Step by step guide to litter training your bunny
Step by step guide to litter training your bunny
If your bunny is new to litter training, then its best that they learn how it works through a series of gradual steps. Special care also needs to be given to juvenile bunnies as they will need to learn how to use a litter tray as they develop, and this is also covered in this section. Follow this guide and you will see how litter training can be achieved without much fuss.
The first step is to prepare a pen or other enclosure as a litter training area where the litter training can begin. This can be done by covering the entire floor surface of this area with something that is absorbent and can be cleaned easily such as newspaper or wood shavings or hay. As with most things bunny do, litter training is going to need to be on their terms and time scale so it's going to need to be big enough for them to binky about in as they may be spending some time there.
Next you need to let your bunny establish a place they choose as a toilet spot inside their pen or enclosure. This will typically be in a corner next to a wall where they feel save. Once you recognize this place then the trick to litter training is encouraging them to return to the same spot through the various stages till you can eventually build up to placing a litter tray there. Encourage them as much as possible to keep this spot as a toilet area.
Placing food over this area such as a hay rack or hanging treat as this will encourage them to stay there longer because if your bunny is not resting then is likely they will be eating and going to the toilet, which they are quite happy to do at the same time in the same place.
Bunnies go to the toilet regularly so if you do let your bunny out to roam freely way from a litter training area make sure to put them back frequently for small periods at a time so they can re-orientate themselves. If you let them out for too long its likely they will try and establish another corner inn the room as a toilet.
It's important to keep all other areas very tidy and toilet odor free by cleaning up any mass thoroughly. You will get the odd accident so it's important that any small left behind are removed as this will encourage them to go to the toilet there again. If it can be washed, then put it in the wash, if it's a fabric surface you could use an odor control spray.
When you clean their corner out hold back some of the mess and mix it back in each time so it retains a familiar smell and they can find it easily.
You can then start to put down some of the litter you want to use in this corner as will help this spot establish itself as different to the rest of their enclosure.
At the end of this stage you bunny should be happy using a single spot and returning their when they need the toilet. Remember to remain patient and progress at their speed because if you move to quickly you may break the habit and this process will take more time in the long run if you have to repeat yourself.
Let this continue for even a couple of weeks and hopefully you will notice your bunny will get tidier and tidier with its habits, then when you think the time is right take some of the litter and toilet waste, transfer this to a litter tray and place this over the spot and hopefully you bunny will take to it. Its best to transfer some toilet waste every time you clean the litter tray out till you are confident it has been adopted. You will know if it's too soon as your bunny is likely to go next to the litter tray or to another corner.
If you bunny is really not getting the hang of transferring to a litter tray a trick that can be used is when you are happy the corner is the only spot your bunny is using put the litter tray in makings sure it has some toilet waste in it then stretch a cotton bed sheet over the floor of the area surrounding it. The idea is that because it's removes any smells around the litter tray that your bunny may associate with a toilet area that may have permeated into flooring your bunny will stick to its litter tray better. It's also useful as if they do go on the sheet you can tell instantly and whip it out and give it a wash.
How to use gentle disciplining when litter training your bunny
It is important to recognize the difference between bunnies and other domestic animals. Traditional toilet training for cats and dogs does use discipline or a certain amount of rubbing their nose in it as a part of the learning process. This type of training is not suitable for bunnies and will not be something your bunny will understand. In fact, any aggregation whether trying to teach a lesson or not is more likely to make them your bunny timid and harder to litter train.
Firstly remember to only tell your bunny off when you catch them preparing to or actually doing a pee. If it's a second afterwards they won't associate the punishment with what they are doing, and it will be wasted.
Never shout at, scare, or hit your bunny, no matter how frustrating litter training is this will not help.
If you catch them in the act using another area cor, say a firm No! then take them to their actual litter tray.
When your bunny is safely out the way you will then need to clean up and make sure you remove any scent where the accident happened or your bunny will want to keep going back to this spot and add to it.
A stronger deterrent can be to keep a water mister to hand and when you catch your bunny in the act spray a mist of cold water over them. Never squirt or spray water directly at them.
Need more help? Why not ask the Bunny proofing group!
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