Can Rabbits And Dogs Live Together?

Can dogs and rabbits live together in harmony? It’s the age-old question plaguing multi-pet households. Dog and bunny might seem like a mismatched pair, but with proper precautions, these predator and prey animals can become the best of friends. This comprehensive guide dives into everything you need to know about bonding rabbits and dogs, from ideal breed matches to tips on introducing pets for maximum success. You’ll learn the signs your furry duo has built a trusting relationship, as well as how to handle situations where dog and rabbit just aren’t a good fit. Read on for 10,000 words of wisdom to help you determine if your dog and rabbit can peacefully coexist under one roof.

Do Dogs And Rabbits Get Along?

With proper introduction and supervision, dogs and rabbits can get along and even become good friends. However, there are some important things to consider before getting a dog if you have rabbits, or vice versa.

Rabbits are prey animals and dogs are predators by nature, so there are some natural instincts to overcome. Rabbits may see dogs as a threat and become frightened. Dogs may have a high prey drive and want to chase or hurt the rabbit. Much depends on the individual temperaments of the pets.

Some dogs have stronger hunting instincts than others. Sight hounds like greyhounds have a particularly strong prey drive and may be difficult to train to get along with rabbits. Herding breeds like border collies also have a tendency to stalk and chase.

With early socialization and training, many dogs can learn to be trusted around rabbits. The keys are taking things slowly, never leaving them unsupervised, and watching for signs of stress in the rabbit. If the rabbit is constantly frightened, stressed, or hiding when the dog is around, they may not be a good match.

Smaller, gentler dog breeds often do better with rabbits. The dog should have a calm, easygoing personality. You want to look for behaviors like ignoring, smelling, or gently licking rather than chasing, pawing, or being overly excited around the rabbit.

Overall, whether dogs and rabbits can peacefully coexist depends a lot on their individual personalities and proper introduction. With patience and supervision, they can become friends, but sometimes certain pets are just not a good fit no matter what you try. Pay close attention to their interactions and be prepared to keep them separate if needed.

Can Rabbits Bond with Dogs?

Many rabbits and dogs can form close bonds and become great friends when properly introduced. There are several factors that determine whether a dog and rabbit will bond:

  • Age – It's ideal to introduce dogs and rabbits when they are both young. Older rabbits may be stressed by a new dog companion. Puppies can more easily learn to be gentle with a rabbit.

  • Personality – Look for a relaxed, friendly dog and confident rabbit. Shy, skittish rabbits may become too frightened. High prey drive dogs are likely to chase.

  • Size – Small breeds like toy poodles, Maltese, or dachshunds often do better with rabbits. Large breeds may unintentionally injure a rabbit by pawing or stepping on them.

  • Training – Dogs must be trained to leave the rabbit alone, not bark, chase, or be rough. Use positive reinforcement training and never punish dogs around the rabbit.

  • Supervision – Unattended interactions can quickly turn deadly. Dogs and rabbits should be supervised until you are certain they get along well.

  • Space – Provide places for the rabbit to hop and run away from the dog. Confined spaces increase stress.

  • Time – Let the pets spend small amounts of time together at first, increasing gradually over weeks/months as they become comfortable.

  • Patience – Some pets may never fully bond. Pay attention to their behaviors and don't force an unsafe match. Separate them if the rabbit seems constantly stressed.

With careful introduction, many dogs and rabbits become close friends. They may groom each other, play together, or just hang out compatibly. But take things slowly and be prepared to keep them apart if needed. The safety and wellbeing of the rabbit should always come first.

How To Bond Rabbits And Dogs

Bonding a rabbit and dog takes patience, time and proper techniques. Here are some tips for helping dogs and rabbits become friends:

  • Start with separate enclosures side-by-side so they can smell/see each other without interacting. Monitor them for signs of stress.

  • Once they seem comfortable with each other's presence, allow short, supervised meet-and-greets. Pet and praise the dog for calm behavior.

  • Use baby gates to allow the pets to interact safely with a barrier. This lets them get used to each other without danger.

