You should never be judged badly for wanting to have various pets. Still, you should be responsible enough to consider whether the pets in your mind can live together in harmony or not. If you own a dog but planning to get a rabbit, then you might be wondering: can rabbits and dogs get along?
The short answer is yes. Rabbits and dogs, more often than not, can live together without issues. However, your dog and rabbit need to meet a few requirements. You should also be patient while introducing them as the process can be a little bothersome.
In this article, we’ll show you how to do just that.
Rabbits and Dogs: A Possible Relationship
To be completely honest, not every dog will get along with every rabbit. Dogs may not be predators, but they still have a prey drive. That prey drive will differ depending on your dog’s age, breed, personality, and training.
A dog with an overall reduced or “tamed” prey drive will be more likely to get along with smaller animals like Rabbits.
Rabbits, on the other hand, are often the victims of other predators. They are well aware of that, and that’s why they tend to avoid larger animals.
However, some rabbits are a bit less skittish and are more willing to accept a dog as a companion. Checkered and California Giant rabbits are good examples of those.
Can Rabbits and Dogs Get Along?
As we mentioned earlier, Rabbits and Dogs can get along should you manage to make certain conditions happen. Since you’d be usually worried about the dog hurting your rabbit, then most of those requirements would target the dog.
The Dog’s Requirements
Here’s what your god should have:
The Right Breed
For starters, the breed of your dog should have a relatively low prey drive. Hunting dogs are also a little too aggressive and might end up injuring your rabbit.
Here’s a list of dogs that are good candidates for having a bunny companion:
- Golden Retrievers
- Boston Terriers
These dog breeds don’t lack energy by any means. However, they’re more willing to obey their owner and shouldn’t pose much of a threat to your rabbit.
On the other hand, here are a few dogs that may not be the best choice as a rabbit companions:
- German Shepherds
- Siberian Huskies
- Alaskan Malamute
While these dogs can have rabbit companions, the process of getting them along will prove to be challenging.
The Correct Attitude
Even if you have the right breed, dogs within the same breed have different attitudes and personalities.
If your dog is often fussy, destructive, and generally risky to have around children, then it’s best not to have a pet rabbit.
The Proper Training
A good breed and personality won’t mean much if you have an untrained dog. You have to give enough attention to the training of your puppy or adopt an already-trained one.
Social training is what matters most in this case. Your dog should be trained to not be aggressive against creatures that he sees for the first time.
The dog should also be trained to stop whatever he’s doing if you ask him to. As long as your dog and rabbit don’t trust each other 100%, then there’s a chance he might attack the rabbit.
Should that happen, your stop command should override your dog’s attack decision.
The Rabbit’s Requirements
Rabbits are smart but aren’t as intelligent as dogs. Their training also isn’t as sophisticated.
With patience, you can teach them some fetch and spin tricks, but they aren’t as essential as the dog’s training.
That being said, all you’d need is to get an outgoing, confident rabbit. Shy rabbits and ones that take too long to get used to you aren’t good candidates to be around dogs.
Introducing the Dog and the Rabbit
Whether you managed to meet all the requirements or not, the process of slowly introducing your rabbit to your dog is a must. This step is gradual and can take anywhere between a few days to a couple of weeks.
Your dog must be already used to you and trained to obey the sit and lie down commands. Then you should head over, bring your rabbit in its cage, and do the following.
1 – Allow the Rabbit to Adjust to Your Home
Before introducing your rabbit to your dog, you need to give your rabbit some time to get used to his new home.
Your house is full of new lights and stimulants that may be a bit stressful for your rabbit. It’s important to give your rabbit some time to get used to all of that.
Allow the rabbit to leave the cage and roam a little in its room. You may sit calmly and quietly in the same room to allow the rabbit to get used to you as well.
Don’t discard the cage or take it away from your rabbit’s sight. Your rabbit needs to feel that he has a home to come back to whenever he’s too stressed.
2 – Let the Dog Get Used to the Scent
Your dog will instantly realize that there’s a new animal in the house. Whether it’s by seeing the rabbit or smelling it; your dog’s curiosity will spike.
