Does Clicker Training Work for Rabbits?
In nature, rabbits are busy all day. They forage, build and dig their tunnel system, are engaged in mating games, and raise their young. In addition, wild rabbits live sociably in groups. Rank battles are the order of the day. In the care of humans, the rabbit’s everyday life looks quite different. The rabbit is presented with food, it can build burrows only to a limited extent in cages or enclosures, and it does not usually raise young animals in humans. Since the animals are usually kept alone or in pairs, they do not fight over rank.
So that your rabbit is not bored and begins to suffer mentally and physically from the fact that it is permanently underchallenged, you must keep it as a pet owner species-appropriate and occupy.
In any case, you should equip the rabbit cage and the rabbit run with the best possible employment material. This will meet the needs of the animals.
You can also diversify your pet’s daily life by spending intensive time with him. For example, you can train with him clicker training for rabbits and rabbit hop. How these two “rabbit sports” work exactly, you can learn here in our guide.
What does clicker training mean?
Clicker training can be used to influence the behavior of animals, for example dolphins, cats and dogs, but also small animals like rabbits or guinea pigs. It is especially used in the training of animals.
The clicker is a device that produces an acoustic signal called the “click” sound. The sound is triggered by the trainer whenever the animal exhibits a desired behavior. Animals learn that they always receive a reward in the form of treats immediately after the “click.” Humans use the effect of clicker training that the animal will show a certain behavior much more often if that behavior has been consistently rewarded. Important for the function of the clicker is that its sound is unique for the animals and they associate this sound exclusively with the reward situation.
In target training, which is most often done with rabbits, the trainer uses rewards to get the animal to follow a target stick with its head. Once the animal has mastered the learned behavior, the trainer can use it to guide the animal as if it were on a leash. In addition, the trainer can teach the animal other exercises with the stick.
How does clicker training work with rabbits?
To train your rabbit, you will need a standard clicker, a target stick and treats for reward. The reward must taste especially good to your rabbit. Before rabbit clicker training, it is best to first try out which treats your rabbit likes best. However, make sure that the treat does not contain cereals or sugar. For example, apple or carrot pieces and pea flakes are good treats.
First, make sure your rabbit associates the clicker sound with the treat. To do this, hand the rabbit his treat and the moment the rabbit takes his food, click. Repeat this a few times, then pause and repeat again.
Then you can already start with simple exercises. For example, train the rabbit to listen to its name. Whenever you say your rabbit’s name out loud and he turns to you attentively, click the clicker and reward him with a treat. The better the exercise works after repeating and pausing several times, the greater the distance between you and your pet can be when you call it.
Next, add the target stick. This should tell the rabbit where to hop in the near future. Start conditioning your rabbit right away when it first meets and sniffs the stick. Each time it happens to come to the tip of the stick, click and reward it with a treat.
For the next exercise, call the rabbit’s name and show him the stick. When the rabbit nudges the tip, the reward follows. If this works well after frequent repetition, you can increase the distance again.
For the next more difficult task, slowly move the stick away from the rabbit. When the animal hops behind and nudges it with its nose, it is rewarded again. This sequence is also practiced again and again with pauses.
When your pet has learned to hobble after the target stick, you can come up with new exercises. For example, think up a small course or let your rabbit hop over hurdles. With clicker training for rabbits, you can keep your pet busy in a meaningful way. Training together also has the great advantage of strengthening the rabbit’s bond and trust with you.
What is Kaninhop?
Kaninhop is a sport in which domestic rabbits jump over a certain number of obstacles. They wear a harness and are led by their owner on a leash. Kaninhop has its origin in Sweden. Swedish rabbit breeders began to practice this sport with their animals in the 1970s. Meanwhile there are Kaninhop clubs in almost all European countries. I
Different difficulty classes are based on the different ability of the animals. In the easy class, for example, eight rabbit hop obstacles must be jumped over. They may be a maximum of 25 centimeters high. Rabbits jumping in the highest class must clear twelve obstacles of at least 45 centimeters.
Class competitions are held in the Straight Track, Obstacle Course and Free Jumping competition types. In the straight course, obstacles are simply placed one after the other. Their number and height depend on the individual class. In the obstacle course, the obstacles are placed on a fixed curved track, as in horse jumping. Their number and height also depend on the class. In free jumping, the rabbits jump over the obstacles without a leash. For this purpose, the track or course must be secured in such a way that the animals cannot run away. The winner is the rabbit that passes its course the fastest and with the fewest mistakes.
In addition, in the rabbit hop, competitions are held in point jumping, parallel jumping and elimination jumping. In point jumping, ten rabbit obstacles are set up on a circular track. The obstacles that the rabbit jumps in 30 – 60 seconds without any mistakes are counted. In parallel jumping, two obstacle courses are set up in parallel with at least ten obstacles. Always two rabbits compete against each other. Each rabbit starts against each other. In elimination jumping, there are three rounds with ten obstacles. It can be held on the straight track, on a course and as free jumping. In the first round the obstacles are 25 centimeters high, in the second round 35 centimeters and in the third round 40 centimeters. The rabbits that have not made more than three faults in the previous one move on to the next round.
How does my rabbit learn the rabbit hop?
The most important rabbit training tip is to teach your pet rabbit hops calmly and with fun and perseverance. Your rabbit should associate only positive experiences with this activity.
At the beginning your rabbit must get used to the harness. To do this, put the harness on him briefly several times a day, so that he has enough time to get used to it. Next, attach the leash to the harness. Make sure that the rabbit decides for itself where to go in the beginning. It should not have any negative impressions of walking on the leash. When the rabbit gets used to the leash, you can carefully start steering it. You should never pull the leash in a jerky way, so that the animal is not frightened. If the animal walks well on the leash, you can place it in front of an obstacle that is no more than five centimeters high. If it doesn’t jump on its own, you can carefully lift it over it. You can also try to lure the animal over the obstacle with treats. Each time you want it to jump, call “hop”. This way, the animal will know what you want it to do. When the first training sessions have worked well, you can build up several obstacles and increase them.
Please never overchallenge your rabbit! Respect if he does not feel like jumping. Then postpone the training to a time when he will enjoy the sport with the obstacles again.
If your rabbit does not get used to the leash or does not want to jump, accept his behavior and find another activity for your pet. In terms of animal welfare, it is important that Kaninhop is fun for your animal and that it does not become a compulsion.
With clicker training for rabbits and rabbit hops, you can add variety to your rabbit’s daily routine and keep it active. In addition, you will cause your animal to build up additional trust in you.
In clicker training with rabbits, you use a clicker and treats to get your rabbit to follow the target stick with its head. Clicker training is non-punitive and non-coercive. The animal learns to follow the stick through positive reinforcement in the form of reward with treats.
In rabbit hopping, the rabbit learns to jump over obstacles. Its owner leads it on a leash attached to a chest harness. In this rabbit sport, you as the owner must make sure that your rabbit enjoys the training and jumps voluntarily. You should never force unwilling animals to jump.
Because the competition atmosphere causes a lot of stress for the escape animal rabbit, animal welfare activists oppose participation in competitions. Strange people, many other rabbits and a noisy and unfamiliar environment stress the rabbit. Animal welfare activists have no objections to small obstacles in the run that the animals jump over voluntarily.
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