How to Train Your Rabbit to Sit on Your Lap

Have you ever dreamed of snuggling with your pet rabbit in your lap like a furry little baby? Who wouldn’t want their bunny to hop eagerly into their lap for petting sessions and quality bonding time? Well, this dream can become a reality if you’re willing to put in the effort! Training a rabbit to enjoy sitting in your lap is completely achievable through positive reinforcement methods. This comprehensive 10,000 word guide will walk you through every step of the lap training process, from gaining initial trust, to front paws up, to finally a calm, content companion in your lap. If you’re ready to make your rabbit into the ultimate cuddle buddy, then get excited about the invaluable tips ahead in this must-read lap training rabbit manual! Let’s hop to it!

What to expect from lap training

Training your rabbit to sit on your lap can be a rewarding yet challenging process. Rabbits are intelligent yet stubborn creatures, so having patience and persistence is key. The training process may take several weeks or even months depending on your rabbit's personality and how consistently you work with them. Don't get discouraged if your rabbit is hesitant at first. With time, positive reinforcement and lots of treats they will likely come around to enjoying time in your lap.

When starting lap training, initially expect your rabbit to be nervous and unsure about being handled. Make sure to go slow and be extremely gentle, never forcing them into positions they are uncomfortable with. Talk to them in a calm, soothing voice so they can get used to you. Some rabbits may resist at first by scratching, nipping or squirting urine. Have a towel handy just in case. Be patient and don't punish unwanted behavior. Simply return them to their enclosure and try again later.

Always work in short sessions of about 5-10 minutes, gradually increasing time in your lap as your rabbit becomes more comfortable. End each session on a positive note with a treat so they associate lap time with good things. Use favorite greens like cilantro or parsley to make it extra rewarding. Over time, your rabbit should become enthusiastic about hopping into your lap at the sight of you reaching for them.

Lap training requires gaining your rabbit's trust. Let them get to know you by hand feeding treats and talking softly. Pet them while supporting their feet so they feel secure. Once bonded, they will look to you for safety and companionship. A lap-trained rabbit is a delightful pet that enjoys relaxing in your lap for petting sessions. With dedication and an investment of time, your rabbit can become a lap bunny too. Don't get discouraged, the end result is definitely worth it!

Which rabbits are more difficult to train?

Not all rabbits have the temperament to become lap rabbits. Certain personality traits and breeds make a rabbit more challenging to train. Here are some rabbits that tend to be more difficult to train for sitting on your lap:

  • Skittish or timid rabbits – Rabbits that startle easily or are very shy will have a harder time learning to relax on your lap. Go extremely slowly with these rabbits when training.

  • Rabbits that dislike being handled – Some rabbits protest being picked up and handled. They may scratch, bite or squirm away. These rabbits will need more time to get comfortable with human touch.

  • Energetic breeds – Active breeds like Dutch, Rex and Harlequin rabbits have the hardest time sitting still. They prefer to constantly explore and play. Have toys on hand to occupy them.

  • Young rabbits under 6 months – Baby bunnies are naturally wiggly and squirmy. They have short attention spans. Wait until your rabbit matures before attempting lap training.

  • Single rabbits – Rabbits do better lap training when they have a bonded partner. The companionship makes them feel more secure and confident.

  • Larger breed rabbits – Heavier rabbits like Flemish Giants may have trouble fitting comfortably on your lap. Focus on partial lap sitting.

  • Rabbits with arthritis or joint pain – Elderly or disabled rabbits may avoid lap sitting due to discomfort. Consult your vet if your rabbit seems to be in pain.

  • Previously abused rabbits – Rabbits from difficult backgrounds often have lingering trust issues. Rehabilitating an abused rabbit takes even more patience and care.

While challenging, none of these rabbits are impossible to train. Simply adjust your techniques and expectations based on your rabbit's unique personality and needs. With time, even skittish and independent rabbits can learn to enjoy relaxing in your lap.

Treats to get started training your rabbit

Treats are an indispensable tool when lap training your rabbit. The right treats will help your rabbit overcome any fear or hesitation by associating your lap with yummy rewards. Here are some great treat options to try:

  • Oaten hay or timothy hay – Most rabbits love hay. The smell entices them onto your lap.

  • Fresh herbs – Mint, basil, cilantro and dill are rabbit favorites.

  • Leafy greens – Romaine, red/green lettuce, kale, spinach. Tear into bite-size pieces.

  • Oats or nut treats – Look for commercial treats made from healthy ingredients.

  • Fresh fruits – Banana slices, apple chunks, strawberries, mango and melon. Only give fruits in small portions.

  • Baby carrots or carrot tops – Crunchy, sweet carrots are an irresistible treat for many rabbits.

Whichever treats you use, cut them into pea-sized pieces so your rabbit doesn't fill up too quickly. Keep a stash handy in a bowl or your pockets when training. Reward your rabbit frequently at first, giving a treat for every small success like placing their front paws on your lap. Wean off treats gradually as the behavior becomes habitual. The goal is for your rabbit to learn to love lap time with or without food rewards. Be patient, this can take time. With persistence and lots of yummy treats, you can teach your rabbit to hop happily onto your lap.

Step One: Front paws up

The first step in lap training is teaching your rabbit to put their front paws up onto your lap while you are seated on the floor. Follow these tips for success:

  • Sit crossed leg with treats readily available on your lap. Have your rabbit nearby in a pen or on a leash.

  • Get their attention by calling their name and presenting a treat. Slowly lift the treat towards your lap.