  • When they appear relaxed around each other, try short, leashed sessions. One person holds the leash while another monitors the rabbit. Have treats ready to reward good behavior.

  • Provide escape routes for the rabbit in case they get frightened. Never force them to interact; things should proceed at the rabbit's pace.

  • Use distraction and correction to curb unwanted chasing or obsessing over the rabbit. Redirect the dog's attention to obedience commands or toys.

  • Feed the pets treats nearby each other to create a positive association. But supervise always in case of resource guarding.

  • As bonding progresses, allow longer supervised time together. Watch closely for any signs of aggression or fear from either pet.

  • Rotate access to "territories" like beds so they get used to each other's scent. This helps prevent resource guarding.

  • Provide separate areas/litter boxes for each pet to prevent confrontation over toilet areas. Clean any accidents immediately.

  • Be vigilant and patient. It can take weeks or months for some pets to bond. Some may never fully get along and need separate playtime.

  • If you see signs of aggression, fear, or stress, stop sessions immediately and consult an animal behaviorist for guidance.

With time and positive reinforcement, many dogs and rabbits become trusting friends. But never force interactions. Pay close attention to behaviors and go at the rabbit's pace for best bonding results.

Introduce The Animals Through a Cage

One effective way to familiarize a dog and rabbit safely is by introducing them to each other through a cage. Here are some tips for cage introductions:

  • House the rabbit in a secure, adequately-sized cage. Make sure the cage is sturdy; some dogs may paw or bump it if excited.

  • Place the caged rabbit in a room with enough space for the dog to move around it. Keep the dog leashed initially.

  • Bring the dog into the room and allow it to approach and sniff the caged rabbit under supervision. Correct any signs of aggression or overly excited behavior.

  • When the dog seems calm around the rabbit, you can unclip the leash but continue to supervise all interactions closely.

  • Sit near the cage and pet both animals to help them make positive associations with each other's presence. Give treats for calm behavior.

  • Watch the rabbit's body language. If they seem overly stressed, frightened, or defensive, remove the dog and try again another time.

  • Once the pets appear comfortable around each other through the barrier, you can move to the next step of short, supervised interactions with the rabbit free.

  • Proceed gradually to ensure the dog sees the rabbit as a friend, not prey. Rushing introduction stages can sabotage the bonding process.

  • If the dog ever exhibits inappropriate behavior like lunging, scratching, or aggressively barking at the caged rabbit, interrupt the behavior and try again later.

A cage allows the pets to become accustomed to each other from a safe distance. Take introductions slowly and positively. With time, many dogs and rabbits develop a friendly, trusting relationship this way.

Have Your Rabbit And Dog Bonded?

How can you tell when your rabbit and dog have successfully bonded? Here are some positive signs:

  • The pets seek each other out and lay or play together comfortably and safely.

  • They groom each other and sniff/lick gently, rather than nipping or pawing aggressively.

  • Your dog remains calm and gentle around the rabbit; doesn't fixate, stare, lunge, or chase.

  • Your rabbit stays relaxed, continues normal activities like eating and self-grooming, and doesn't thump in warning.

  • Neither pet guards resources like food, toys, or sleeping areas from the other animal.

  • They can peacefully share living spaces without the need for barriers or constant supervision.

  • Your pets appear happy and unstressed in each other's company. There are no signs of fear, aggression, or avoidance.

  • Your rabbit flops down comfortably and closes its eyes to rest near your dog. A relaxed rabbit is a happy rabbit!

  • Your dog voluntarily responds to obedience cues around the rabbit, showing they're focused on you rather than fixating.

  • Neither pet startles, retreats, or reacts fearfully if the other approaches closely or makes sudden movements.

  • Your pets play chase games together in a friendly manner, taking turns pursuing each other.

Forming a close bond takes time, patience, and vigilance. But when a dog and rabbit truly become friends, they will enjoy hanging out together and show obvious affection and comfort with each other.

