Teaching my GSD and pet Lionlop Rabbit to coexist peacefully - Page 2 - German Shepherd Dog Forums

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Old 02-10-2013, 12:00 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I wouldn't allow them to loose together either, because whether its play or not, once the dog gets a grip on the rabbit, it won't end well. Have you tried having the rabbit in the cage and the dog near the cage, but not able to get to the rabbit? Does the dog know leave it? Even after all of this, the dog and rabbit will probably not do well together, but its a nice safety net to know that in case the rabbit gets out, the dog will listen to you until you can get the rabbit to safety.

The dog understands and follows leave it, stay, out, and gentle pretty well. He is quite consistent in execution but I kid you not, something just takes over him or possesses him around the rabbit and then its almost like I have to lift up this 85 lbs gorilla and get him out of the room.

I have tried your suggestion of having the rabbit in its cage and bringing the dog close to him to get used to his presence. It starts of slightly calmly and very quickly develops into a VERY tense stance and then leading to him going after the cage and wanting to get to the rabbit inside the cage. And that is when I have to intervene with force and try to literally lift him to get out of the room. When he tries to be calm, I have tried to praise him pet him and give him treats but it lasts only for a second and before I know it he starts to charge after the cage or at least appears to become VERY anxious to get inside it to the rabbit.

Alternatively, we have tried letting the rabbit near the dog crate when the dog is in the crate. Ironically the rabbit is one fearless tasmanian devil. But as soon as he comes close to the dog or his field of vision then again the dog becomes very tense and wants to tear out of the crate.

I don't know what to do, we have tried positive association/ reinforcement but it doesn't work. We have tried keeping them cordoned off from each other but that has started to lead to behavioral problems in the rabbit with his unprecedented digging and chewing which never happened before. And at the end of the day it is causing MAJOR stress to me and my wife because we have to give each of them divided attention and this family dynamic just doesn't seem to be working out.

Like I said the thought of returning the dog is absolutely crushing and it doesn't even compute fully in our brains because he is an otherwise SUCH an obedient and super-smart, well adjusted dog. We are in a very bad situation
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Old 02-10-2013, 08:28 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Nature abhors a vacuum. Rather than putting bunny and dog in proximity to each other and expecting the dog to come up with his own, acceptable behaviors, have dog on leash and do some obedience work. Get his mind working on something else. Do not let him fill in the blanks on his own!

It could very well be that this dog is just not a good choice to share a home with a rabbit. Not fair to the dog and certainly not fair to the rabbit if that is the case.
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Old 02-10-2013, 08:36 PM   #13 (permalink)
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There is a technique using low stim ecollar that WILL have a high chance of working with the dog but with my dog who was like that towards critters ..... yes we "fixed" her but I would never ever trust her with a prey animal.

I got her to the point where she could walk through a flock of chickens (and of course they are clucking and flapping and being the supreme prey attraction) and ignore them by using his techniques.

You can google Lou Castle and get his take on it. Seriosly - we did it with my female after extracting a rooster from her mouth and after she chased a goat under a horse and through an electric cattle fence, took the shock, and kept on chasing.

But I always felt there was some level of risk. That is a lot to ask the rabbit to go through as well. It is a prey animal and it KNOWS it is a prey animal. I know rabbits don't handle stress very well at all. And my dog still WANTED to chase prey animals. She just thought better of it and stopped herself.

Unless you can keep them 100% separated all time.........I would be very concerned.
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Old 02-11-2013, 02:59 PM   #14 (permalink)
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but I kid you not, something just takes over him or possesses him around the rabbit
That's his predatory side come out and he will kill your bunny most likely. I think you may just as well give up on trying to get him to get along with your bunny. At best he may show some impulse control but if one day you are not watching.........
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Old 02-11-2013, 03:14 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Maybe I'm ignorant but why does the bunny get free reign? Every bunny I've ever seen gets put in a cage and let out once in a while when people want to interact with it.

