You may have been tempted to get yourself both a bunny and a labrador for your home. But you may also have that little inkling telling you that it isn’t a right move. Well, we got you covered here.
Both rabbits and labradors are thought to be as different as night and day that renders them an unsuitable pair for parent owners but there’s more to this than meet the eyes.
On the flipside, you’d be amazed by how the nuances between both of these pets can be leveraged for the better under right conditions.
Here’s whether or not Labradors and Rabbits get along well:
Labradors do have a much higher success rate compared to other dogs in bonding with a rabbit. Despite their differences, they do stand a chance in getting along well provided that a Labrador puppy grows up with an existing young rabbit with proper socialization, training and exposure early on. The compatibility between the two are contingent upon their temperament, gender, age as well as the dog’s prey drive which are discussed below.
In order to properly analyze the compatibility of both domestic pets, a better grasp and tips on their natural breed characteristics as well as on their individual temparaments are of utmost importance.
Amongst the factors that we’ll dive into are as follows:
- Labrador Prey Drive
- Individual Temperament
Note: Our articles are comprehensive and in-depth. Feel free to expand the table of contents below and skip ahead to sections that interest you.
Labrador Prey Drive
It’s a no brainer that dogs in general have been infamous for rabbit hunting to this day, and that’s highly contingent upon a dog’s prey drive. Dogs have also been notorious for chasing rabbits or any other smaller animals for that matter.
However, Labradors in general have a low prey drive because they have a relatively dormant prey drive which require an extensive training to be efficient in hunting. It doesn’t go without saying that Labradors won’t act on their natural instincts of chasing after smaller animals.
For a higher success rate of rabbits and Labradors coexisting together, it’s best to properly socialize and obedience-train a Labrador puppy early on to get along with an existing rabbit in order to tame their natural instincts.
Training a Labrador isn’t as daunting and challenging as compared to other dog breeds because these Labs are amongst the smartest dog breeds in the market. Their brilliant adaptability skills, coupled with their superb innate instinctual intelligence would help train these Labs to go easy on their bunny counterparts right from the get-go.
If you’re considering pairing up the two, it’s advisable NOT to acquire a hunting Lab from a licensed breeder who sells only pups from Labs that have been line-bred as hunters for generations.
Thus, Labradors and rabbits will get along well in general as long as the Labs are properly socialized, trained, and introduced to their Rabbit counterparts under the right circumstances. They should always be supervised whenever they're together no matter what though.
Labradors in general are laid back and sociable with just about any breed or species thanks to their exceptional adaptability skill, and hence it wouldn’t be a hassle in training labs for a faster bonding. Labs are hands-down a neutral compatible breed for the most part.
It’s advisable to only pair up a Labrador puppy with an already existing rabbit. One of the metrics you can use to determine the compatibility of a future Labrador dog together with an existing bunny is to observe the Labrador puppy behavior in its litter.
It would also help in figuring out who their ancestors are from a reputable breeder and what they specialized in to get a better grasp on how these Labrador puppies would turn out as an adult.
Be sure to pick the middle-of-the-road pup that is neither aggressive or troublesome in its litter.
Also it does help a lot in observing the behavior of its mother dog just to get a rough idea on how it will turn out as an adult later.
Nevertheless, both rabbits and labs will bond quickly if they are properly socialized and well trained together with patience in accordance to your rabbit’s temperament.
The temparament of any kind of puppy can easily be molded from an early age and it’s advisable to train the pups to complement the behavior of the existing rabbit at home.
Also, it’s always crucial to never grow a Labrador puppy together with a baby rabbit as their individual temperaments may conflict with each other in their adulthood. It’s always best to familiarize & train a Labrador to live with a rabbit from a young age rather than doing so in their prime years for a much higher rate of success in settling them together.
Speaking of Labradors’ temperament, you might also want to check out Why Are Labradors So Loyal? (Explained)
It’s highly advisable for you to get a second Labrador puppy once your current rabbit is fully grown at minimum 2~3 years of age. This is because this is the age when your existing rabbit is physically mature and coincides well with the development of dog selectivity, reactivity and aggression.