Best Dog Breeds for Pet Rabbits

When choosing a dog breed to pair with a pet rabbit, look for attributes like small size, gentle temperament, and low prey drive. Some of the best dogs for rabbits include:

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel – Gentle, affectionate small breed. Their moderate energy levels and easygoing nature make them one of the top picks for living with rabbits.

Havanese – Small, playful, and typically docile with other pets. Their trainable nature allows them to be taught appropriate behavior around rabbits.

Maltese – Tiny, laid-back companion dogs who tend to get along well with other pets. Their small stature prevents them from injuring rabbits.

French Bulldog – One of the calmest breeds, with low exercise needs. Most do not have high prey drives. Supervision is still required.

Greyhound – Contrary to their speedy reputation, retired racing greyhounds are giant couch potatoes indoors and usually ignore small pets.

Pug – Charming, easygoing small dogs. They tend to live happily with cats, so usually do well with docile rabbits too. Their short snoots pose little threat.

Italian Greyhound – More energetic than larger greyhounds, but still low prey drive. Affectionate with their families and gentle overall.

Of course, individuals may differ, so choose based on temperament rather than breed alone. But these small, mellow breeds tend to thrive in multi-pet households.

Are Golden Retrievers Good with Rabbits?

Golden retrievers are one of the dog breeds most likely to get along well with pet rabbits. Here’s why goldens and bunnies tend to make great companions:

  • Friendly Nature – Goldens are very affectionate, gentle dogs who aim to please their owners. They are highly motivated by praise and treats, making them very trainable.

  • Gentle Mouths – Originally bred as hunting dogs, goldens naturally use soft mouths to retrieve downed birds without damage. This makes them less likely to hurt a delicate rabbit, even while playing.

  • Eagerness to Please – Goldens were bred as working dogs and they thrive when given a job to do. Asking them to “be gentle” or ignore the rabbit gives them a purpose.

  • High Tolerance – Goldens have an easygoing attitude and tend to be patient with other pets. They are less likely than many breeds to be irritated or reactive towards rabbits.

  • Moderate Prey Drive – While goldens have some hunting instincts, their prey drive is not nearly as strong as in hounds and terriers, for example. With training, they can learn to ignore a bunny.

  • Appropriate Size – Goldens are a medium-large breed. When full grown they are much too big to live with a tiny dwarf rabbit, but fine with an average sized bunny.

Of course, supervision and training are always required, but golden retrievers have the perfect blend of traits to make them good rabbit companions for the right households. Their gentle nature helps them bond easily with rabbits.

Do Poodles Get Along with Rabbits?

Yes, poodles can get along very well with rabbits when properly introduced. Here’s why poodles and rabbits make good companions:

  • Highly Trainable – Poodles are smart, eager to please dogs who excel at obedience training. This allows them to be taught not to chase or bother the rabbit.

  • Moderate Energy – While poodles need daily exercise, they tend to be calmer indoors. They’re not as high-strung as some hunting breeds prone to chasing rabbits.

  • Minimal Shedding – Many poodles have the low-shedding coat perfect for multi-pet households with a rabbit. Rabbits are very clean animals and don’t appreciate dog hair in their environments.

  • Friendly Nature – Poodles bond closely with their human families and generally thrive in multi-pet homes. They don’t tend to be possessive or aggressive with other pets.

  • Adaptable Size – From toy to standard poodles, there’s a size to safely match most rabbits. Very small mini or toy poodles should only live with larger rabbits, however.

  • Low Prey Drive – While poodles were originally retriever dogs, most modern pet poodles have minimal prey drive toward small pets. They can be easily trained to ignore rabbits.

With proper precautions like supervision and training, poodles and rabbits can cohabitate very successfully. For active families, they make great multi-pet households.

Do Maltese Get Along with Rabbits?

The Maltese is a great small dog breed to pair with a pet rabbit. Here's why Maltese and rabbits make good companions:

  • Small Size – Weighing 5-10 lbs, Maltese are too small to easily injure a rabbit by pouncing, stepping on, or playing too roughly.

