Despite their seemingly aggressive nature due to their ancestral genes of a hunting breed, dachshunds can be extremely loving and dependable pets. They are great with children and other dogs. They can also be daring and even take on animals bigger than their size. The bottom line, you should be proud to own a Dachshund.
The concern, though, arises when you have other pets in your home, which are not necessarily other dogs, but of a different class, such as rabbits. Is owning a dachshund still a good idea? What if you already have a dachshund and wish to get a rabbit. Do dachshunds and rabbits get along? Read on to know more.
Why Dachshunds are Not the Best Match for Rabbits
Rabbits are cute and fluffy and make a great addition to your home. And you could not marvel more about how your friend’s Maltese gets along happily with her rabbit, or at the very least, leaves it alone. You would think your dachshund might do the same, but alas, it does not. Here is why.
The Hunting Instinct of Dachshunds
Early ancestors of today’s dachshunds were hunting dogs and therefore, the genes have been carried forward even today. Even if your dog was not bred for hunting, the instinct might be dormant and can be aroused when they see suitable “prey” around.
Centuries ago, when dachshunds were used for hunting, they were used to dig smaller animals out of their burrows. Even today, the propensity to look for such animals remains in them. This is one reason dachshunds are great for getting rid of garden pests, but this same hunting instinct can be a big problem for smaller pets in your home, including rabbits.
Dachshunds Were Bred to Hunt Rabbits
So, why are rabbits more susceptible to being attacked by your dachshund? Well, it is not just that they were originally bred for hunting. But, miniature dachshunds were bred specifically to hunt rabbits. Owing to their short but powerful limbs, dachshunds can easily dig up the ground and find the animals that otherwise disappear behind burrows.
Yes, the rabbit has always been one of those burrow animals. And in modern times, even though you may live in an urban neighborhood and your pet rabbit has nothing to do with burrows, the dachshund is still likely to pounce on it due to its DNA. Related Post: Are Dachshunds Good With Cats?
Is it Possible for Dachshunds to Co-exist with Rabbits?
Even though their hunting instinct hinders dachshunds from living amicably with rabbits, there are ways to train your dog (and your rabbit) so that they can at least tolerate each other’s presence without hunting or being hunted. Also, remember that not every dachshund will act angrily towards small animals, each dog has its own personality and temperament. Here are a couple of points that will help you identify whether there is any chance for your dog to mingle with your rabbit.
Can You Train Your Dachshund and Rabbit to Get Along?
Most breeds of dogs, even the more aggressive ones, respond to carefully evaluated training. This means that even though it is impossible to see your rabbit alive again if left alone with your dachshund on the very first day, it is possible to gently train the dog to be able to be around the rabbit.
As with any kind of training, you have to bear in mind that you are trying to override its instincts and with dachshunds, you may have to try even harder. That does not mean it cannot be done. It just means that it needs more time and patience.
If you want to go the other way and train the rabbit instead, it will not be easy either. But if your dog is trained, then the rabbit might slowly get accustomed to its presence. Be mindful of the training, though, because, despite all the precautions you take, the risk factor is not likely to go away completely.
Evaluate the Personality of Your Dachshund
Although you could try training your dachshund so that it behaves with your rabbit, there is no guarantee it will. This does not always depend on the level of training. The personality of your dog is also a huge factor.
Do note that even though dogs of the same breed display similar characteristics overall, every dog still has a unique personality, much like how a person and their sibling have differing personalities despite being raised by the same parents.
Some dachshunds are more aggressive than others and may not fall in line when you try to train them to live with your rabbit, while others may find it easier. It is important to know your dog well before getting into the rabbit-loving training course.
How to Introduce a Rabbit and a Dachshund to Each Other
Let us assume that by now you know your dachshund well enough to give the training a chance. How do you then go about it? Do you jump into training it to be around the rabbit right away or are there any precursors? Here is how you should deal with it, one step at a time.
Consult with a Veterinarian for Advice
No matter how well you think you know your dachshund (and your rabbit), remember that a vet has a scientific and unbiased bent of mind and may offer you the kind of advice that you may not have guessed in your wildest dreams. Therefore, the first step is always to speak with your vet. Depending on the nature of your dog, your vet may be able to suggest if and when to start the training.
While you are there, bring your rabbit as well (not on the same day). Your vet might want to take a look at the little guy and advise you whether the rabbit has any natural anxiety or fear, in which case, he would probably recommend you to never let your dog anywhere near it, even with training.
