Tonawanda News —
Earlier this month, Storey Publishing released a book titled “The Rabbit-Raising Problem Solver” by Karen Patry, illustrated by Elara Tanguy. The illustrations are a great reference to get a clear understanding of what normal or abnormal rabbit behavior looks like.
Patry runs the website www.raising-rabbits.com, which sees up to 18,500 rabbit pet owners and breeders a month. A majority of her book is a Q&A outline. This style makes it very easy to get quick answers to your rabbit needs.
When I received this book, I quickly looked for the topic of fearful and aggressive rabbits to find aid on how to train my new un-huggable rabbit. Unfortunately, I was not pleased with the answers.
For aggressive rabbits, the author recommends a technique called pinning.
“Pinning is the same behavior rabbits use to exert dominance or to reprimand subordinate rabbits,” the author explained. She then goes on to explain how to put yourself in charge. “When you open the cage, quickly swoop your hand in from above, like a hawk, and press (or pin) the rabbit’s head or shoulders firmly to the floor so it cannot use its teeth or claws.” It goes on to say to hold the rabbit until it stops growling or struggling.
For timid rabbits, the author asks, “Does the rabbit think it’s the boss?” suggesting that dominant rabbits may charge at their caregiver but also may also act timid — and if that is the case, you should pin the timid rabbit.
This, to me, seems like an “old-school” method of rabbit care. This old school method works; if it didn’t, people would have stopped doing it a while ago. But what I am going to do for my mostly fearful, sometimes aggressive rabbit is what I would do for almost any animal — use a food reward to hopefully increase behaviors such as sitting still, allowing a gentle single pat on the back and approaching me slowly.