  • Affectionate Nature – Maltese form very strong bonds with their human families. This means they are highly motivated to be gentle with other pets when trained.

  • Minimal Exercise Needs – Maltese are happy with short walks and light play. They don't need intense exercise that could pose a hazard to a free-roaming rabbit.

  • Low Prey Drive – Maltese were originally lap dogs and companions, not hunting dogs. They do not have strong instincts to chase smaller pets.

  • Patient Temperament – Maltese tend to be calm indoors. They are usually tolerant of other pets and can learn to ignore rabbits.

  • Companion Breed – Maltese thrive on being with their people. They enjoy attention and affection from everyone in the home, including other pets.

  • Minimal Shedding – The Maltese's long, silky coat sheds very little. This helps keep a tidy, hair-free environment for clean rabbits.

With training and supervision, the trusting Maltese temperament helps this breed accept rabbits as part of their human "pack." They make a great small dog option for bunny-loving families.

Do Great Pyrenees Get Along with Rabbits?

The Great Pyrenees is a breed not typically recommended for homes with rabbits. Here's why:

  • Large Size – Great Pyrenees weigh 80-100+ lbs. Their sheer size means a Pyr could seriously injure a rabbit by stepping on or playing too roughly, even if accidentally.

  • Strong Prey Drive – Pyrs were bred as livestock guardian dogs to protect flocks from predators. Their instincts to chase small prey animals are very strong.

  • Independence – Great Pyrs are free-thinkers who like making their own decisions. This makes them more difficult to train to ignore tempting rabbit prey.

  • Roaming Tendency – Pyrs have a habit of roaming and patrolling property boundaries if not contained. This poses a major hazard to free-roaming rabbits.

  • Excessive Barking – Pyrs often bark loudly at any perceived threat, including small pets. This constant stress can frighten rabbits.

  • Moderate Shedding – The Pyr's thick double coat sheds a fair amount all year. Rabbits prefer a tidy, hair-free living environment.

  • Strong Guarding Instinct – Pyrs have an ingrained need to guard territory and family members, including from other pets. Prey animals like rabbits can become targets.

While individual Great Pyrs may get along fine with rabbits, extreme caution and supervision are required. Their size, prey drive and guarding instincts make cohabitation risky. Another breed may be a safer choice.

Do Old English Sheepdogs Get Along with Rabbits?

Old English Sheepdogs can do well with rabbits, but there are some caveats:

  • Herding Breed – Their instincts to control flock movements by chasing/nipping must be curbed through training.

  • Excited Nature – OES tend to be rambunctious and high-energy. They may scare or unintentionally hurt a rabbit when playing.

  • Large Size – Weighing 60-100 lbs, an OES playing too exuberantly could injure a rabbit. Supervision is key.

  • Moderate Shedding – The OES thick double coat requires frequent brushing to prevent hair buildup that rabbits dislike.

  • Need For Activity – OES thrive on 1+ hours of vigorous daily exercise. A rabbit's lower activity levels may frustrate them.

  • Tendency To Wander – OES like to roam and need secure fencing/housing so they don't endanger an outdoor rabbit.

However, OES are also:

  • Highly Trainable – With patience and consistency, they can learn to ignore and be gentle with rabbits.

  • Loyal – OES bond strongly with their families and aim to please. They will happily include bunnies as part of their flock.

  • Playful – With training, an OES and rabbit may enjoy gentle play sessions together under supervision.

So while challenging, OES and rabbits can coexist with diligent training, containment, supervision, and activity. Their herding traits must be redirected to make them safe rabbit companions.

Do Labrador Retrievers Get Along with Rabbits?

Labrador retrievers can live harmoniously with rabbits, but there are some important considerations:

  • Strong Prey Drive – As hunting/retrieving dogs, Labs' instincts to chase small prey are very strong and must be controlled.

  • Exuberance – Labs’ energetic, enthusiastic nature could lead to accidental harm of a more delicate rabbit. They need training to be gentle.

  • Large Size – Weigh


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