How to make your Sofa safe for your Rabbit

It can be hard to stop your rabbit playing on your sofa which can cause a number of problems such as damage from chewing and digging, peeing on the the sofa and there can be dangers from jumping on and falling off or the nightmare of rescuing a rabbit that has somehow got inside. In this article we have bunny proofing advice from rabbit owners that have found ways to stop these problems that really work.
Rabbit chewing stuffing sofa

Rabbits love playing on the sofa.
Rabbit balance on sofa
Rabbits just like many other pets like to compete with you for their place on the sofa, but where caring from a rabbit differs from cats and dogs is the types of damage this can cause and the types of dangers it can expose an unsuspecting bunny too.
Once they are on the sofa they will want to explore there surroundings which usually involves chewing or digging at the soft materials. In very little time this can lead to substantial damage and costly repairs.
Then when you try and reclaim your seat this can make them territorial and they may mark their spot by peeing which can be very frustrating as you cant leave them on their own.
The often out of sight areas around or under your sofa can also become a problem hotspot from unwanted chewing, The soft material stretched over the wooden frame at the base of the sofa is just at the right level to be of interest as your rabbit roams around what for them one of the largest obstacles in the room and as the frequently explore around and behind it its inevitable some chewing will occur which can cause a lot of damage very quickly.
Your sofa can also be a surprisingly dangerous place for a rabbit and there are also a number of safety issues surrounding it that needs to be considered to be sure your bunny does not come to harm. If you rabbit can get under you sofa then their can be a real danger from unfinished materials such as staples and materials that can be harmful if chewed and there is always the possibility that they could inside the sofa and get stuck which can leave you literally destroying it to get them out. Stacks of cushions which can be climbed on can be another accident waiting to happen as rabbits are often not great climbers and can fall. Danger can also come from you leaving leaving food or drinks out as rabbit tend to jump up without looking and can spill the hot food on themselves.
It can be very hard to stop your rabbit getting on your sofa and still have access to it yourself and no matter how may time you say No! it only takes your back to be turned for a moment for them to see their chance to explore this area when you are not their. You can however take a number of bunny proofing measures to ensure your house rabbit can play safely around your sofa and prevent much of the damage caused by unwanted chewing and scratching and in this article we take you through all the tried and tested techniques bunny owners have discovered.
Its important to stop your rabbit from going behind your sofa
Rabbit inside sofa
Rabbits often like to explore or even sit in the gap between the wall and the back of the sofa, unfortunately you sofa may not be as static as you house rabbit imagines and if it moves suddenly when someone sits down it can be pushed back trapping or even crushing your rabbit. Always make sure sofas and armchairs are pushed up against a wall or cannot slide back. It can also be sensible to block access to the crawl space that may form behind a sofa up against a wall by covering over any gap that form. This can be done by simply pushing a piece of furniture or other suitable ornament up against it or if you are handy with DIY a permanent solution can be make from a few bits of wooden board secured up against the sides.
Its important to stop your rabbit going under your sofa
Its natural for your rabbits to explore and relax in areas that offer shelter, they are prey animals and under your sofa is a place they will feel safe and will return to frequently. Unfortunately the unfinished material in these out of sight places can contain a number of dangers to an unsuspecting bunny. The flimsy materials are often crudely nailed or stapled on which can cause serious harm if chewed or digested. Often the plastic material covering the underside can contain strands of indigestible material that can leave your rabbit very sick or even needing a costly visit to the vets. These covers although good enough to stop dust will also not be strong enough to stop your rabbit from crawling inside and becoming trapped which can not only be incredibly dangerous but may leave you virtually dismantling your sofa to get them out.
It is an important bunny proofing job to block off this unsafe space under your sofa by filling in the gap and this should be done before you let your rabbit roam in the room. An easy way to do this is to simply put some things under there like storage boxes to prevent access. If there isnt enough room then some length of wooden blocks around the edge can be placed under the edges to restrict access, If you have some DIY skills then these can be make into a simple frame to make a permanent solution.
Don’t have too many loose cushions as rabbits are poor climbers and can easily lose their footing and fall
Rabbit playing top sofa
The loose cushions on your sofa that provide support and comfort to you can be dangerous to rabbit that are used to more solid surfaces to climb on. Its best to keep them to a minimum and avoid stacking too may cushions up as these can topple and fall if climbed on.
Never leave sharp objects or hot food on the sofa
Wine spill on sofa
Rabbits will often leap on to your sofa without knowing where they will land so its important to get into the habit of not leaving anything on the seat that could cause harm. Always keep sharp objects like scissors or knives or folks or glass off the seat and never put hot food and drink down somewhere out of reach, It only take you back to be turned for a second for a accident to happen.
Find a place our of reach for your remote controles
Rabbit chewed remote control
Never leave TV remotes controls, iPods and ear phone, books magazines and Bags out on the sofa or they could be chewed and damaged.
Choosing the most suitable sofa
Rabbit sitting leather sofa
If you are considering buying a new sofa then making a choice with your rabbit in mind can save a lot of the problems for you in the future. Rabbits love to chew soft materials such as cloth and wood to help ware down their teeth or to provide dietary fiber so if you can choose a sofas designed with metal feet or even an exposed metal frames this will be resistance to wear and tear from unwanted chewing behaviour. Leather or other solid materials or sofas with removable and washable covers can also be good if your rabbit has a habit of peeing on your sofa.
Provide a safe landing where your house rabbit jumps off your sofa
If your sofa or armchair is over a hard or slippery surface this can make it difficult for your rabbit and a miss judged jump or slip could lead to a nasty fall. Place a rug or mat under your sofa so your rabbit has a secure surface to jump up and down from and remove any ornaments that could cause harm if accidentally landed on.
Rocking chairs
No matter how conscientious you think you will be rocking chairs can be very dangerous as it only takes a moment for your house rabbit to be in the wrong place and be crushed underneath. Place rocking chairs somewhere inaccessible to ensure totally safety and never use them if your house rabbit is nearby playing or they could get badly hurt.
Sofas with reclining mechanisms are dangerous
Its way to easy to be relaxing at home on an adjustable sofa and forget your house rabbit is roaming freely close to the mechanisms. Sofas or armchairs with moving parts such as reclining mechanisms are pretty much unsuitable if you live with a rabbit that could be trap in the moving parts and badly hurt. Further danger can come from the space they open up that may encourage your rabbit to jump inside where they can become trapped and hurt themselves.
Covers or pet beds offer a bit of protection from damage and peeing accidents
Rabbit cuddle cup chair
Over time the materials on your sofa or armchair can start to look tatty due to the extra ware and tier. The corners of materials can be nibbled and the surfaces can the soiled by the odd accident. You can provide some additional resistance to your house rabbit staining and damage the surfaces by throwing a cover over it to protect it which can be washed or replaced.
Providing safe and acceptable alternatives
Rabbit playing chew toys
If your sofa or armchair is in an area where you house rabbit has access then it”s likely to receive some unwanted attention from chewing, digging and shredding behavior. Always provide safe and acceptable alternates to act as a distraction and help keep your rabbit out of trouble. Wooden and cardboard chew toys can help direct your rabbits natural chewing instincts and filling a box with some old paper can let them fulfill the drive to dig, shred and nest especially in Doe”s. Place them near the problem areas and make sure you keep a fresh supply to keep your rabbit interested.
Applying bitter apple sprays or other deterrents
Bitter sprays can help make your electrical devices and wires a lot less appealing to chew on for your rabbit however it will probably not stop this unwanted behaviour entirely so you should always try and find a more permanent solution.
Do not apply the spray directly to any areas where the wires connect with equipment, instead spray it into a cloth first then wipe the liquid on. Remember to keep reapplying the bitter spray regularly so it doesnt lose its effectiveness. Always use a product designed for specifically rabbits such as the and avoid home made remedies like perfume or chilly oil as these can be harmful to your rabbit.
Training and discipline
Training a rabbit with a water mister
It can be hard to use training and discipline with a bunny. Firstly you have to catch them in the act or any telling of will be wasted, secondly you have to judge the right amount of discipline to use. You should never shout at, scare or hit your rabbit as this sort of over reaction wont discourage them and in the long run can make them timid, antisocial or even aggressive towards you. The best way to let your rabbit know its not allowed to do something with their name followed by a firm NO! If this does not work a stronger deterrent can be to keep a water mister to hand and when you catch your rabbit spray a mist of cold water over them. Another common technique is to use a empty jar filled with coins that you can shake as a warning.

