Making your House Rabbit Proof
There are many things around a house that can be dangerous to an inquisitive rabbit.
House training rabbits will require time and patience, although being intelligent animals this can be done successfully.
They will need a house, where they can eat, sleep and feel safe (their own warren).
Litter training your Rabbit
Rabbits tend to deposit their urine and pellets in just one or a few places and are fairly easy to house-train. The majority of bunnies will quickly learn to urinate in a tray, but still scatter a few droppings on the floor. This is normal rabbit behaviour and the dry, odourless droppings can simply be swept up or vacuumed.
Adult rabbits over a year old are easier to litter-train because they have already been through adolescence and are generally calmer and neater, especially if they are neutered. Neutering and spaying is essential if you are keeping your rabbit indoors. It will reduce spraying and territorial marking and generally make bunnies more reliably house-trained.
It is important to get your rabbit used to his litter tray from the very first day, so make sure you have one or two trays ready when you bring your rabbit home. Providing more than one litter tray will increase your rabbit's chances of success and after a while you'll be able to remove the trays he uses less often.
Buy a large litter tray or a storage box with high sides to help contain the litter. You can also use a plastic dog basket, which combines high sides with easy access and doubles up as rabbit’s bed. For litter, we recommend softwood bedding (e.g. wood shavings and sawdust) covered with hay and straw. Avoid clumping cat litters, which may harm your rabbit.
When litter training a rabbit, it is better to start with one room even if you intend to give your rabbit the full run of the house. A small-uncarpeted room is ideal, for instance the kitchen, box room, bathroom, hall or landing. Fitting a baby gate in he doorway is a good way to confine your rabbit while still letting him feel part of the family.
Put one litter tray in your rabbit's cage or near his bed and a second in a corner of the room. Leave a few droppings and a piece of urine-soaked paper inside the trays so your rabbit gets the idea. If your rabbit hops in the tray, give him lots of praise and maybe a treat. Otherwise get him gently towards the tray or lure him there with a carrot or similar. If your rabbit urinates on the floor, say 'No' firmly but without shouting and gently put your rabbit in his tray. Remember to do this immediately after the event or you will just confuse him.
Never trap or chase your rabbit then put him in his litter tray or you will make this seem like punishment. Needless to say, you should never raise your voice or smack your rabbit.
The trick to house-training a rabbit is to make the litter tray very inviting. Put a fresh handful of hay, half a carrot or even her food dish in one corner. Don't do to your rabbit things that she doesn't like while she is in her tray. Try different types of trays and litter to find out what your rabbit prefers. Many rabbits like digging and rolling in their trays, grooming or even taking a nap. This is wonderful behaviour – if your rabbit loves spending time in her litter tray she's more likely to mark it with urine and droppings.
In the early days it is important to supervise your rabbit carefully during exercise times – rabbits are creatures of habit and once they get used to urinating in certain places it is more difficult to stop them from doing so again and again. Always reward your rabbit (with praise, cuddles, etc.) when he uses his tray and hopefully he will want to repeat the experience.
Many rabbits prefer finding their own spot – behind the sofa, under a chair or table, in a corner of the room – for doing their business. Simply move the litter tray where it is needed. Even if this means rearranging a piece of furniture, it is easier than working against a determined rabbit.
When you are not at home or you don’t have time to supervise your rabbit, leave him in his cage (minimum size 4' x 2' x 2') or a small, easy-to-clean room to contain the number of 'accidents'. As your rabbit becomes more reliable, you can gradually increase his running space by one room at a time, until he has full run of the house.
Use diluted white vinegar to clean litter trays and wash urine stains off carpets and upholstery. Use undiluted white vinegar to remove calcium deposits from litter trays and floors.