Train Your Dog Month Challenge, only with a Rabbit

Something Wagging This Way Comes
I took part in the Train Your Dog Rabbit Month Challenge Pamela at Something Wagging held during January. Last year I did my challenge with my Senegal parrot Eco. This year I decided to stick with my non-canine species and work with my English Lop rabbit, Glee.

I’ve done a little clicker training with Glee. She learn go to your mat pretty quickly so I thought this time I tried teaching her to retrieve a basket. Glee decided to give me a few challenges to work with.

  • She’s a shark with treats. Giving her a treat by hand could involve blood letting.
  • She’s got long ears and a huge dewlap. These get in the way of her finding a treat I place on the floor.
  • She’s got a little bit of an attitude. I don’t call her the diva bunny for nuthin’. You can hear her grunting in the video (she’s the most vocal rabbit I’ve ever had).
  • She gets bored quickly. I can’t do too many reps during a session or I lose her.

What she didn’t realize is how much I love the challenges that come up with training. It’s why I love clicker training. When something isn’t going as planned you have to stop and think about what you need to change to get the behavior you want. It’s my favorite part of training.

Some of the things I decided to do to help with the above behaviors were-

  • I used a plastic lid as a treat station to help with the sharking and long ears. This gave her one place to go and get the treat.
  • I tried to set the basket a distance from her as she seemed to get upset and cop a ‘tude when I set it too close. The basket would end up all over. I’m on the lookout for a small plastic basket that will be more stable.
  • In the first video, you can see she stopped training toward the end. That was 2 reps of 5 treats each which was too much for her. For each training session I went to 1 repetition of 5 treats for each training session and that worked much better.

We don’t quite have the completed behavior yet. No one would want Glee as their Easter Bunny the way she’s throwing that basket, but we’re getting there.


The videos below are a bit of our practice. Please excuse the mess under the dressers!   The first video is our first session. The second one is our latest session. I’ll be sure to share the video when we finally get finish the behavior.

13 comments to Train Your Dog Month Challenge, only with a Rabbit

  • That was awesome! And I loved seeing video from the beginning of the process as well as seeing Glee farther along. What a great trick.

    You make such a good point, too, that clicker training is not just stimulating to the one being trained but also to the trainer as we try to figure out how to get the results we’re looking for.

    Great teamwork with you and Glee.

    I’m working to get the linky tool back up soon. I’ll make sure everyone is on it and will be promoting everyone’s posts tomorrow.

    Thanks for joining in the challenge fun.
    Pamela recently posted..What the Heck is Wrong With This Foster Dog?My Profile

    • Thanks Pamela! I put it on the linky, now I just have to get visiting some of the other bloggers.

      It’s definitely reinforcing to me to have to put some thought into what we need to do to accomplish our training goal. It makes you realize each dog’s an individual and what works for one might not work for another.

  • Wow Dawn, you amaze me. I would never think to do something like this!!
    Jodi recently posted..Holler Holler for a CollarMy Profile

  • Glee is too funny! I love how the majority of people assume rabbits are sweet-natured and while I am sure Glee is that as well, she is also quite feisty! I loved watching her in these videos as she reminded me so much of my dog’s attitude. We’ve actually been working on a very similar behaviour for Train Your Dog Month and have not been nearly as successful as you yet. Retrieving is not something that comes naturally to my dog so we’ve got a long way to go. Judging by your practice sessions, it looks like I have got the right technique at least.

    Good luck with the rest of your training! I applaud you for sticking with it!
    Kristine recently posted..Real Life Confession #13: I am a Challenge FailureMy Profile

    • Thanks Kristine! Not all rabbits are snuggly bunnies and Glee is a good example of that. I actually started clicker training her because she was a biter.

      With dogs we tend to spend a lot of time teaching them what NOT to put in their mouths, that it can make us work for that retrieve. I’m sure you and Shiva will have it soon!

  • How awesome! She’s a big bunny and she does have a big dulap! Looks like a good challenge for sure!
    Ann Paws recently posted..The Difference Between Hypothyroid & Hyperthyroid Conditions in PetsMy Profile

  • Dawn watching you gave me a clearer idea of how to clicker train than any I’d seen…it’s always been a mystery to me how to get started and you’ve cleared that up for me so thank you! Now i have to get out the clicker and give it a try…Watching Glee was great…she may not be carrying that basket yet, but you see she knows it’s important…I’m sure she’ll be carrying it by this Easter and can’t wait to see that video…Is that Eco we hear in the background?
    Gizmo (@GizmoGeodog) recently posted..A DOG’S PAWSOME POTPOURRIMy Profile

    • You’re too kind! For some reason video taping my training sessions with Glee brings out the worse in my clicker training skills.:>)

      Definitely give clicker training a try! Once you get going with it you can see the possibilities. Here’s a video I did of Glee about 2 1/2 years ago teaching her “go to mat”. That’s a nice easy behavior to start with. The video isn’t the greatest, I made some mistakes, the biggest being having too long of a training session, but we did get the behavior despite my bad training.

  • […] Dawn of NEPA Pets began clicker training her rabbit, Glee, to pick up a basket (love it!) […]

  • She’s beautiful! And you are too smart for clicker training a bunny. Good grief, I have enough trouble clicker training my dog!

    That was an awesome challenge performed marvelously. And so much fun to watch.

    PS – I love animals with attitude. 🙂
    Leslie recently posted..Wordless Wednesday 77 – On the sidelinesMy Profile

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