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Post by sublackburn01 on Tue May 17, 2016 12:37 pm

Hi everybody
I have just recently joined and would appreciate any suggestions regarding the handling of my bunny. You need some background info!
Georgia is a netherland dwarf, we think! She was found running around a car park in April last year. She was rescued by my daughter's partner who thought he would be able to rehome her. Cutting a long story short this didn't happen so they decided to keep her. After a few months and for various reasons they felt she wasn't getting enough attention, space to run around etc. I said I would look after her because I have an unused garage which would house the hutch and I've attached a pen/enclosure so she's ample room. I am retired so can give her plenty of attention. This happened in January. She is a lovely bunny, likes me to stroke her when she wants, but it is so difficult to pick her up when this is necessary i.e when I took her to the vet's for health check prior to having her spayed. I have recently been sitting in the enclosure with her. She comes to me but runs away when I attempt to stroke her. At the moment she isn't interested in treats but will occasionally take a dandelion leaf or kale from me. I realise that she should have been handled more right from the start and wonder if it is a bit too late now. We think she is about 16 months old. I would really appreciate any suggestions or advice especially from someone who's been in a similar position. Many thanks. Su

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Re: Just joined!

Post by gemma997 on Tue May 17, 2016 12:54 pm

Most rabbits don't like getting picked up, try herbs parsley is a good one not met a bun that doesn't like it.

Associating being handle with good things(usually food) and lift her then put her back down so she doesn't associate getting lifted with getting put in for the night, vet trip etc...

Xxx
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Re: Just joined!

Post by sublackburn01 on Tue May 17, 2016 1:37 pm

Hi Gemma
Thanks for your reply and yes she does like parsley. Unfortunately she isn't very interested in taking food from me. She struggles so much and kicks out when I try to lift her and I feel like I am just 'grabbing' her. I tried a daily picking up session for about a week prior to visiting the vet but at the time I found it counter productive because she seemed not to want my strokes afterwards! She grunts occasionally when I stroke her and has been known to nip although this doesn't break the skin. It is 3 weeks since she was spayed and I was hoping that this would calm her down a bit.

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Post by iiisecondcreep on Tue May 17, 2016 1:59 pm

Welcome to the forum Wave

Echo what Gemma said, none of my buns have allowed themselves to be picked up easily (except Philip but *only* when he wants up on the sofa), I just have kinda established techniques for the various essential handling tasks so its over as quickly as possible. Getting them in the carrier I just plonk it in front of them and whisk them in before they know whats happening! For things like nail trims I just take them to the vet, its easier and less stressful for all involved. There are ways of holding them that can help (I tihnk there is a thread on here somewhere actually), basically make sure they are held firmly and securely with legs and bum supported. But some buns will still fight to get away.

Sitting in the enclosure and feeding her treats is the best way to gain her trust, they are nosey creatures!

Have you thought about getting her a friend?
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Post by sublackburn01 on Tue May 17, 2016 2:31 pm

Hi and thanks for your reply
I will continue to sit in the enclosure with her and maybe with time and patience she will start to accept treat type food from me. I have read so many articles and watched so so many videos on how to handle rabbits, especially how to pick up, but it just doesn't seem to happen in practice!! Many years ago my daughter had a rabbit and although she didn't like being picked up she didn't struggle as much as Georgia. In those days we were told to pick up by the scruff and support the bottom which I found easier. I thought this method was frowned upon now but my vet said it was ok. I have thought about getting a friend for her but I'm concerned that it might not work out as she's been solo all this time. Su

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Post by c.bolduan on Tue May 17, 2016 8:44 pm

Hi Su and Georgia. Warm welcome!
All the above is right
Not many of my bunnies like being picked up its their instinct being a pray animal.
Regarding handling and stroking her it may help to get a soft brush and try to get her used to hands coming closer without direct contact.
She will need to build trust and this can take time.
Where did your daughter get her from?
Have a look on RWAF website there are many useful tips there
Also a few good books are around paper and download there is a recommendation on one if the links here.
Please keep us posted.

