Potty Training Your New Bunny
So, the first thing that many bunny owners do is they get home with their adorable new rabbit and plop them down in the living room with a litter box, food and water, and expect the rabbit to just somehow know exactly where everything is and how to act.
Let me tell you, this is not realistic.
Even if your bunny is already litter box trained, they’re going to be SUPER busy for the first week or two exploring their new environment and checking out what new things are in your house that they’ve never seen, smelled, or heard before!
And like any young creature, they’re going to have accidents.
Before we go anywhere with this, let me make one thing clear: You CANNOT PUNISH your bunny for having an accident. Period.
Let me say this again. DO NOT attempt to punish your bunny for peeing or pooping where YOU don’t think they should. End of discussion.
Okay, now that’s out of the way. You, as the responsible “parent”, will have to spend this first week or two with your bunny reinforcing the idea that the restroom is in ONE spot, EVEN IF they’re already litter box trained.
The absolutely best way to start with your new bunny is to have an exercise pen in the corner of the room you spend most of your time in, and put all the rabbit gear there. So, one corner of your living room with the exercise pen, litter box, food and water dishes, toys, all of it.
Your bunny will spend their first week or two primarily in this space, so that they can find everything and not get overwhelmed with all the new things/people in their life. And, you’re going to take them out just to hold them for the first day. Then you’re going to start letting them explore while you CLOSELY supervise to catch them if they start to potty somewhere besides the litter box. If they lift their tail, IMMEDIATELY scoop them up and set them in the litter box! This is the signal that they’re about to use the restroom, wherever they may be.
Use your time together wisely for the first week or two, and you will be rewarded later, by being able to trust your house rabbit to find and use the litter box appropriately!
If they do have an “accident”, you MUST use a paper towel to pick up that poop or pee, and place it IN the litter box, paper towel and all. Then, you MUST use a deodorizer on the spot to remove the scent. This is to reinforce the idea that the BOX is where the smelly events happen, and they will get the idea very quickly if you help them use their sense of smell this way.
If your house bunny has been super good about using the litter box, but starts having accidents, ask yourself some questions.
- What has changed in your buns’ environment? If you decide to get your bunny a friend, this is a BIG change, and they may forget their potty manners for a bit. If you add a cat or dog to your family, or if you get a new human roommate, these are BIG changes!! Be patient with your rabbit, because new friends can add stress for a while before everyone settles in.
- How old is your bunny? Rabbits become sexually mature at about 6 months of age, and like any animal in the grip of hormonal changes, they may forget their potty manners at this age. Get your rabbit spayed or neutered by this age to prevent them “losing their minds” due to hormones.
- If neither of these things apply, please see your veterinarian! Many health issues can be diagnosed early, and if your bunny doesn’t feel well, they may show it by having accidents. Your vet can frequently figure out what’s wrong before any health issues show any other way!
SO, once you have your bunny settled in and he or she is ALWAYS using the litter box after that first week or two, you’re ready to let bun do some real bouncing around your home. Again, please supervise your bunny at this stage because rabbits DO get excited and can forget that they need to use the restroom until they just don’t have time to make it back to the box. Much like human children, exciting play can take up ALL their attention and suddenly they need to go but they’re too far away from the restroom. That’s where YOU come in and help by scooping her/him up when that tail lifts, just like a parent will pick up a child and run to the restroom.
Here's a video link to an awesome lady who has a fun bunny named Cinnabun, and she’s got a great common-sense system to help you with your new bunny! Have a GREAT bunny day!