Why would you force someone to do something when you can just ask them politely?
This is what many animal trainers have been trying to teach the public (and our fellow “old school” trainers and colleagues for years). Thankfully, now we are seeing it happen in almost every species!
Rabbits are one of the many species to benefit from force-free training. Rabbits can be trained to do amazing things! They are incredibly intelligent, clever, and engaging companion animals. They are often underestimated. As their guardians, it’s necessary to provide them with proper medical care, a proper diet, and daily exercise. Some even exercise their rabbits with rabbit agility! You can watch these Agility Rabbits in action here!
It’s also important that we teach our rabbits how to safely interact with you and the other animals in the house, and how to be trusting and well behaved. Force-free training is the answer to all of these goals. However, as frisky and as playful as rabbits are, most do not enjoy being picked up or restrained. Where do you think the phrase “Rabbit Kick” came from? In order to maintain a relationship based on mutual trust, it’s important to train your bunny buddy with positive reinforcement.
Check out this video from Barbara Heidenreich at Bunny Training. It’s a wonderful presentation of a relaxed rabbit getting her nails trimmed, willingly! No force is needed! These simple, effective training techniques can help you to maintain your bond, increase trust, and make simple tasks like nail trims fast, effortless, painless, and easy!
Training Tip: The video demonstrated that by pairing one of the rabbit’s favorite things (head petting) with touching her back toenails, the guardian was able to make nail trimming a pleasant experience for everyone!
This same technique is how I conditioned our 4 cats, turtle, and dog to allow me to trim their nails. They are never restrained. They do it willingly. I ask, and they give! Positive reinforcement training is all about making the process easy and enjoyable for the animal. This helps to maintain a wonderful, trusting relationship between you and your companion animals. And it makes your job easier as their guardian!
Why force an animal to do something when you can ask? Why break the bond and lose their trust by using force? If a rabbit can be taught to offer her nails for trimming, you can teach your cat, dog, parrot, or pig to do the same!
Do you have any medical or behavioral success stories or training techniques that you would like to share? Please post your positive success stories in the comments below!
“Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.” ― Albert Einstein