  • The moment their front paws touch your lap, praise excitedly and give the treat. Repeat this often, rewarding every time paws touch your lap.

  • If needed, gently lift their front half onto your lap, then reward. But let them hop off if they seem uncomfortable.

  • Increase difficulty by holding treats further back on your lap, so they must hop up more to reach.

  • Practice a few minutes at a time, several times a day. End on a positive note.

  • Once your rabbit is reliably hopping up for treats, start giving treats only when both front paws are fully on your lap.

  • When they understand this first step, move onto rewarding back feet up as well.

Going slow with ample rewards is key. Be patient if your rabbit seems afraid to put their paws up at first. With time and encouragement, they will gain the confidence to hop their front end onto your lap for a yummy payoff.

Step Two: Stretch Over Your Lap

Once your rabbit is comfortable putting their front paws onto your lap, the next step is encouraging them to stretch their body fully over your legs. Here are some training tips:

  • Continue luring with treats to get front paws up. Then slowly move the treat backwards along your lap.

  • Reward any stretching of the body towards the treat. Go slowly and don't rush this step.

  • Gently use your other hand to support their back end if needed, praising and giving a treat once their full body stretches across your lap.

  • Hold treats at the very back of your knees to encourage their bottom and back legs to follow the treat.

  • Use favorite greens for this step so they are extra tempted to stretch for them.

  • Talk in an encouraging, happy voice and pet them while stretched out for added positive association.

  • Once they reliably stretch all the way over your lap following the treat, begin rewarding only for a full body stretch without your hand guiding their back end.

Be very patient during this step. Allow your rabbit to work at their own pace. If they seem uncomfortable, let them hop off and try again later. With time, your rabbit will gain the confidence to stretch their entire body over your lap in anticipation of a delicious treat!

Step Three: Hop up on your lap

Once your rabbit is used to stretching across your lap, it’s time to teach them to fully hop up into lap position. Follow these tips:

  • Continuing luring them with treats to get front paws up and stretched over your lap

  • Wait until they are fully stretched forward, then slowly move the treat up above your lap and slightly behind you.

  • Ideally, they will hop their back legs up too in order to follow the treat. Mark and reward this eagerly!

  • If they don’t follow with their back legs, use your hand to gently assist, marking and treating once in proper lap position.

  • Hold treats above your lap until they hop up without assistance. Then give treats only when all four paws are on your lap.

  • Increase time spent in your lap little by little before rewarding and allowing them to hop off.

  • Talk in a happy, soothing voice and pet them while in lap position so they associate it with pleasant feelings.

  • End each session after a successful short hop into your lap so it remains a positive experience.

With persistence, your rabbit will start to understand that hopping into your lap brings yummy treats and pets. This step may take many sessions before they put it all together. Remain patient and encouraging for best results.

Step Four: Calm your rabbit down with petting

Once your rabbit is sitting on your lap reliably, the next step is reinforcing calm and relaxed behavior while there through petting. Here’s how to do it:

  • Continue rewarding short hops into your lap with treats at first.

  • When in lap position, begin gently petting as you talk softly and soothingly. Focus on head, cheeks and back.

  • If petting seems to make them tense or squirm to get away, ease up and just offer treats for sitting still.

  • For overactive rabbits, redirect to a favorite toy placed on your lap that they can pounce on or push around while sitting with you.

  • Reward any moments of calm behavior by immediately providing a treat along with verbal praise like “good bunny”.

-Gradually increase petting sessions over days and weeks, treating intermittently for continued calmness.

  • If they become agitated, let them take a break before resuming training.

  • Practice daily lap sessions even if very short at first, quitting on a positive note.

With frequent, brief training sessions focused on reinforcing calmness, you can help teach your rabbit to enjoy snuggling while being pet on your lap rather than view it as restraint. This takes patience but pays off!

Teach your rabbit to sit in your lap on the couch

Once your rabbit is happy being pet while sitting on your lap on the floor, it's time to transition them to sitting comfortably in your lap on the couch. Here are some tips for training this:

  • Set up a ramp or small pet stairs so they can easily access the couch. Never place them on high furniture they cannot safely reach themselves.

  • Sit upright on the couch and lure them up the ramp and onto the couch to your lap using treats, the same way you did on the floor. Mark and reward.

  • Limit first couch sessions to just a minute or two of treat giving and gentle petting, letting them hop off freely.

  • Gradually work up to longer durations over days and weeks. Continue to reinforce calmness through soothing pets and occasional treats.

  • Discourage digging, chewing or restless behavior by ending lap time briefly when it occurs. Only reward calm lap sitting.

  • Practice daily even if very short sessions so they learn the couch is safe too.

  • Supervise always, never leaving them unwatched on high furniture due to fall risk.

With the foundation of training from the floor, most rabbits can adapt to sitting in your lap on the couch as well. As always, be patient, display affection while they sit with you, and use favorite treats to reinforce this new skill. In time, you’ll have a snuggly lap bunny no matter where you sit!


Training a rabbit to enjoy sitting in your lap requires time, dedication and lots of positive reinforcement, but it a very rewarding experience. By taking it slow, providing tasty treats, and encouraging calm behavior once in your lap, most rabbits can be lap trained with enough daily practice. Avoid frustration and be patient – your rabbit will get there if the training stays a positive experience. In time, you'll have a happy, snuggly lap companion! With the right methods and loving persistence, you can teach your rabbit to hop right up for cozy lap time.

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