Rabbits and dogs do not typically get along. However, a calm or well-trained dog may be able to get along with a rabbit without any problems.
Many pet owners have multiple pets. I know we have, everything from fish, a dog, rabbits and two Guinea pigs. If you love pets it’s hard to have just the one.
But often we have tried to let our rabbit roam free in the garden and introduce our dog ( Sheba ) to her. You can tell our rabbit ( Mr Nibbles ) is too scared to be enjoying it.
It also, gets Sheba too excited too. Which isn’t good.
Will our dog harm Mr. Nibbles? I don’t actually think she would intentionally but dogs have an instinct in the wild to prey on smaller animals so she might.
I don’t want to take the risk or scare Mr Nibbles to death.
Now, there is always the exception to the rule, before youm all start writing into us. And some dogs are so peaceful and quiet that they don’t scare your pet rabbit.
So, I guess it’s all about the temperament of your dog.
Why Dogs Don’t Get Along With Rabbits
Dogs have strong innate instincts to chase after smaller prey. It can be difficult for even the friendliest of dogs to ignore their instincts and not attack your rabbit when they dart in front of them. Even if your dog is trying to play with the rabbit, they can end up severely harming it if they pounce or playfully bite.
Dog Breeds To Avoid If You Have A Rabbit
Certain dogs have higher prey drives than others. They are bred to hunt. These breeds will be more difficult to train when it comes to coexisting with a rabbit.
Here are a few types of dogs that fall in this category.
- Guard Dogs (ie. German Shepherds)
- Scent Hounds (ie. Beagles)
- Sighthounds (ie. Whippet)
- Sled dogs (ie. Siberian Husky)
- Terriers (ie. Airedale)
This is not to say that these types of dogs cannot be trained to get along with rabbits, just that it may be more difficult.
Dog Breeds Likely To Get Along With Rabbits
Some dog breeds have lower prey drive than others. These breeds are more likely to coexist with a rabbit without any problems.
- Bichon Frisé
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
- Golden retriever
- Great Pyrenees
- Japanese Chin
Even though they are less likely to chase after your rabbit, you should still take precautions and do your best to train the dog not to chase the rabbit.
You could buy a Flemish Giant rabbit. These are often bigger than your dog!
How To Train Your Dog To Get Along With A Rabbit
To avoid having your dog harm your rabbit, you should follow these important steps.
Introduce your dog to the rabbit with the dog on a leash and the rabbit in a cage. Keep the dog at a distance from the cage at first to see how the two animals react.
If either animal exhibits stress, lead the dog out of the room and try again the next day until the animals are calm when seeing each other. Then allow the dog up to the cage to interact with the rabbit with a barrier still between them.
Some people say that introducing a puppy to a rabbit can make the process easier but you should be careful because puppies tend to have high energy and could harm the rabbit just by trying to play.
The other suggestion is to introduce dogs that are already comfortable living with other smaller animals, such as cats.
Allow Rabbit and Dog to Interact
Once your animals are calm with one another through the barrier, you can introduce them face to face.
Keep the dog on a leash at all times and allow the rabbit space to get away and hide if they feel uncomfortable. It’s best if your dog is trained to sit and stay, as this will help keep both the dog and rabbit calm during this process.
Always allow the rabbit to approach the dog first and if there are any signs of aggression, remove the dog from the room immediately. You can try the next couple of days until the dog and rabbit show no signs of aggression towards one another.
Once you are positive you can trust both the rabbit and the dog, you can allow the dog to run around freely with the rabbit. Always supervise these interactions. It’s best if you do short interactions, once a day for an extended period of time before you allow for extended interactions.
Not All Dogs and Rabbits Get Along
Even if you do all the above steps correctly, some dogs and rabbits won’t get along. If this is the case, you will have to keep your rabbit solely in one part of the house where your dog will not be allowed.
Owning A Rabbit and A Dog
It is possible to have your pet rabbit and dog live peacefully within your home. However, you should always take the proper precautions to ensure the safety of both animals.
Not only will dogs chase after rabbits, but territorial and scared rabbits may attack your dog. If the animals don’t get along despite your best efforts, you can still keep both your loving pets. You will just have to make sure they stay separated within your home.