This article is contributed by guest writer, Jackie B. (Writer of Flemish Giant Rabbit).
Can Rabbits and Dogs be Best Friends?
Dogs are predators. Rabbits are prey. You may wonder if they can ever coexist peacefully, never mind be best friends. We see strange animal pairs all the time, but do they really happen in real life?
The answer is yes. Your rabbit and dog can be best friends, you just need to learn how to help them get started. It is crucial to move slowly and not try to force the relationship. Let your rabbit and dog get to know each other and build a level of trust over time. Here’s our expert advice on how to ensure that your furry and fluffy friends get along.
How to introduce rabbits and dogs
The introduction is one of the most crucial aspects of the rabbit and dog relationship. As mentioned above, just as you cannot force two dogs to become friends, you cannot force a dog and a rabbit. The friendship will take time to build.
When planning on introducing the cute new addition to the family to your existing pet, follow these guidelines:
- Make sure both animals have visited a vet before they meet. Many illnesses or diseases can jump species, so it essential that both dogs and rabbits are healthy. Plus, a sick animal is a stressed animal, and you don’t want even more stress in the introduction.
- Make sure that your dog is obedient and knows essential commands: “Sit,” “Leave it,” “Stay,” and “No” should be the minimum that your dog knows. Many locations, including vet offices and doggy daycare establishments, offer obedience classes. A well-trained dog is more likely to listen to you if the introduction to the rabbit goes wrong.
- Introduce the two animals in a neutral location. If the rabbit is the newcomer, a dog can feel threatened by its presence in their home. Instead, you could take your dog to where you are picking your rabbit up from.
- Keep your dog on a leash and let your new fluffy friend either on a leash or in their indoor rabbit hutch or cage. Rabbits are prey animals, and so are much more likely to bolt when they see the dog.
- Introduce them slowly in a calm and secure environment. Do not just throw them together outside of your supervision. Watch the body language of both the rabbit and dog to gauge how the meeting is going. If one or both shows signs of stress or fear, back them off, and only continue the introduction once both animals have calmed down.
- Keep the inactions supervised and short until you are completely sure that the friendship is going well. This stage may take weeks to months depending on the animals.
As with any pet, breed matters in the rabbit and dog relationship. Some dogs have a much stronger prey drive than others. And similarly, some rabbits are more likely to defend themselves or run away than others. Although the breed is important for both rabbits and dogs, it is the dog’s breed that will make the most difference. It is nearly impossible to try out win a strong prey drive.
Obviously, every pet is unique, but their breed determines many physical and personality characteristics. Getting the right breed can set your rabbit and dog relationship up for success or, conversely, cause it to fail.
The following dog breeds have a less strong prey drive. They are more likely to leave your rabbit alone or play nice:
- Boston Terrier
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
- Golden Retriever
- Standard and Mini Poodles
If you want a good rabbit and dog relationship, you will want to stay away from the following dog breeds:
- Alaskan Malamute
- German Shepherd
While the dog’s breed will be the more important factor, the rabbit breed plays a role as well. You want to find a rabbit that is calm. Nervous rabbits will not do well in homes with dogs. Here are the rabbit breeds that get along well with dogs.
- Flemish Giant
- California Giant
- Checkered Giant
- Some mixed breeds – However, your success, in this case, will be determined by the individual animal.
Rabbits and dogs may not seem to have a lot in common, but they can be the best of friends. By following the advice given in this article, you will ensure that your rabbit and dog friendship gets off to a great start and remains successful. Sometimes nurture really does triumph over nature. All you have to do is watch dogs and rabbits play to understand the joy that occurs these two disparate species are best friends.