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How do I get my BC to not kill my new Bunny?


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We had two guinea pigs and had the same problem with Dexter...He would sit by the enclosure and fixate on any movement. It was an open top pen and he would run around trying to find the pigs when they were hiding. When they ran from one end to the other he would chase them. I'm honestly not sure if he would have grabbed one or not.

 

In the end we had to keep them in a seperate room to keep the stress down and eventually re-homed them when our kids lost interest.

 

I think rabbits could be a different story as some are quite tough and stand their ground. My wife raised rabbits when she was a teenager and said they would chase the family dog around if it got to close.

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We've had a similar experience, except they weren't afraid of the dogs. Our guinea pigs have LOVED every dog they've met, and intentionally strut their stuff around the cage whenever the dog is looking. Penelope, our oldest guinea pig takes it one step further and kisses the dog's nose whenever she can get to it!

 

We did have issues with one of the dogs fixating on them, but we just kept the dog out of that room and it wasn't a problem.

 

I found it a lot easier to manage guineapig/dog interactions than bunny/dog interactions. The piggies have a huge cage in our dining room, and get out of cage time in our kitchen, so it's pretty easy to just keep the dog out of those rooms. The bunnies are more challenging since they have free roam of the apartment whenever they're out of their cages. Whenever we have a dog over we close off the bedroom so the bunnies can have undisturbed run time, but they aren't happy about it. The hallway is Bettie's runway, so whenever she's denied access to it she gets pretty grumpy.

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Nan could care less about any animals on the farm, aside from the sheep....she has a disdain for all poultry, etc.....but a rabbit.....when I had my two open heart surgeries and she was my protector....a wild bunny made the mistake of coming onto the front porch....she went after it with all teeth bared....since then, she will chase and kill a bunny down. She will run in terror from a kitten or a chicken. She would be the last dog that I would say had any killer instinct of all of my dogs!

 

If a dog is fixated on a rabbit, chicken, whatever, it is not good. I do not allow any staring of any livestock or poultry on the farm. I had gotten a dog that was allowed to stare at sheep for two years....she turned out to be grippy and when she wasn't grippy, her eye would stick and she wouldn't move. The grip was because she was not allowed access and once she got accesss, it was a a reaction and the sticky eye was a result of staring at them for two years. I do not allow my dogs to stare at sheep either. The kennels are in the barn or they are in the house.

 

If you keep the rabbit, you will have to manage the relationship. I would stop the dog from access to the rabbit and put the rabbit in a safe area. I have had neighbor's dog rip out the bottom of my rabbit hutches and kill my pets rabbits, when I was a child. The sound of my pet rabbit screaming still remains burned in my mind forever....after she was killed, I never owned a pet rabbit again.

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I have had neighbor's dog rip out the bottom of my rabbit hutches and kill my pets rabbits, when I was a child. The sound of my pet rabbit screaming still remains burned in my mind forever....after she was killed, I never owned a pet rabbit again.

 

I have known this to happen on two occasions with friends, hence my dubiousness of keeping a rabbit and a dog together. The rabbit is the quintessential prey animal. Canids recognize this. I am aware that people have had success with keeping the two species together amicably, but by the same token, I've known people whose city cats and dogs were deemed "street smart" for years until they were run over and killed.

 

Animals are not I-pods. You can't just program them not to do things they are hard-wired to do. Training and supervision can both fail. Doors get left open. Predatory responses can get triggered after years of co-habitation. For me it isn't worth the risk. YMMV.

 

Just to be clear - I'm not telling anybody what to do. Just seconding the caution and reasoning of Delta Blues Tess. :mellow:

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If you err on the side of caution, you won't regret it. If you err on the side of not-being-cautious-enough, you will regret it.

 

That said, I repeat that I've had dogs and rabbits that got along wonderfully well. And I've had dogs and rabbits that would have been dinner partners, but the rabbit would not have liked his part in the dinner arrangements.

 

Again, for all the individual toughness a rabbit may have, rabbits are fragile (particularly when compared to a 40# dog) and stress alone can kill them. A lot depends on the individual animals but remember that the rabbit is dependent on the owner entirely for his/her welfare.

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The sound of my pet rabbit screaming still remains burned in my mind forever....after she was killed, I never owned a pet rabbit again.

 

That's just awful, Diane. What a traumatic thing for a child to have to go through.

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I'm having the same issue with my young dog Tess. She fixates on my hamsters if I let her and acts quite predatory. I have held them in my hands and let her sniff them through my fingers and so far she hasn't tried to grab one but I'll never trust her just with how fixated she seems and how intent she gets with quick motions. My oldest border collie is perfect. I can let the hamsters run on the floor and she will sniff them and ignore them. I can put them on her back and let them crawl off and she ignores them. I was hoping for a similar reaction with my pup but I think her personality is just different since both dogs were around hamsters right from pups. With her all I'm really hoping is that I can teach her to ignore them because I don't like the fixating. They are all on my computer desk and she has to pass me to get close enough to fixate so as soon as I notice she's staring I tell her to go lie down or "get out" which means go away. She loves my cats and is very gentle/submissive with them...but we have some 5 week old kittens at work and she does the same fixating and actually was whining, panting and chewing at the bars of the cage she was in trying to get at the kittens who were in the cage above her (I work in a vet clinic). I made the staff move them to the farthest kennel from her so she wouldn't continue that behaviour!

