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Rabbits/Proper Training?

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Question
Hello,

I have a two year old neutered male house bunny.  I recently moved to a larger place where instead of a small cage he gets his own large under the stairs closet (door is always cracked for easy entry and exit.  He seems much happier here and was doing very well adjusting.  After about a month of good behavior he started acting out a bit.  It began with him just pooping right outside his box. It never seemed to be a problem so I just moved the pellets back into the box.  However, he started to get slowly worse until he pretty much just pooped everywhere in the closet; where he ate, drank, and slept it didn't really matter.  On a side not he never has peeing accidents and very rarely poops anywhere else in the house.  There was one spot he fixated on, and I just set up a gate for now, and he seems to have lost interest.

However my question is how I am handling his training behavior.  Since I can't be with him at all times I have set aside an hour after work.  I go into his closet with him and just sit with him while he eats (I play on my computer).  If he slips up I put it in the box, and when he gets in the box I praise him(sometimes with treats).  By the end he normally is doing much better.  However, when I am not sitting in there with him he goes back to pooping everywhere again.

Please help, I can't sit in my closet forever.

Answer
Dear Megan,

Hmm.  This is a tough one.  I wonder if he's feeling lonely, and so is marking his territory out of boredom and frustration.

Since he's neutered, why not consider letting him pick a pal from among the spayed girls at your local rabbit rescuer's foster home.  Two rabbits can actually be *less* work then one, since they entertain each other and keep things happy when you're not around.

I've found that bonded rabbits are less destructive and healthier than singletons.  It's not a 100% guaranteed cure, but I will bet this will help.

It might be worth a try.  Contact your local rabbit rescuer via:

http://www.rabbit.org/chapters

Hope this helps.

Dana

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Dana Krempels, Ph.D.

Expertise

I've lived with companion rabbits for more than 35 years, and consider them members of my family. I can answer any questions about the biology and health of rabbits, from the commonplace to the unusual. But please note:

RULE #1:
THE INTERNET IS NOT THE PLACE TO SEEK HELP IN AN EMERGENCY.

...it is an EMERGENCY.

Find a rabbit vet at www.rabbit.org/vet for immediate help, and don't risk your bunny's life by spending time asking questions online! If you can't get in touch with your vet, read these Emergency Sick Bunny Instructions.

If you have found a wild baby rabbit, please read these EMERGENCY INSTRUCTIONS FOR WILD BABY RABBITS and then use this link to FIND A LOCAL WILDLIFE REHABILITATOR who can give you the right advice.


RULE #2:
Help me help you! Please make your subject line informative if you have an urgent question. then LET ME KNOW IN THE SUBJECT LINE so I can give your question highest priority over non-urgent questions. If you don't do this, then I can't guarantee timely assistance!

For all the best, most accurate rabbit health, care and behavior information, visit The House Rabbit Society.

Experience

I have been rescuing and rehabilitating domestic and wild rabbits for about 30 years. I have written articles for many rabbit rescue publications, as well as for the veterinary journal, Exotic DVM. I own EtherBun, the internet's largest listserve dedicated to health, care, and behavior of domestic rabbits.

Organizations
Houserabbit Adoption, Rescue, and Education, Inc. (H.A.R.E., Inc.) president National House Rabbit Society (Board member)

Publications
Exotic DVM
Warren Peace (Journal of the House Rabbit Society of Miami)
Various newsletters of the House Rabbit Society, nationwide

Education/Credentials
Ph.D - Biology
B.S. - Biology
B.A. - English

Awards and Honors
Lightspan Academic Excellence Award for web site on rabbit health and biology
(http://www.bio.miami.edu/hare)

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