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Post by woodwench on Tue May 17, 2016 11:32 pm

Hiya, welcome.
It does take a couple of months to get hormones under control after spaying so she could still be under their influence still and they will help make her territorial/feisty.
You may have got her suspicious after trying to so often to pick her up, especially if she struggles and you hold on. So you might need to build some bridges.
To help make her more friendly play on her love of food and her curiosity. Try sitting in the garage with her and either talk to her or read a book aloud. That will get her used to your presence and your voice and if you don't try to touch her she will gain trust. After four or five days of that try lying flat on the floor with food strewn near you and, still talking quietly, put some food stuffs on your body. Be prepared to lie there a while but she will come to investigate you and the food and when she does DO NOT try to touch her just leave her to do as she wishes.
Starting to touch her should be when she is eating, don't offer her food and try stroking her, wait till she is enjoying the food the put the back of your hand and wrist up against her side gently... like you are another rabbit lying beside her. You may feel her lean against you in which case press back in return, lightly. It isn't a big step from this to stroking ...

You may never have a rabbit that enjoys being picked up but with patience you could have a very loving bun who will climb all over you on the floor or leap up with you on the sofa.
I have always made a travel box part of my rabbits everyday environment. Let them use it as a hidey place, leave food in it for them .... keep it as a fun thing then on days when the vet has to be visited you can wait until they are inside and quickly close the door.
It's not good to scruff a rabbit. They are not carried around by the scruff by their mothers ... in fact they don't really have a scruff in the sense that a cat or dog does.
A friend would be good for her, nearly all buns thrive on opposite sex companionship but bonding can be a long and sometimes problematical game. I would concentrate on building your relationship with her and learning all you can about rabbits before thinking about a companion.
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Post by c.bolduan on Wed May 18, 2016 11:31 am

Well said Dee!
Lots of good tips here.

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Post by sublackburn01 on Wed May 18, 2016 12:01 pm

Hi and thanks for the last couple of postings and the welcome!
On reflection I do think that my attempts at picking Georgia up on such a regular basis has created more problems than it was intended to solve. All done with the best of intentions but I now have to regain her trust. I watched the video regarding the use of a soft brush which I might try. When I open up the garage first thing in the morning she usually comes hopping over for a stroke. Her on the inside of the enclosure and me leaning over from the outside. This morning I took all her toys and play tunnel out of the enclosure and just sat in there with her, talking for half an hour. She hopped over my legs and jumped up at my back which she usually does when I clean out the hutch. She wasn't very interested in the greens I had on offer but did have a dandelion leaf. I was able to stroke the top of her head and praised her. I do feel that keeping up this regime will help to rebuild our relationship. I realise that as a prey animal she will not really enjoy being picked up. I am just hoping that with patience I will have a bunny that is happy to interact with me. Thank you to everyone for their suggestions and I'll keep you posted

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Post by woodwench on Wed May 18, 2016 3:29 pm

Another tip... don't give her a whole lot of toys all at once. Too many and buns tend to ignore them. I've found a noisy toy (rattle or with a bell in it) is usually pretty big with them and of course chewing things. The best toy ever for any of mine was a wicker waste paper basket... Clawed loved wrecking it. So a noisy toy and some chewing things plus a hidey place like a tunnel but maybe substitute the tunnel for her travel box (Providing it's a front loader) so she will become happy with it. Once she is confident hopping in and out of it swap it for the tunnel and keep swapping them about to maintain her interest.
Variety is the spice of life...
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Post by jolovesbunnies on Wed May 18, 2016 9:23 pm

A very warm welcome to our happy family love.

Hugs
Jo xx

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Post by sublackburn01 on Thu May 19, 2016 11:37 am

Thanks woodwench and Jo for your postings.
I do have lots of toys for Georgia but change them around so she doesn't get bored. Favorites at the moment are a plastic ball with bell inside and the inside of a toilet roll stuffed with hay. She did lose interest in the tunnel a short while ago but this was rekindled when she was returned to her home in the garage following a few days indoors after her operation. She loves running in and out of it and rolling it around! Su

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Post by woodwench on Thu May 19, 2016 10:15 pm

Oh yes, tunnel-dragging ... Henry used to love that. His tunnels migrated from room to room.
It sounds like you know your bunny entertainment stuff. I think, with a little patience you will win Georgia's confidence and the pair of you will become good friends.
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Post by jolovesbunnies on Tue May 24, 2016 11:07 pm

You are very welcome love.  None f my buns have ever played with toys despite encouragement from me so I can't really add any advice.

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