Hello, Doug here. One of the best parts of having a rabbit as a pet is letting it hop around the house with you. However, letting your pet roam comes with the extra chore of cleaning up the trails of droppings that have been so nicely left for you if your pet isn’t taught better. It isn’t too hard to teach your pet to go in a designated space, so I thought I’d share some tips on how to litter train you bunny. I will go over some standard techniques as well as other practices that have worked for me in the past with my pets.
Preparing a Potty Area
The first thing to think about is where you want your bunny to “go”, and what materials make the best litter. Don’t use clay, clumping litter or wood chips you are using for the cage. Organic and paper based pellets and litter are a good choice to start with. I personally use corn cob bedding. Most rabbits will end up laying in the litter box, too, so its good to have something rather soft and absorbent.
Once you’ve chosen a location and a style of litter, place the pan and add an inch or two of the substrate. Cat litter boxes work well, and so do the convenient corner litter boxes made for small pets. My rabbits use a cat litter box in one corner for their potty and a corner litter box to sleep in. Some people make a wood frame to create an area and just put the litter in there.
Steps to Successful Litter Training
First off, supervision is key to successful training. If a new bunny is allowed to go to the bathroom anywhere it feels like, its going to be hard to correct the problem. At first, keep the rabbit primarily in the cage and monitor where they tend to go to the bathroom. Once an area has been chosen by your pet, place the litter box there. In the beginning it may be necessary for you to pick up the droppings and place them in the litter box to show your rabibit why the box is there.
I like to place a supply of timothy hay within reach, so they have something to nibble on while they’re doing their business.
Once they are used to using the litter box inside the cage, allow your bunny out in a limited area. Remove the litter box from the cage and place it somewhere in the area where he’s roaming. Watch for signs that he might be ready to go to the bathroom. He may use his box right away…if the bunny uses the litter box, reward him with a treat! If not, pick up the droppings and place them in the litter box. If you notice your bunny heading to the same spot to go try moving the litter box there
Patience Pays Off
Accidents will happen during the training period, but punishment should never be used. Rabbits cannot make a connection as to why they are being repremanded like a dog might. Gently pick them up and place them in the litter box. The key is to get them in the litter box before they go to the bathroom and to not let waste build up outside of the box. With time and patience your bunny will get into a habit of only going into their litter box.
My rabbit’s cage door is usually always open. He has the freedom to hop around my room, and when he needs to go to the bathroom he hops back into his cage and goes in his litter box. The process sounds daunting, but usually goes smoothly if you’re willing to work with your pet’s natural tendencies and provide undivided attention during their free time in the beginning.
If anyone has another tip or trick that has worked for you in training, or questions about training your pet, please share in our comments section!