Establishing the trust of your new pet rabbit can be difficult, especially if it is a rescued animal that has been neglected, abused or abandoned by its previous owners. Even when the animal comes from a healthy environment, rabbit-human bonding is not something that can be forced.
Sit Quietly In His Space
Sit in (or near) your rabbit’s primary living space and just wait. Resist the urge to reach out to him. Let him come to you. This may take days, a week or even longer depending upon his past experience with humans. It helps to bring a rabbit-safe vegetable as a treat. If he won’t take it from you when you hold it out, drop it on the ground far enough in front of you that he feels safe grabbing it before he retreats. Some rabbits won’t even come near people to get a treat, so you may have to leave it there for him to get later.
Whatever the case with your pet rabbit, give him the respect he needs by allowing him to approach you when he is ready. As long as his approaching you is never a negative experience, he will begin to investigate you more each time you are there. Never chase him. Chasing your rabbit will make him think of you as his predator. It will have the opposite effect of what you are trying to accomplish.
Rabbits groom one another when they are bonded. Humans can use that same technique to establish trust by petting the rabbit’s head. When your rabbit begins to put his paws on you and feels safe with you touching his head, you can slowly begin to start petting him.
After awhile, he will come to you, place his paws in front of his body facing you and lower his head. Bonded rabbits assume this same position when they want to be groomed by their partner. Seeing your rabbit do this with you is evidence that mutual trust is being established. He will let you know if he is not comfortable or when your petting time is up.
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