That way you’ll know your current rabbit’s temperament like the back of your hand and you’d be wise enough to pick a second companion that matches your rabbit’s personality.
Hence, you shouldn’t get both Labs and rabbits as puppies and baby bunnies as they might grow up to be total opposites and not get along despite being close as puppies. Besides, puppies are too rambunctious for a much smaller baby bunny and they may in turn bite the latter if left unsupervised.
However, you should never introduce a second young dog/puppy to a current old rabbit that has past its prime years. Senior rabbits and young puppies don’t get along well in the slightest.
As far as the genders are concerned, Labradors and rabbits of the opposite sexes are your best bet for a harmonious home due to intersexual dynamics of animals.
According to the experts, neutered breeds of the opposite sexes tend to get along much better compared to breeds of the same gender. A combination of two female breeds or species would incite more violence compared to males as female animals are much more prone to independence and stubbornness.
On the other hand, neutered male dogs that have a low prey drive such as a Labrador are less likely to exhibit destructive behaviors and they would be more inclined to please their owners and their counterparts around them. Not to mention how much goofier and laid back male Labradors are in general.
Female rabbits are much more likely to fare well with a male Labrador as they are better in protecting their space and they’ll know their limits much better when interacting with the other species as compared to male rabbits. A standoffish female rabbit and a laid back goofy male Labrador are a perfect complementary for a harmonious home.
The last thing you’ll ever want is two pets vying for dominance in the household or worst, being aloof to one another despite living under the same roof — they’ll never get along well this way.
How to introduce both puppy or young Labradors and Rabbits for the first time
It is crucial to keep both of them separated from each other at least early on to avoid any unwanted shock or aggression. The key to a success introduction is to get the puppy familiarized with the existing rabbit overtime.
You may not want to immediately introduce a puppy to your rabbit right away as it’s ideal to do so once you have properly trained/ socialized your pup or your young dog to behave itself.
- The first introduction is key to making sure both dogs are set up for success together. If you’re introducing a young Lab to your rabbit, you’ll want to make sure it is properly leashed trained on your command.
- Set the first meeting on a open neutral space with the dog on a leash. If it’s a puppy, you’ll have to closely monitor the interaction while handholding it.
- Throughout the introduction, make sure your rabbit is placed in cage equipped with a hutch that it can retreat to if it’s scared of the encounter.
- Then walk your Labrador towards the rabbit cage on your command by making sure they are fixated on your attention and the rabbit. You’ll have to let your dog know that you’re the boss and the meeting has to take place under your terms.
- If your dog/puppy seems a little more feisty than it usual would without even taking heed of your commands, pull back on the leash and walk in the opposite direction to let it know you’re not allowing your pooch to run the show.
- After walking your pooch in the other direction for awhile, gradually walk your Labrador again to the second dog and make sure its attention is fixated on you, as if its seeking your approval to meet up with the second dog.
- Once both pets are close to each other, let them sniff each other vigorously and pull back on the leash a little every 10 seconds and repeat the same procedure.
- If your rabbit freaks out in the first encounter and hops away in retreat, pull back on the leash and walk your dog in the opposite direction. Wait till the rabbit calms down before repeating the above procedures.
Be sure to reward your young dog or pup with positive reinforcements whenever it does what it's supposed to. And on the other hand, backtrack on your steps and pull back on the leash or walk your dog away from the scene if it acts out unseemly. Refrain from giving your dog treats and positive reinforcements if it fails to perform the task.
Let them eventually sniff each other out to get them familiarized with their specific scents, and in turn learning more about one another. Also, keep an eye on your dog’s wagging tails – it’s a sign that it is keen on the introduction if both parties are comfortable in each other’s presence.
It’s important to note that any interactions between your labrador and rabbits should be heavily supervised even if they are super comfortable with each other. This is because size disparity between a lab and a rabbit may render excessive closeness very risky between the two.
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