Tag Archives: socialization training

Dallas Development: Day 56

7 Jul

It’s been a while since I updated, but it’s mostly good news. Dallas has continued to blossom into a much happier bunny, although his turf war with Hatter continues. He successfully attended BunnyFest a couple of weeks ago, and even survived a nail trim. 

For a better look at where he is now, I thought I’d use his To-Learn list from my first post 8 weeks ago. Here’s what I said then:

Dallas needs to learn:

  • To not spook at unseen things. It makes his behavior unpredictable, and his tendency to bolt in any direction could be dangerous for him in an unsecured environment.
  • To share his space, to an extent. All bunnies need a safe space, where no humans or other animals are allowed. However, a bunny shouldn’t grunt or charge during feeding time. Dallas will have to learn to tolerate hands in his pen at least twice a day.
  • Where his safe space is. It’s perfectly reasonable for a bunny to spook at loud noises or sudden movements- after all, they’re a prey species. It’s what they do. However, Dallas will need to learn where he should run when he gets scared, so that he doesn’t hurt himself.
  • How to let his silly self shine. He looks like he may be a New Zealand White rabbit, which is a breed known for being silly and sociable. If he can learn that it’s OK to play around the humans, he’ll have no trouble finding a forever home.”

Here’s where Dallas is now:

  • Spooking at unseen things: there hasn’t been a Dallas Dash in 7 weeks. If he spooks now, it’s because something real scared him- too many hands, a loud noise, Hatter’s appearance on the horizon, etc. Less things scare him now, as well. He’s a pro at thunderstorms, didn’t bat an ear at my neighbor’s firework display, and loves to listen to a guitar, even when it’s being played badly. He gets along with kids and women, even brand-new faces, but is a bit wary of men. He responds well to papaya-based bribery, though.
  • Food aggression: I spent a lot of time trying to train him out of this one, but the answer ended up bwing pretty simple. Dallas is ALWAYS STARVING in the morning, no matter how much hay he has available. He no longer grunts or charges a human entering his pen out of fear, but he will race you to his bowl. To beat this, I simply give him his 1/2 probios or other treat immediately, and then use hs distraction to fill his bowl unimpeded. It works like a charm, and everyone ends up fed and intact.
  • Where his safe space is: Dallas knows where his box is. He doesn’t know the command to return to his pen (or more likely, he chooses not to know), but he definitely knows how to get there. He doesn’t frantically run for safety anymore, but he’ll make it clear where he’s headed.
  • How to let his personality shine: oh boy, has Dallas learned this. He’s got to be the laziest bunny I’ve ever met. He’s yet to find a spot he won’t nap in. I’ve seen him asleep under the couch, behind the couch, on top of the couch, under the end table, on an armchair, on his box, in his box, on a pile of blankets in a corner, and perhaps most memorably: stretched out with his furry body spanning underneath a bookcase and a writing desk at the same time. Each nap is preceded by a forceful dead bunny flop. If you haven’t seen these, check out the #DallasDevelopments hashtag on instagram. You can hear his flops across the room. When he’s awake, he’s full of adventure and binkies.

I’m not going to lie- I wanted so badly to keep him. He would have been renamed March (to fit with the theme), and he’d live happily ever after in the living room. Unfortunately, it’s not meant to be. He and Hatter just cannot stand the sight of each other, and both boys have lost more than a bit of fluff at the teeth of the other.

So, now’s your chance. This sweet goofy boy can be yours upon approval from the Georgia House Rabbit Society. They get to make the call on his forever home, but here’s what I recommend as a good fit for him:

