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

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Old 02-09-2013, 02:10 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Teaching my GSD and pet Lionlop Rabbit to coexist peacefully

Hi friends I need your help desperately.

I recently got 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. He walks wonderfully on the leash and has learnt all to well that tugging on it doesn't lead to good results. He is my pride and joy. But here is the major problem.

We have had a pet rabbit and he is like my first son. He is probably THE smartest pet rabbit who is so well trained to go into his cage to do his business and to follow us around and come when called. Yes I am talking about a rabbit here.

The problem is that everytime we try to introduce our GSD to the rabbit (by having the rabbit in the cage or vice versa while the GSD is lounging in his closed crate and rabbit is outside of it), it almost leads to a very tense scene. The GSD immediately gets very alert, his ears perk up, his stance is a forward "charging" sort of a stance and he gives an unmistakeable vibe like he is going to "go after the rabbit". This gets me and the wife VERY SCARED because there is NO way we can let our GSD kill or hurt out rabbit. This would devastate us.

So I turn to you to seek guideance and suggestions as to how our GSD can be trained so as to be calm in front of the rabbit and get to accept him like a sibbling more than a prey or something he can eat. PLEASE help us because we need this to work out otherwise the very sad thing to do would be to return him to the breeder (which we do not have neither the courage nor the heart to do). We NEED TO make this work.

Please let me know training tips or methods to follow to make this introduction and eventual co-existence work. We have tried using the gentle command and giving him treats and making him calm through positive association around the rabbit. But after a few seconds he stands up and wants to go after the rabbit.

Thanks so much in advance for your time.
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Old 02-09-2013, 02:15 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I had a puppy and a Netherland dwarf. While I trained her to leave the rabbit alone if we pass it on lead, I would never EVER leave them together in any situation. It will end in bloodshed. Heck, some of my dog's toys look like my rabbit, like her flirt pole. It's in his nature to chase to rabbit. So it's a little unfair to ask that of him, in my opinion.

I would seperate the dog and the rabbit. Crate the dog if you have the rabbit out. Drape a towel over the crate if the rabbit msut be let out in the same room.
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Old 02-09-2013, 02:23 PM   #3 (permalink)
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There was a thread about this a while ago:

My dog killed our pet rabbit!!!!

Morbid title for you, but there's some good advice in there. Hope it helps!
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Old 02-09-2013, 02:28 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Never leave the two together alone no matter how well you think your GSD is trained.

That's like asking the wolf to watch the sheep.

Dogs like to chase, kill, and eat rabbits, and all the training in the world is not going to erase that instinct.
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Old 02-09-2013, 03:00 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I have tried this with our bunnies and WD but he will eat them alive if given the chance. He cannot even focus on toys or treats when he hears the word "bunny". And he is very obedient otherwise but in this case the predator in him takes the better of him. I have given up.
I just keep them safe from each other and spend time alone with the buns.
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Old 02-10-2013, 09:51 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Hi everyone

Thank you so much for your responses. It is very sad that I came onto this forum hoping and thinking that somehow someone just might weave a magic wand and give me that ONE THING that I could do which would turn both these lovable pets into best friends (just as I saw in a couple youtube videos). But I was clearly in denial and all of you are right....how can I expect my GSD's predatory instincts to just get extinguished for something so "tempting" as a rabbit to him.

I don't know...I am quite distraught because this and a couple of signs are pointing toward me to return this boy to the breeder. It is very heart breaking because our rabbit has totally freaked out and is demonstrating aggressive and nervous behaviors that he never before did. And we don't want anything really bad to happen to him as they are super sensitive creatures. And the thought of returning the dog is very crushing also. Only I am to blame to have brought this on ourselves.
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Old 02-10-2013, 09:58 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I had my sisters rabbit for a couple months when my GSD was 4-6 months old. She loved that rabbit. I never put the dog in the cage and let the rabbit out in front of it. First I put them both in their cages and put the cages next to each other, then I left the rabbit in the cage and let them(all three of my dogs) smell it through the cage. Within a couple days they were all fine. We went to the pet store yesterday that has lots of puppies, well my dog didn't want anything to do with the puppies, but she was kissing the bunny rabbit and wanted to take that home
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Old 02-10-2013, 10:50 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Meshuggah View Post
I was clearly in denial and all of you are right....how can I expect my GSD's predatory instincts to just get extinguished for something so "tempting" as a rabbit to him.
Glad you are able to see the reality of the situation. Please research and fully understand the drives of the breed - prey drive is a carnal instinct and you cannot trust a fox in the chicken coop.

Is containment and separation a possibility for your family? Dog gates, crate and rotate, separate rooms, xpen, outside run/kennel with house time rotated in, enclosures, etc. You cannot expect the two to free roam together - that is completely unrealistic.
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Old 02-10-2013, 11:57 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by llombardo View Post
I had my sisters rabbit for a couple months when my GSD was 4-6 months old. She loved that rabbit. I never put the dog in the cage and let the rabbit out in front of it. First I put them both in their cages and put the cages next to each other, then I left the rabbit in the cage and let them(all three of my dogs) smell it through the cage. Within a couple days they were all fine. We went to the pet store yesterday that has lots of puppies, well my dog didn't want anything to do with the puppies, but she was kissing the bunny rabbit and wanted to take that home
Lucky you!!! I was SO, SO hoping and wishing for such a situation. But right now as things seem there is NO way I can let the rabbit come close to this guy. Maybe he just wants to play...or maybe he is dying to charge at the bunny and tear him apart. I can't tell....what i can certainly see is a very aggressive posture toward the rabbit and my heart doesn't allow him to be let loose in front of the rabbit. It will surely lead to blood shed
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Old 02-10-2013, 12:03 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Meshuggah View Post
Lucky you!!! I was SO, SO hoping and wishing for such a situation. But right now as things seem there is NO way I can let the rabbit come close to this guy. Maybe he just wants to play...or maybe he is dying to charge at the bunny and tear him apart. I can't tell....what i can certainly see is a very aggressive posture toward the rabbit and my heart doesn't allow him to be let loose in front of the rabbit. It will surely lead to blood shed
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.
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