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Thanks for the advice, its all very good. I guess the best I can hope for is that Sam will turn out to be like Border Collie Crazy's dogs and stare at the rabbit in a nice way. It sounds like a lot of people are scared that the rabbit is stressed but this rabbit is pretty brazen for a rabbit. She eats her pellets, and parsley, and washes her face right in front of Sam like he is not even there. It is a female and she does not seem afraid of Sam, the cats, or people. She comes up to the front of the cage when she sees Sam, or my other dog, and she rubs her cheeks on the sides of the cage like she is trying to leave a scent, so I think she fancies him. I also think the rabbit likes being in the living room so it can watch us. I think it would be bored and lonely if it was in a room by itself. Since I posted, I have let her out of the cage while I hold Sam by his collar, he didn't try to kill her, he sniffed her and his tail wagged back and forth like it does when he greats another dog, looks more like he wants to play than kill, but since he seems so excited I still don't trust him. The rabbit walks/hops right up to him— she doesn't seem afraid at all. I've also been sitting on my sofa holding the rabbit with one hand and petting Sam with the other hand and telling him to relax, "be a good good dog Sam". He finally calms down and rests his chin on my knee, and starts to look relaxed and sleepy eyed- but then the rabbit moves and he is wide awake again, staring. I do think Sam is getting better with the rabbit, so I want to keep working with him and see how it goes. I don't think I would ever be able to let the rabbit be free range though, running around the house or backyard. I am planning on building a nice rabbit run outside.

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Here is a picture a a BC focusing on a lamb, with a look that is a lot like Sam's expression when he looks at the bunny. The BC in this picture isn't going to attack the lamb, so I think its possible that even though Sam is focusing on the rabbit, he may have no intention of trying to hurt it— maybe its just that border collie herding stare.

 

12/52 Beth at Lambing Time

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Here is a picture a a BC focusing on a lamb, with a look that is a lot like Sam's expression when he looks at the bunny. The BC in this picture isn't going to attack the lamb, so I think its possible that even though Sam is focusing on the rabbit, he may have no intention of trying to hurt it— maybe its just that border collie herding stare.

 

Right. In that photo the dog is working the sheep. I have a rule in my house: no working of sheep without my permission, and absolutely no eating or working of other non-herd animals. Whether your dog is working this rabbit or planning his next meal is not terribly relevant - either way your dog is applying pressure on your rabbit by staring at it. It's just not fair to the rabbit. Period.

 

Frankly I think this situation has the opportunity to go badly in so many ways - mostly due to the fact that the habit of staring is already entrenched. Obsessing over rabbits(or hamsters, cats, or whatever) is a bad thing for everyone involved. It's bad for your dog. Down the road I think you'll find it winds up being bad for you too. There's only the finest of lines there. A well placed and appropriate grip on a sheep is one thing... a grip on your rabbit may well be lights out.

 

When I was a kid we used to let my cat get in the cage with the guinea pig. It was funny to us, and the cat never hurt the guinea pig physically. When we'd let the guinea pig out of the cage they seemed to play together (in our little reality). Looking back now I'm horrified at those memories and wish I could go back and take it all back.

 

How does he act when the rabbit is out of sight?

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How does he act when the rabbit is out of sight?

 

When the rabbit is in sight he is actually less focused more relaxed. Its when the bunny goes into its box, that he is suddenly fixated on it.

Its been a few weeks now, and I have taken the rabbit out of the hutch with Sam out at the same time. Sam actually was happy to see the rabbit, and frisked around it, when he got to frisky and close to the rabbit I told him "no" "leave it" which he seemed happy to do. Then ran over to the hutch to stare at the box the rabbit goes into. Its like when the rabbit is out in the open, its not nearly as exciting anymore, when it goes into its box and can't be seen is what makes Sam interested. The rabbit is a female and has a crush on Sam, I think she is "in heat" she comes up to the front of the cage to Sam when he is there, and she rubs her chin and face on everything to spread her sent, and she sprays (I think I'm going to have to get her spayed). But, Sam gets bored when she is out in front of the cage in plain site and leaves her alone.

 

I should also add, Sam stares really intensely at a lot of things. For instance, The next door neighbors son has a dog, and when he comes to visit his dog sits in a certain spot on the other side of the fence, and Sam and the dog sniff and bark and whine at each other whenever the son brings his dog— but the son, only brings the dog once every few months. But Sam goes to that spot, everyday, even when the dog hasn't been there for months, and stares at the spot as if the dogs there. Now he is doing that same thing with the rabbit hutch and rabbit.

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In regards to your rabbit spraying, it definitely sounds like it's time to get that bunny fixed. Aside from all the behavioral benefits, there are some pretty substantial health benefits as well. Female rabbits have high instances of uterine problems which can be completely prevented through spaying.

 

Both of my rabbits are fixed, and have been for some time, but we occasionally take in pre-op foster bunnies for the shelter. The very young rabbits are wonderful at first, but once they hit puberty they morph into complete nightmares. Any litterbox habits they had go out the window. Spraying, biting, obsessive scent marking, aggression, and territorial behavior are all normal parts of adolescence.

 

Check out rabbit.org for more info. With rabbits, it's extremely important that you find a competent vet that's experienced in exotics. Dog/cat medicine does not transfer over to rabbits, and attempts to do so often prove fatal. The House Rabbit Society has a recommended vet list that you can look over.

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