  • A calm house. Dallas likes kids, but he doesn’t like chaos. He’ll approach new people, but only if they’re on his level and speaking quietly to him.
  • Carpet. Dallas loves soft things to snooze on. He will sometimes put his head on the tile by the fireplace, but he spend 99% of his days on the carpet or on his blankets. He’s very well litter-trained. He’s never had a pee accident here, and he doesn’t chew up carpets.
  • Room to romp. Dallas isn’t a tiny bunny. He’s long and he likes to stretch out. He also likes to run laps when he’s feeling particularly good. He’s probably around 7 lbs in weight.
  • A house that doesn’t need a snuggle bunny. He’ll sometimes sit on the couch with me, especially if he thinks I have food to share, but he’s not a snuggler. He’ll allow petting on his head and ears, and sometimes on his whole body, but he’s the one to ask for it. Otherwise, you’ll get the bunny butt of shame. He likes to be near people and to watch them, but he’s not big on touching.
  • A place in the action. Dallas gets bored, and when Dallas gets bored, he gets crafty. He knows how to break out of his pen when he wants to go exploring. Plenty of playtime and interaction will keep him content when he does have to be contained.
  • Things to chew. Dallas loves to chew. Willow branches are his favorite, but he’ll also tear apart woven hay toys.
  • Papaya. This is a must. Dallas must have his papaya. It’ll be your best friend too- it’s great for bribery and reassuring purposes. Whenever he is objecting to bedtime, I stand in his pen and shake the bag. He’ll appear in the pen within 5 seconds, guaranteed. He also likes barley and apple treats, but doesn’t care for banana.
  • Patience and love. He’s not perfect, and he takes time to warm up. But he’s worth the time you’ll put in with him. Trust me. He and Hatter turned my house into a war zone divided by a narrow hallway, and I still want to keep him.

So that’s the update. Dallas is doing great, and he’s ready to start finding his forever home. Until then, I post pictures and videos on my Instagram: @zombiesandbunnies, and use the hashtag #dallasdevelopments. Sometimes my bunny sitters use the hashtag too, so it’s a good way to see new photos even when I’m out of town. 🙂

Dallas Developments: Day #8

26 May

It’s been just over a week, and Dallas is definitely a different bunny than when he arrived. He’s far more settled, he’s harder to spook, and he’s more curious about his environment (which has its positives and negatives, if I’m being honest.) He’s got the clicker all figured out, and he’s responding well to the behavior modification. There are some things he’s still working on, but it’s been a good past few days for him.

image

An action shot, as he scales my legs to explore the rest of his pen.

It hasn’t been such a good few days for Hatter, however. My goofy little Rex has always happily played the little-brother to his bond Alice’s schemes. He’s the one who gets caught, but gets away with whatever he’s doing with an adorably innocent pose. He’s sweeter than Alice, who is often too busy to stop for mere affection.

Recently, though, he’s decided that he does not approve of Dallas. He’s been marking outside of Dallas’s bedroom whenever he’s out of his pen, and he’s even chased Alice away from the door a few times. He can’t reach Dallas, but they’ll snort at each other if they catch sight of each other through the 3-fence deep barrier. This has meant some restricted play time for Hatter and Alice, as well as more time with the bedroom door closed for Dallas.

If he were a human, I’d say Hatter is suffering from Middle Child Syndrome. Since he’s a rabbit, he’s being territorial, and honestly, a bit of a brat. I rearranged his and Alice’s pen to put their litter box near the front. That’s cut way down on the marking. I also make sure Dallas’s door is closed whenever the Dastardly Duo are out. There’s now a tenuous peace in the house, and all bunnies are happier.

All of this hasn’t impacted Dallas’s training. In fact, it’s brought to light an interesting personality trait: Dallas WANTS to be around people. Whenever his door is opened now, he’ll run right over if he’s not already waiting by it. He doesn’t grunt at anyone entering the room anymore, but he will demand to investigate shoes. He does get testy if those shoes step onto his blankets, however. Petting is more likely to be tolerated, but he’ll let you know when he’s had enough with a grunt and a quick but deliberate hop away. There hasn’t been a Dallas Dash in days.

If it’s been a few hours since he’s seen anyone, his reaction is more excited. He even threw a binky this morning when I arrived with breakfast. Below is a video of him running over to me this afternoon.  Please excuse the baby voice- that’s my own behavior modification project.

We’re still working on some territorial issues, and he’s still guarding his food pretty intently. He’ll take a treat from my hand about half the time, but he immediately runs off with it all of the time.

His biggest test is coming tomorrow. I’m leaving for a week for a family vacation. A good friend of mine, who is a vet tech, is staying at the house with the Terrible Trio. She had a good introduction to Dallas last night. He investigated her shoes, and then spent quite a bit of time inspecting her scrubs while she sat on the floor with him. She’ll keep up the clicker training and stick to his usual routine. I’m hoping that his new social behaviors hold up while I’m gone. If he can adapt to having a new person around easily, it’ll be a huge leap forward for his adoptability.

I’ll post an update next week based on her reports. I’ll also post any photos she sends me on my Instagram: @zombiesandbunnies. Until then, fingers crossed that the Dallas Developments stay as developments.

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