You’ve just brought your new rabbit home, you’ve got all the equipment, you’ve done all your research – but your new pet is scared stiff of you! However, any rabbit can be won over with time and patience by following these easy steps.
1. Understand what rabbits are not.
Because they look like cuddly toys, many people automatically assume rabbits love being hugged and petted, but they don’t. This is an extremely important step; if you try to cuddle your pet constantly, he/she will be terrified of you and you will never be able to make friends.
2. Let your bunny get used to his/her home.
He/she should have his/her own personal space to stay, safe from any threats, at a suitable temperature. Never intrude in your rabbit’s private space; it should be his/her’s castle, his/her’s safe haven. In the meantime, remember to take care of all his/her’s
3. Get him/her used to your voice.
Sit next to his/her cage every day for a few hours, reading out loud, absently chatting while you check your emails, even saying nonsensical words as you do something else. It doesn’t matter what you say; just keep your voice calm, relatively quiet, and friendly. Try not to shout near your rabbit. When you think your bunny is no longer frightened of your voice, go on to the next
step. Remember not to rush it!
4. Remove distractions.
Get everyone and everything that might cause a distraction out of the room containing your bunny – no pets, music, etc. Try to push most of the furniture against the walls for now. Make sure there are no hazards that may harm your bunny, such as trailing cables, small spaces under furniture where he/she may get stuck, etc. It may be a good idea to carry the cage up to the bathroom or another small space and block spaces behind toilets, furniture, etc. for the next steps.
5. Open the door to your rabbit’s cage.
The door must remain open throughout this step, every time you do it. This is so that if the rabbit feels frightened, he/she has a safe place to go to. Make sure he/she can get in and out comfortably.
6. Sit or lie down on the floor, near the cage.
Have a small treat in your hand, such as a tiny piece of apple, a small pinch of oats, or a tiny piece of banana. These foods are treats only and should not be offered often! Do a quiet activity, such as reading, writing, even meditating. Just stay quiet and don’t move around too much or too suddenly.
Eventually, your rabbit’s curiosity will get the better of him/her, and he/she will venture out of his/her cage. Be patient; remember this is a big thing for your rabbit – imagine if you were in his/her situation. As you wait, continue doing your activity. Ignore the rabbit completely. He/she will eventually hop up and investigate. Still ignore him/her. Let him/her sniff you all over. If he/she nips or bites you, squeal to indicate pain, but otherwise stay still and quiet. If he/she finds the treat, let him/her eat it.
8. Try stroking him/her.
When he/she seems absolutely comfortable in such close quarters with you, start talking quietly, reaching out your hand. Let him/her see it. Don’t hold your hand directly in front of him/her; rabbit’s eyes are on the sides of their head, and he/she may be unable to see your hand and feel uncomfortable.
9. Gently stroke him/her between the ears.
Remember to keep talking. If the rabbit seems frightened or uncomfortable, pull your hand away slowly. It may help if you make a low humming noise, as rabbits sometimes use this noise to communicate with each other. Keep stroking him/her and letting him/her investigate you and the room. You can offer another tiny treat. Do not chase your bunny. Stay as quiet as possible. If the bunny hops back into his/her cage, let him/her. If you want to leave, slowly and gently close the door, talking all the while, and leave the room.
10. Repeat this every day.
Once your rabbit truly enjoys being with you, you can start looking at other articles and websites on how to enjoy your pet even more! After these first steps are completed, the possibilities are endless.
(Article source: Wikihow)