Housebreaking rabbits: Here’s how in 5 easy steps
Housebreaking rabbits can work if you go about it the right way and keep a few things in mind.
Patience is also required.
However, this patience is undeniably worth it, because housetraining comes with some benefits, saves time and effort in the long run.
In this article we will show you how to housebreak your rabbit in 5 easy steps.
The benefits of housetraining rabbits.
When your rabbit is housebroken, it has several benefits.
You no longer have to worry about the animal shedding droppings or leaving puddles all over the place when you let it run free indoors. In the outdoor enclosure, cleaning will be much easier and you won’t run the risk of constantly stepping in feces.
Cleaning in the rabbit cage is also easier, because you only have to clean the rabbit toilet or change the chosen bedding. This not only saves effort and time, but also money.
In addition, your rabbit also stays cleaner. This is because damp wood shavings are a problem, especially with long-haired breeds, and can stick together, create knots and even lead to sores.
By cleaning your rabbit’s litter box daily, you can prevent this very easily.
It also makes it easier to collect fecal samples or even monitor how much feces and urine your rabbit is passing. If there are any changes, even though everything remains the same in terms of diet, this is a possible sign of a disease.
This allows for early detection and treatment, which greatly improves the chances of recovery.
Now, before you learn step by step how to housebreak your rabbit, we will first show you the prerequisites needed to do so.
Requirements to get your rabbit housebroken
Choosing the right rabbit litter box
Small cat toilets with a flat edge or special rabbit toilets with an entrance are suitable as rabbit toilets. The frame is lower on one side, so that your pet can get in and out more easily.
This is useful for very small and young animals or rabbits with movement restrictions, for example due to arthritis.
Quantity and location
Rabbits use feces and urine to mark their territory. They therefore want the excreta as far away as possible from their own roosting place and dissolve in different places.
Therefore, offer several rabbit toilets in different places in the free run or enclosure.
In the cage or hutch, the toilet should be as far away from the sleeping area and food as possible.
It is also best to ensure that the toilets are located at the edge of the territory and as quietly as possible.
Many rabbits grasp housetraining more easily if the bedding in their toilet is different from that in the cage or hutch.
If you cover wood chips in the cage with straw, it is enough to leave it out in the toilet.
Alternatively, use straw pellets, which swell and disintegrate on contact with liquid. However, make sure that your rabbit does not eat them. They can cause intestinal distress and are not suitable for consumption by rabbits.
To find out which litter is best accepted by your rabbit, you can provide each toilet with a different litter variety. This will quickly reveal preferences and you can determine, for example, which litter binds odor best.
Caution: Never use cat litter! If your rabbit eats it or, in the case of clumping litter, accidentally smears and licks its paws with it, there is an increased risk of constipation or intestinal blockage.
Age of the rabbit
With the onset of sexual maturity, marking behavior begins in males and females.
They therefore use their urine in particular to mark out their territory for others to see. Rabbits are able to reproduce from about the third or fourth month.
Before this developmental stage, the animals cannot yet control their bladder and intestines for a long time. Therefore, the toilet should always be in close proximity so that it is easy to reach.
As the animal ages, bladder and bowel control increases. The animal can hold in longer and may not need as many release points. However, there is increased marking behavior, some of which involves splashing urine.
Training intact (unneutered), dominant rabbits to be housetrained is therefore a difficult undertaking or may even prove impossible. Nevertheless, with toileting and good conditioning, you can achieve that at least the frequency of marking will decrease and thus the environment will be spared.
Younger animals generally learn a bit faster and easier. This does not mean, however, that you cannot house train an older rabbit as well. However, it may require a little more patience, just as it does due to individual differences. Nevertheless, the following instructions will give you the best chance for continued success.
Housebreaking rabbits in 5 steps
In this chapter, we will now tell you the 5 steps needed to get your rabbit housebroken.
Let’s get started!
Step 1: Observe your pet
In order to be able to specifically put your rabbit on the toilet or lure it when it needs to go, you must first recognize the signs.
Watch your rabbit’s body language very closely when he urinates or defecates.
Usually, you will be able to detect a movement of the flower. The rabbit may sniff beforehand and turn a little.
Study this behavior as often as possible. This is the only way to make a targeted intervention at the right time.
Step 2: Implement scent marks
When your rabbit has defecated outside of the toilet, surround the droppings and bedding with urine.
This will place scent marks in the rabbit’s toilet and invite it to use the bowl.
Step 3: Position your rabbit on the toilet
If you have studied your rabbit’s body language, you can place it on the toilet or lure it onto it well in advance of droppings or urine.
Take this step as often as possible to reinforce the behavior and teach your rabbit that loosening up in the bowl is desired.
Step 4: Reward
Once your rabbit loosens up on the toilet, reward it with an appropriate treat.
However, wait until it is completely finished and do not disturb it while it is going to the toilet.
Step 5: Repetition
Repeat the above steps as often as possible. This will reinforce the behavior in the long run.
However, accidents can happen from time to time. You should not scold or otherwise punish your pet. Try to give positive reinforcement throughout and reward the rabbit as often as possible at the right moment.
Normally, it is advised that the reward of a treat be given gradually less often. However, since rabbits defecate and urinate regularly, you won’t be able to reward every visit to the toilet anyway.
Therefore, apply rewards frequently and for a long time every time you observe loosening on the toilet. This will reinforce the conditioning and allow it to be recalled even under stress.
Frequently asked questions
Finally, we would like to give you the answers to frequently asked questions from our readers and viewers.
What if the rabbit suddenly becomes unclean?
If your pet was reliably housebroken and is now unclean again, this can have various causes.
Diseases, such as bladder stones or cystitis.
negative experiences on the rabbit toilet
So it may be enough that your rabbit has been frightened in a toilet or does not feel safe in this place and avoids loosening on it as a result.
Nevertheless, pay attention to the frequency, quantity and odor as well as the consistency of feces and urine in order to exclude health causes or to notice them early and have them treated.
What rewards are appropriate for cleanliness training?
Offer your rabbit something special that it doesn’t usually find in the food bowl.
Good choices include:
small apple pieces without peel
thin slices of banana
The important thing is that it is a special treat that your rabbit will gladly accept and only get on this occasion.
It doesn’t have to be the healthiest choice, as long as only a very small piece is given at a time – so the amount is limited.
Can I use existing toilet corners?
Yes, of course you can°.
If your rabbits already have a preferred place to defecate, you can position the toilet right there. In cages, a triangular toilet is a good choice. It takes up less floor space, is easier to integrate and easy to empty.
How big should the toilets for rabbits be?
In any case, the bowl, cat or rabbit toilet should be large enough so that your pet can easily fit inside and turn.
Three times the size of the animal is a good guide.
How often do rabbit litter boxes need to be cleaned?
The frequency depends on the number of animals and toilets.
In any case, cleaning should be done at least once a day if the rabbit toilet has been used. If there are few toilets and several animals, a frequency of twice a day is better.
In addition, the bowls should be replaced after prolonged use. This is because the concentrated urine of rabbits settles in the plastic and gives off an unpleasant odor.
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