So totally going off niche today but I get asked about how to train a house rabbit ALL the time! Never fails. If I put Snowball in my IG stories or post a photo of him I always get a dm or email with questions. This is a post I went back and forth on doing for awhile as we are no experts but I know what we did worked for us. So today I’m sharing everything we did to make Snowball into a free roam house rabbit. I’ll cover potty training, his diet, housing and all things he uses on a day to day.
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For anyone new around here I’ll give a little background to start. We have always had dogs but a year ago our daughter kept asking for a bunny. We knew nothing about bunnies. AND being such animal lovers there was no way I could have a caged animal living in our home. We started researching how to train a house rabbit and have him co-exist with our 2 maltese. (One of our beloved dogs has since passed away so we only have 1 dog now.) You can also read this post about when we brought Snowball home to live with us.
WHERE TO LOOK FOR A BUNNY
There are a lot of great rabbit rescues out there and I think it’s a great thing to rescue as rabbits are one of the most surrendered pets. We decided to go to a breeder being we had no prior rabbit experience and felt this was the best route for us.
THINGS TO LOOK FOR IN A BREEDER
Obviously you’ll want to know what bunny breed you want. Also important is making sure the rabbits are raised with dogs (if you have dogs) and have been used to being around kids and people. Rabbits are animals of prey so they are naturally very skittish. Our breeder raised Snowball with their boxers and from day 1 he’s had zero fear of dogs! You also want to make sure they have started the potty training process.
HOW TO POTTY TRAIN
This is hands down the #1 question I get. “Is he really 100% housebroken?” And the answer is yes he’s 100% housebroken. I am finding that most people don’t realize how to train a house rabbit to be housebroken. Snowball had started his potty training when we got him but let me tell you he was not housebroken when he came home. We realized this very quickly. It took us 2 solid weeks to train him but once we did he’s had zero accidents. Not even kidding. We just passed his 1 year Gotcha Day.
To start you’ll want to limit their freedom. We used a x-pen shown above. Inside we kept his potty and hay basket. Bunnies potty where they eat. As they eat hay they actually go to the bathroom which makes it pretty easy to train them. We tried several potties out but the standard cat litter box worked for us. Erik uses a small plastic basket and zip ties it on to put his hay in. I just personally feel this is more sanitary. So we basically just kept him in the x-pen with his potty in there.
If he would have an accident we just picked up the little pellets and put them inside the potty box so he would see where his pellets should go.
After a few days we opened the x-pen door and gated off about 1/2 the room. We still left the potty inside the x-pen and little by little he caught on that he should go back into the x-pen to do his business.
Once he mastered that we gave him a full room with the potty still inside the x-pen.
Clearly no one wants to see an exposed potty box in their house right? We bought this outhouse which looks like furniture and added this in once he mastered the steps above. We put the outhouse inside the x-pen (where his potty always was) and put the potty inside. Once we were able to master this we took away the x-pen and now he just uses the outhouse to do his business. He can be anywhere in the house now and he still knows where to go to the bathroom.
While on this subject I just want to say we tried several litter brands but love this one the most. It gives off zero smell, mess free, and has no harmful dust chemicals that your bunny can ingest. We change out his potty every other day.
If you are strict with the above steps and limit their freedom but increase slowly you can hopefully train your rabbit within a few weeks. The above shows what his setup is like now. You just need some self discipline and restriction early on if you want to know how to train a house rabbit.
WHAT TO FEED YOUR RABBIT
Baby bunnies under the age of 1 will have a slightly different diet so consult with your breeder or place of rescue first. But we feed Snowball a full dessert plate full of fresh, organic greens in the morning and at dinner. At bedtime he gets a 1/4 cup of this kibble. He has access to this Timothy hay 24/7. Heads up that you’ll be refilling hay throughout the day as they eat A LOT of hay! It makes up the majority of their diet. We buy this brand and store in sealed tight containers and it lasts us about 4 months.
I try to change his greens every few days. I rotate in dandelion greens, cilantro, basil, romaine lettuce and red leaf lettuce. You just have to watch the oxalates in some greens.
Treats we feed a few blueberries, banana slices or apple slices a day. I also give him 1 bale of this with his kibble at bedtime.
As for water, we use a standard ceramic bowl for him to drink out of. They tip bowls often so you’ll want to use one that is heavier. I am not a personal fan of water bottles.
WHERE TO HAVE YOUR BUNNY SLEEP
Snowball is 99% free roam meaning he has free run of our house except for when he sleeps and we are gone for long hours. Bunnies are most active at night so you want to make sure they have plenty of room to stretch out and play while you are sleeping. We do not let him have free run at night in case there was a fire and we needed to grab him or if he got into anything like wires (more on that later).