I would never trust my dog around anything prey sized. Even if I had trained him to ignore. He ignores squirrels pretty well, but when it comes to bunnies...they're toast. He's had a little tracking training, but I've been dragged as he tracked a bunny for about 200 yards and then realized what it was (it was in sight) and tried to go after it.

If you really think its not fair to your bunny to now be demoted to a certain area...then I do suggest you find another home for the dog. But I don't see anything wrong with crating one or the other and keeping them separate...of course I would also not mind putting a rabbit in a cage for a long time as I don't think they need as much room as a dog (personal opinion).
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Old 02-11-2013, 03:19 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I really think they have nothing to gain from being friends with each other. So other than being a hassle for your family to have to commit to spending time to both of them, they really aren't troubled by their lack of a relationship.

In fact, the rabbit may even be glad.

When I had my Netherland dwarf, my vet told me that rabbits can be very stoic. They don't show fear, pain, or illness because that makes them more vulnerable prey. My rabbit could be literally dying of fear from my dog being there and look normal, which is why I didn't introduce them past the first time around to see if there was a possibility for them to even be put in the same room when crated. I wasn't sure what her reaction was, stoic or really nonchalant.

I was able to manage both rabbit and dog well, but both it was on a "crate and rotate" schedule. The dog obviously requires more of your time outright engaged and committed in activity, but the rabbit was first, and it's understandable that you feel very attached and emotionally obligated to do best by her.

Best of luck in your choices. Please don't try to make them friends. It will end in bloodshed. There are breeds, and individual dogs within breeds that can befriend rabbits. But from how you're describing your dog's reaction, it doesn't seem to be the case.
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Old 02-11-2013, 03:21 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Maybe I'm ignorant but why does the bunny get free reign? Every bunny I've ever seen gets put in a cage and let out once in a while when people want to interact with it.

I would never trust my dog around anything prey sized. Even if I had trained him to ignore. He ignores squirrels pretty well, but when it comes to bunnies...they're toast. He's had a little tracking training, but I've been dragged as he tracked a bunny for about 200 yards and then realized what it was (it was in sight) and tried to go after it.

If you really think its not fair to your bunny to now be demoted to a certain area...then I do suggest you find another home for the dog. But I don't see anything wrong with crating one or the other and keeping them separate...of course I would also not mind putting a rabbit in a cage for a long time as I don't think they need as much room as a dog (personal opinion).
My rabbit had a "expen" sort of situation made of tiny little foot tall metal shelving material. This was laid out to be around 6 feet long and 4 feet wide. She also gets time to just run around and be a rabbit, and many do choose that if their rabbits are potty trained.

My dog would've easily jumped this little enclosure if they were free in the same area.
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Old 02-17-2013, 09:26 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Thanks for the mention Nancy. I appreciate it. HERE'S THE LINK to the article that Nancy was talking about.

Using this method I've had pretty good success in training dogs not to chase animals that they consider to be prey. But if your dog has pronounced prey drive, and you can't tell at this age, it may not work if the prey animal does something that brings out that drive in the dog. As long as you're present, and the dog is under command, you can probably control this behavior, if you train the recall and the sit with the Ecollar, per my methods. But I'd not leave them alone together. It would just take a few seconds for a GSD to kill or injure a rabbit.
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Old 07-03-2013, 04:01 AM   #19 (permalink)
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We have a 3 year old rabbit and a 11 month old female GSD. We've had both since about 8 weeks. We still don't let the two loose at the same time.

Both of their cages are in the family room on opposite sides of the room. I know rabbits are stoic, but I'm pretty convinced our rabbit is not at all afraid of the dog. She'll flop in her cage with the dog staring at her. We feel bad for the rabbit. So we let the rabbit have free reign of the family room while we're at work (the dog goes to work with my wife or I every day). When we come home, we keep the dog on the leash and shake the rabbit's treat bag. The rabbit will run through the dogs feet and around in circles before hopping in her cage. She's more interested in treats than being afraid of the dog.