It’s best to prevent your dog from interacting with the rabbit while it’s too excited. So, keep your rabbit in a separate room to allow your dog to get used to the scent.
You may allow your dog to see the rabbit while he’s in the cage, but no close interaction just yet.
Keep in mind that you don’t need to do the first two steps separately. You can easily allow your rabbit to get used to the house while allowing your dog to adjust to the presence of the rabbit as well.
3 – Introduce Them Through the Cage
Make sure that your rabbit’s cage is securely locked, then carry the cage with the rabbit inside to your dog. Try not to make sudden movements or voices since both animals will be a little cautious.
Place the cage on the floor and allow your pets to see each other. Dogs and rabbits explore their surroundings through their sense of smell, so you can expect quite a bit of sniffing to go around.
If your dog gets too excited, give him the “sit” or “lie down” command. Should they not work, then take the cage away and try again tomorrow.
This is usually the toughest step, and it could take up to a week, so be patient.
4 – Start Opening the Cage
This step might not be as tedious as the last one, but it needs your supervision. This is when you’d open the cage and let your dog and rabbit interact with each other.
Before opening the cage, ask your dog to lie down. This submissive position hinders some of the dog’s energy and makes the dog smaller and less of a threat to the bunny.
Keep an eye on your dog’s tail. If it starts wagging a little too much, then you should calm down the dog or move the rabbit away.
The scenario you’d want is having both animals touch and interact with each other without issues. If you notice any aggressive behaviors from your dog, then take the bunny away and try again in a few hours.
5 – Supervise for the First Few Days
Once your successfully bond your dog with your rabbit, keep an eye on both of them for the next few days. Don’t let leave them alone without supervision until you’re 100% sure that they won’t attack each other.
Even then, it’s still best not to let them be around each other completely unsupervised.
What Does a Bond Between a Rabbit And a Dog Look Like?
A successful bond between a rabbit and a dog doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be best friends. Your main goal from the bonding process is to prevent the dog from hurting the bunny.
However, how would they interact with each other later on is hard to predict.
For example, the successful bond might come in the form of complete ignorance. The bunny won’t mind being around the dog, but it also won’t interact with the dog at all.
On the other hand, you may find an unusual bond between the two. Unfortunately, there isn’t a clear indicator of why or how this happens. However, besides the requirements we mentioned earlier, you can increase the chances of a close bond by applying these few tricks:
Aim for a Similar Size
Bunnies will be less afraid of dogs of similar size, and dogs’ prey drive won’t activate too much if the prey’s size is close to theirs.
That’s not an absolute rule, though. Some small-sized dogs like Chihuahuas can be pretty feisty despite their tiny appearance.
There are various videos online of Chihuahuas lashing out randomly at their owners. You don’t want that near your bunny.
Have an Adult Dog
Adult dogs have a lot less spontaneous energy, especially if they’re well-trained.
Introducing your bunny to an adult dog will result in a safer and quicker bonding process.
Avoid Stressful Situations
A home with a lot of stress isn’t the best candidate for having pets in general, let alone a rabbit-dog combo.
Homes that have many arguments and a lot of noise are stressful even for us humans. Animals feed off our energy, and too much negativity often leads to aggression.
Rabbits and dogs can live together, but you’ll need a few steps to improve the chances of that. Start by selecting a dog that’s tame and friendly, preferably with a low prey drive.
Your rabbit should also be relatively large and outgoing to ease up the bonding process.
Once you introduce them together, make sure to keep an eye on them whenever they’re alone to prevent any accidents.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Film/Video/Media Studies, as well as an associates degree in Communications. I began producing videos and musical recordings nearly 15 years ago. I am a guitarist and bassist in Southwest MI and have been in a few different bands since 2009, and in 2012 I began building custom guitars and basses in my home workshop as well. When I’m home, I love spending time with my three pets (a dog, cat, and snake) and gardening in my backyard. I also like photographing wild birds, especially birds of prey.