We bought this 2 story hutch that we keep upstairs in my home office. Early on we only gave him the bottom floor with his potty to make sure he understood he should potty in there. We use his same potty container. We just carry it upstairs at night into his two floor hutch. He actually follows me up to bed at night as he knows when he goes into the hutch he will get his 1/4 cup of kibble and hay bale to chew on. When we wake up in the morning we take him right out and he is free roam till bedtime.
If we leave for long hours we will just baby gate him into our family room where his potty house is.
OTHER IMPORTANT FAQS
WIRES – Yes! Rabbits will chew wires. He definitely chewed wires and furniture more as a baby but you will want to bunny proof. You can buy cord covers but you’ll also want to raise any wire cords in rooms where your bunny will often be. As for furniture, we use clear tape on any wood legs that we find he is attracted to. He rarely will chew now but on occasion has eaten a few fingers off of Summer’s Barbie dolls and torn up a few of her plastic bracelets!
GROOMING – You never give a bunny a bath. They will groom themselves but you will need to get their nails trimmed every 5-6 weeks.
SOCIALIZATION – You have to keep socialization at the forefront if you want to know how to train a house rabbit. Bunnies are not dogs. I feel like they are more like cats as they are very independent and kind of do their own thing. Obviously the more you expose them to from a young age the more adaptable they will be. He was slowly introduced to our dogs and has no fear of them. He is used to kids and loves to be held as we would hold him a lot as a baby. It did take him almost 9 months before he would give out any kisses though!
Rabbits get spooked easily! The smallest thing will send them into a tailspin and make them hide! When they are scared or threatened they will thump. Best thing is to just leave them be until they are ready to approach again. Speaking of hiding – once your rabbit is free roam keep all bedroom doors closed as they will hide under beds and are impossible to get out!
SPAY/NEUTER – We went back and forth on what to do here. Many male bunnies will spray and they say if you neuter this will stop that from happening. Snowball (knock on wood) has never once sprayed and he’s a tad over a year old. We saw a vet and he advised that he really saw no evidence that spaying or neutering will increase longevity. It comes down more to diet and home care. Some breeds with proper care can live 8 to 10 years. Sometimes more.
We also read that neutering can cause their disposition to change. Personally, we decided against it as he is never with any other bunnies, he doesn’t spray and we didn’t want to roll the dice on his personality changing. He honestly behaves so well and is such a social bunny. I would definitely consult with your vet first and find one that specializes in rabbits.
I think this should cover the basics of how to train a house rabbit. Since getting Snowball I have 2 friends who got a bunny after us and also made their bunnies free roam.
It will take some discipline but if you commit it can easily be done. Seeing what a social animal Snowball is I can never imagine keeping a bunny in a cage. People are often in shock when they come to our home and find out we have a free roam bunny. Aside from the occasional piece of hay on the floor and him hopping around you would never know. I think people think bunnies are smelly and that is so not the case. I am absolutely no bunny expert but these are just the things that work for us. I’m here for helping others let their bunnies live the free roam life! They are such amazing little pets!
Any other bunny questions please feel free to comment below! Linking below everything we personally use.
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INDOOR PET POTTY HOUSE | 2 STORY HUTCH | HAY | KIBBLE | LITTER | X-PEN GATE | BABY GATES | SMALLER HAY TREATS
Deborah Sherwood says
We had Hollandlop ear bunnies for years. We did not go with a real breeder instead we bought them from some kids that were in 4-h and were well cared for. We had males and females. The males were neutered because that is the easier option for bunnies. Due to where we live we were able to keep the bunnies outside. I have to add no-one was home all day. The hutch was high and we put 2 cedar blocks next to the hutch so the bunnies could come and go as they please. They had to go into their hutch at night. Peter Rabbit and jellybean had a smaller wood box that the 2 could go in at night and snuggle. In the summer we had to put frozen water bottles in their hutch. They were outdoors so their nails did not need to be cut. I am happy that you were able to house train your bunny in the house. All of my pets have always gone potty outside. My bunnies only ate rabbit food and would not even eat a carrot if one was offered. They did come into the house when the kids were holding them. I also know that 2 same sex bunnies do not get along so if Snowball needs a friend it needs to be female. I am really amazed at how you were able to train Snowball.
Thank you for sharing! They are amazing little pets. Don’t think we’d get another but good to know about it needing to a female. We are amazed too. Don’t know if we got lucky but he was def easy to train! ❤️❤️