The GSD doesn't show any signs of agression toward the rabbit. She does like to follow the rabbit around though. One time my wife forgot the rabbit was out and the dog found her first. But the dog just stood over the rabbit licking her. Luckily this has only happened once.

We leave the dog out most of the time now. And other than the rabbit running around her cage like crazy, the dog totally ignores the rabbit and her cage. The dog will go stare at the rabbit if we yell at the rabbit for doing something bad.

After a full day at the beach, the dog was exhausted so we let both of them out at the same time to test the waters a bit. The dog just laid with her face on the floor and let the rabbit do her thing. The rabbit clicked (purring) and romped around like there was no dog.



But I definitely echo everyoen else's caution. We still almost never let the dog and rabbit out at the same time. And when we do the dog is on a short leash. A few times the dog has made a sudden movement toward the rabbit. I didn't wait to find out if it was another lick or a bite. Now the dog is a little afraid to interact with the rabbit. And I'd like to keep it that way.
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Old 07-03-2013, 05:31 AM   #20 (permalink)
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a 6.5 month old amazing GSD. His temperament is amazing and very stable. He is BIG (comes in at 84.5 lbs already) and he is VERY strong already. He is super smart as just within the first week of being with him I have been able to train him to consistently follow SIT, DOWN, STAY, PLAY DEAD, LEAVE IT, CRATE, etc.
It's great!!! You've got a true GSD from Working Line, and it means, that you've got a road to success redcarpeted. Working line GSDs you can train absolutely everything, you can make them agressive, but you also can make them incredibly docile and amiable. Keep on consulting the professionals on this Forum on every step of this matter while watching your rabbit and your dog' relationship in progress.
So, how you describe, they are two males. Dogs recognise sexes intuitively, they know who of us is a man, and who is the woman. They know smelly cats and stinky ferrets, they know fouling pigs and sounding horses, they know their sex. So, one of your males is an intruder in your house. It couldn't be otherwise between two young males. Your dog wouldn't react on your rabbit as a preditor reacts on his natural prey, because he was never taught that the rabbit and his smell could promise a meal. He, the intruder, can react on the rabbit as one male react on presence of the other, and dog males at the age of 6 months like to engage in a rough play when they see any possible companion. The intruder always behaves agressively, he has to, and your task is - not to suppress his agression, but redirect it.
To stop both males competing for territory you should separate them by providing a shelter where the smell of the other could be lesser detected. It could be nice to leave your dog outside for night, night smells and sounds will take his attention away from the worried rabbit.
Sometimes, rabbits behave agressively towards house dogs. They chase them round the back yard trying to bite, really pushing that barking bit out of their territory, because male rabbits, as any other males are territorial. You might think you know your rabbit, but he might prove you wrong. The tables might swap in the way the least expected, you might train your dog to be gentle, but your rabbit might start taking advantage, attacking your dog, dog's instincts reviving, and - again, very unpleasant conflict, inside out conflict.
IMHO, you should teach them both that they have their own territory, and their own place to sleep, and their own plate to eat. Meet them outside on the grass more often, playing ball with your dog (leashed) and teaching him not to do any movement towards the rabbit, it should be a forbidden toy for him. Ask him to lie down every time he pulls toward the rabbit. These sessions gradually could become walks together in the park with your rabbit and your dog unleashed. I'd suggest for inside the house training to teach your dog to be patient at command "Sit!", he must keep sitting whilst your rabbit hops around or sits on your wife's lap. For a short while first, then make it longer, finally, doesn't matter what your GSD feels towards your bunny - he will sit, lie down and just watch him. They might hardly stand each other in the future, but be optimistic, always tell your dog in human words that you love him more than that fluffy thing, all males need to be told it. Sure, you will tell your rabbit absolutely the same.
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