Dogs and small pets

Posted by sarah
May 26, 2009
I have two dogs a collie/german shepherd cross dog and a spaniel/collie/and many other breeds bitch. The bitch loves to chase rabbits but she does leave our hamster alone, even when it escaped and ran onto her bed.

My daughter is desperate to get rabbits which we would keep in a large fenced run in the garden and I just wondered if anyone has any tips or advice on how to introduce the dogs to the rabbits and to get the dogs to leave the rabbits alone. Is it possible to make some rabbits "Not prey". I know people who have had dogs that leave their own family cat alone and still chase other cats, so I am hoping this can be applied to rabbits as well.

Any advice would be very welcome.
Thank you.
Posted by KOPsarah
May 27, 2009
Hi sarah,
I have a herding dog (blue heeler) and bunnies, although my dog will hunt and chase wild rabbits and mice he does not chase my rabbits even when one got loose (similar to your situation with the hamster). Once the dog realizes that the rabbit is part of the pack they should be fairly safe with each other however make sure that at no point you set your dog up to fail by leaving it in a situation where the dog is highly tempted and has the opportunity to get itself in trouble. How you introduce them is important, make sure the rabbit is always treated as the more dominant animal for example you feed it first, give it attention first while ignoring the dog etc. When the dog is brought near the rabbit reward and praise calm behavior. If the dog becomes excited immediately remove it from the situation, either get it to move away and sit or remove it to another area.

Also make sure the rabbit run is made of strong square mesh and has a roof and floor. This prevents both your dog and neighboring dogs and cats getting in, as well as making sure the rabbits stay in (they are very good at digging long escape tunnels if there is no mesh floor).

If you have any further questions about your dog or rabbits don't hesitate to ask.
Posted by sarah
May 27, 2009
HI sarah

Thank you so much for your reply. It is very helpful. I will try out the methods you suggest and I am sure that it will work well.

With best wishes