time with your rabbit.
Training a pet rabbit for hopping takes time. You will need a harness and leash for your pet. Get your rabbit used to being on a leash first, and then practice walking about with him. You'll also need to set up small jumps. Start really low at first, and as your pet gets the idea, you can raise them a bit higher.
You can find more information online about rabbit hopping. Some 4H groups are getting involved with the sport and some rabbit hopping groups are forming on their own. You may want to start your own once you get started. The rabbits love the activity, and you get to spend more quality time with your pet doing something fun for both of you.
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