GETTING STARTED WITH RABBIT AGILITY
Many people own rabbits and think it would be great to train that rabbit but just don't know where to start.
The first thing you need to do is to start bonding with your animal. The rabbit must know it's name and a few simple commands.
BEFORE THE STARTING YOUR RABBIT ON THE EQUIPMENT
Take the time to teach your rabbit to walk on a leash. We have ideas on training your rabbit to walk on a leash on our Rabbit Tricks page. During leash training teach your rabbit a few verbal command, such as "no", "over", "whoa" and the like. The more foundation training you have on the rabbit, the more likely your rabbit will not only succeed at agility, but more, the rabbit will understand what you are asking it to do with the agility equipment, therefore having more fun learning.
Start small, one to three items for the first few sections and add from there. The best pieces, imo, to start with would be a couple of jumps and an open tunnel.
There are many items you can use at home to train your rabbit for agility and hopping. Use you imagination but keep safety in mind.
A cardboard box can be used as a jump, tunnel, or a frame.
There are many ways to set up safe and inexpensive jumps to train your rabbit.
1. Two 55 Gallon Drums (plastic barrels) with holes drilled out from bottom to top kind of in diagonal. Use 1" plastic conduit* cut to 2 1/2' to 3' sections, add poles as the rabbit jumps higher.
2. Two 5 Gallon Buckets set up the same way, only the holes would be drilled straight up and down in the buckets.
3. A Havaheart Or Havaheart type rabbit cage set on it's side with loud colored crate paper woven through it. (Crate paper is so that the rabbit would see the jump easily).
4. Same cage turned as if a rabbit were in it with two bricks (one on each side) in the rear so that the cage is tilted up. Crate paper would be in the front and up on top so that the rabbit could see it.
5. TV Tray frames with conduit* set in the middle fold (with the tray open so that the conduit would have a cradle to set in). Add pieces for heights by taping or drilling tray stand.
6. Concrete blocks with conduit poles*. Add concrete blocks on top of one another as the rabbit gets better at jumping. BE VERY CAREFUL to make sure that these are VERY stable.
7. A good humored spouse to lay down on the trail and raise up in position as the rabbit gets better jumping.
TRAINING FOR RABBIT HOPPING AND AGILITY JUMPS
To start your rabbit jumping the jumps first train the rabbit to walk on a leash with a harness. After your rabbit is comfortable walking on the leash, have the rabbit walk up to a low jump. A short jump such as a 2" x 4" board laying on the ground, and let it sniff if it would like to. Say the word "jump" and give the rabbit a slight gentle boost over the jump....praise and give the rabbit a little piece of treat.
Repeat this stage of training until the rabbit will walk up to and jump over the board. After the rabbit is doing well at a low jump add another jump about 5 foot behind the first jump. Make the second jump a bit higher but made to resemble the first jump.
Take the rabbit over the first jump and up to the second jump. Say "jump" to the rabbit as it approaches the second jump. If the rabbit jumps it, praise and treat the rabbit. If the rabbit does not jump the second jump, give it a slight boost as you say "jump".
About the age of rabbits that you begin training for agility or hopping. I have heard that only rabbits that are 4 months old should be taught to jump. I have heard others say any age rabbit can learn. I believe that it will depend on the amount of time you have spent with the older rabbit. No, if you rabbit is just out there in a hutch and has been for a couple of years with little if any handling.....this rabbit is not a good candidate. However, if you have spent time with that older rabbit, housed inside or out, and if it is used to you and used to being handled, by all means try this rabbit at jumping.
When you decide to buy or build your jumps. I like the rabbit jumps to be about 30" wide. You can start the rabbit at about 8" -12" high jumps. You want to keep the jumps low and safe as long as it takes for the rabbit to understand what it is you expect or are trying to teach it. Some rabbits will catch on right away and just fly over the jumps, others will hesitate at or just before the jump. Do not raise the height of the jump if the rabbit shows any sign of hesitation or tries to avoid jumping the jumps. After the rabbit is doing well with one or two jumps add a third one behind them that is a few inches higher then what you have been working at. It is always best to have jumps with break away rungs for the safety of the rabbit if it does not jump high enough or if it hesitates in the air and hits the jump
You alone are responsible for training your animals. Any training you do with your animals is your responsibility. We only tell of what has worked for us with our animals. We can not and will not except responsibility for something so far out of our control, people we do not know, training, who knows how, with animals we have never seen.
[center]Marna Kazmaier - firstname.lastname@example.org
Please visit often as this site, as well as www.theagilerat.com and www.marnasmenagerie.com, are STILL UNDER construction. Thanks for your visit!