Practice Obedience Training with Your Dachshund
Before you start training your dachshund to coexist with your rabbit, you must complete its obedience training first. Commands such as “sit”, “wait”, “stop”, etc., are easy to imbibe into a dachshund’s brain. They are smart animals that catch up quickly owing to their ancestral way of living in the woods where hunters used to command them all the time.
Do not start the obedience training directly in front of the cage of the rabbit. If you do that, its hunting instinct might distract its mind from lending its ears to your commands. Do not let your dog anywhere near the rabbit unless you have satisfactorily completed its obedience course.
Introduce Both Animals in a Neutral Space
Dogs are, in general, known to be territorial. So, the space that is reserved for your dachshund to eat, play, and sleep might not be ideal for you to introduce the two animals. Your dachshund might feel like a king in its familiar space and seeing the rabbit there for the first time might arouse its hunting instincts even more.
Likewise, you do not want to introduce them inside the room where the rabbit eats and sleeps. It is now the rabbit’s territory and it might get further frightened on seeing a predator visit its “safe space”.
So, what do you do? Choose a neutral venue. This could be your living room or another room where you do not normally allow pets. Let both animals be strangers to that room.
Put the Rabbit in a Travel Cage for Safety
When you begin the introduction phase for your dog and your rabbit, do not just let them out in the open. Even though your dachshund may have completed the obedience training, its hunting instinct will be hard to undo once it sees a freely moving rabbit.
Protect your rabbit by tucking it safely in a travel cage. Make sure the cage doors are well fastened so that they do not accidentally open if your dachshund attacks the cage. Yes, it might very well be that the dog jumps on the cage, thanks to its aggressive nature.
Restrain Your Dachshund
Now is the time to try the advanced level of obedience training for your dachshund. Depending on your dog’s personality, it may easily adapt to the sight of the rabbit in the cage, in which case, you praise it. Or, it may get even more aggressive and start barking. Then it is your turn to admonish it like you would for any kind of disobedience.
Keep in mind that if the dog is not restrained properly at the first meeting, it will never learn to behave around the rabbit in subsequent meetings. Even with proper obedience training, harmony might never come. So, do your best on the first day.
Introduce Them Slowly and Be Aware of the Reactions of Both Animals
Once your dog gets used to the rabbit in the cage and no longer pounces on it (bonus points if it wags its tail around it), you can slowly start diminishing the barriers between them.
First, make sure your dachshund is on a leash. This is to prevent any accidental damage to the rabbit even if your dachshund looks friendly. Second, bring the rabbit out of the cage slowly, but do not leave it out on the flow. Hold your fluffy little pet in your hands so that it feels safe even in the presence of the dog.
Let your dog sniff the rabbit slowly while being on the leash. If it begins to get aggressive, use the reproaches that you used during its obedience training. If it behaves well, promise a treat. All the while, keep an eye on your rabbit to ensure it is not scared. If it looks so, try another day.
Bring Them Closer Together Gradually
If things go well in the first few sessions, try to bring them closer slowly. It is best to let the rabbit take the initiative. Put the rabbit on the ground and see how both animals react. If the rabbit tends to run away, it means it is still not accustomed to the dog. It will also arouse the dachshund’s hunting instinct and cause the dog to forget all acquaintances and pounce on the poor little animal.
Be extremely watchful. If the rabbit does not show any anxiety, you can bring the dog closer and let them get friendlier. Take tiny steps as even something small can trigger their built-in characteristics and you may have to start all over again.
Training your dachshund and rabbit to get along is a tricky business and one that cannot be accomplished overnight. Even with all the training, you may feel that you are getting nowhere.
Patience is, of course, the key here, but even after months of training if you find they are still behaving as the hunter and the hunted, then accept the fact that it was never meant to be and let the two animals continue to live in their separate chambers.
If, on the other hand, you see even the slightest amicability between the pair, continue to train them. One day, they will reach the point of coexistence that you desire.
Great Pets Make Great Homes
It is a lovely feeling to have multiple pets to take care of, play with, and generally fill your home with fun and excitement. But if you choose the wrong kind of pets that do not know how to be in the same room, you are inviting nothing but trouble. It will only cause further stress to you and the animals. So, if you wish to keep a dachshund and a rabbit under one roof, be sure to train them as well as you can and let them be if things do not work out.