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.