Can Rabbits and Dogs Live Together? — The House Rabbit

Rabbits and dogs can live together

You want to bring a new pet to your home, you have to take into consideration how the new pet will interact with your existing pets. For example, you may wonder if your dog will get along with your rabbit. Likewise, you may expect conflict between your rabbit companion and an excitable new dog. One is obviously a predator and the other a prey animal. Can Rabbits and dogs live together?

However, this requires bonding the two animals through consistent exposure in a safe environment. This will train your dog to resist its hunting instincts when around your rabbit. Even the trained dog, you will still need to constantly supervise your dog when it roams free with a rabbit.

Nobody says that rabbits and dogs can live together, some can, some can’t.  

Some dogs are very quiet to live with rabbits and show no prey drive whatsoever.  The two animals can be friends, even curl up and nap together.  But some dogs DO have the instinct that may potentially hurt your rabbit.  

Things To know before rabbits and dogs live together:

Can Rabbits and dogs live together
Image by JacLou DL from Pixabay

What breed is your dog?  

Some breeds like Greyhound have strong instincts to chase. Otherwise, some breeds have a strong desire to keep the rabbit in a certain place or nip at the rabbit’s back legs in typical herding fashion. While other breeds have had their hunting instincts really brought out, especially for the hunting of small animals. This is not to say these individual dogs can’t be friends with your rabbit, but on the whole, their genetic makeup may make it more difficult.  Most people, for instance, have a strong instinct to protect their home, so we’ve got to respect both animals involved here. Always remember how hard it is to resist instinct, and not ask a dog to overcome their nature.

What is the individual dog’s personality?  

Some breed will NOT do well around your rabbit and can be quite dangerous. while others will be very kind and nurturing toward a rabbit, some may cause injury, some will herd a rabbit to the point of exhaustion and some will play and cuddle nicely. There are exceptions to every rule.  You cannot assume your dog will be good with your rabbit based on breed alone but need to take history and personality into consideration as well.

Size doesn’t matter.  

Little dogs can be dangerous but big dogs can be kind and gentle . We have a 30 lb dog and a 110 lb dog in our house and the big dog is gentle with small animals, whereas the little dog cannot be permitted around them. You just can’t go by the size of your pet animal.

Some rabbits are simply more terrified of dogs.  

Doesn’t matter how gentle or kind your dog is, a rabbit does not necessarily understand there is no threat. Maybe your rabbit is a nervous type in general or had a bad experience before they came to you. However, no rabbit should ever have to be terrified in their own home. This can cause all kinds of health and behavioral health issues.

If you are not familiar with both rabbit and dog rabbit body language, read up.  Get some help from your local rabbit rescue. Call your dog trainer, and ask for help during introductions.  

When Rabbits and Dogs can’t live together?

  • One of your pets is elderly and suffering from pains and aches, ​chances are tempers will flare and someone could get hurt.
  • If your pets are ill, keep them away from each other.
  • Keep your puppies in the same room as the rabbit, perhaps, so that smells and presence become familiar, but we don’t recommend allowing puppies and rabbits to play together.
  • Keep your rabbit away from puppies that have sharp little teeth and haven’t learned bite inhibition.  
  • Leaving your dog and rabbit home alone together with full access to each other is not a good idea.  If there is a loud noise, or a storm, or construction, that may let your dog to an excited state.  Not only can the escalated energy scare the rabbit, but it changes the whole dynamic between the two animals. Just like two dogs who live together can actually go after each other when overstimulated, your dog may turn on your rabbit.

When Rabbits and Dogs live together?

If you want to have a home with both a dog and a rabbit, keep in mind  the following steps.

  • Puppies haven’t learned bite inhibition and want to play with toys and might see your rabbit as a toy. Otherwise, older dogs are mellower and like to sleep a lot, so an older dog is usually preferred.
  • One of the best ways for a rabbit and dog to meet is to have your dog on a leash in the living room with the leash being held by someone sitting in a chair. Then you can hold your rabbit sitting on a couch or chair in the room out of the dog’s reach. This way the dog cannot touch your rabbit but knows there is a rabbit in the home.
  • No matter what, try to never let a mistake happen and always be careful. How will you house your rabbit and ensure he is fully protected from dogs? Rabbits can jump anywhere. So avoid putting your rabbit in a situation where he could get out, or where your dog could touch your rabbit when you are not around.
  • There are households where dogs and rabbits live loose in the home. This can happen, but I can’t stress enough that you cannot just allow them to interact with each other. It’s a very long process to allow dogs and rabbits to roam loose in a home — it can take a very long time.
  • Some dog associations will let you foster a dog to see how a dog can behave in your home with your rabbit. When fostering, keep your rabbit and dog in separate rooms that are totally closed off from each other. Then come together to do introductions in the home.

I always recommend it’s best to be on the safe side and have your rabbit in a room where your dog does not go when you are not home. Even when you are home a lot of things can happen, make sure to always pay attention.

Final thoughts

Try to take into consideration both breed and the introduction of the animals if you want a home with a rabbit and dog. Generally, not force the friendship between your pets and remember to take it slow.

With three separate and unique animals, it will take time for pets to get along. It is always best to begin introducing the dog, rabbit, and cat in pairs. As they get relaxing and more comfortable with each other, you can begin introducing all three to each other. But ultimately, rabbits, and dogs can be best friends.

It will likely take effort on your part, but it will be so worth it to be able to see your pets play and interact together. Often, these relationships develop naturally without too much trouble so try to be patient. However, by following the tips in this article, you will be setting a great foundation for a rabbit and dog friendship.

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