Rabbit like to climb

Rabbit climbing on rocks

Rabbit like to build burrows on the slope of a hill and are good at climbing up steep surfaces. However if they try this on your sofa they may slip on the loose materials such as cushions and come crashing down.
Providing safe and acceptable alternatives
If your sofa or armchair is in an area where you house rabbit has access then it”s likely to receive some unwanted attention. Always provide lots of safe and acceptable alternates to act as a distraction and help keep your rabbit out of trouble. Wooden and cardboard chew toys can help direct your rabbits natural chewing instincts and filling a box with some old paper can let them fulfil the drive to dig, shred. Tunnel toys can also help stop them wanting to explore the space behind or under your sofa. Place them near the problem areas and make sure you keep a fresh supply to keep your rabbit interested.

Bunnyproofing checklist

  • Don’t leave anything on your sofa that you don’t want chewed like bags, coats, magazines, tablet PC’s phones or remote controls.

Safety checklist

  • If you house rabbit likes climbing on your sofa be careful not to pile up loose cushions that could cause your house rabbit to slip and fall.
  • Don’t place hot food or sharp objects on you sofa as house rabbit will often jump up without looking.
  • Block of access to the underside of wooden framed sofas that may have unfinished materials like nails, house rabbits can even crawl inside.

    How to stop your rabbit going under and behind furniture

  • Don’t leave a space behind your sofa in case it slides back and squashes your house rabbit.
  • Chairs with reclining mechanisms and rocking chairs should be avoided as they can be very dangerous for house rabbits as they could become trapped and hurt.

Need more help? Why not ask the Bunny Proofing group!

We are a community of house rabbit enthusiasts with a specific interest in sharing our experiences of living with these special pets. We like posting tips on enriching our rabbits environments, preventing damage to our homes and making them safe for our rabbits to inhabit.