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I Can't Get My Rabbit to Go Back in His Cage

i begging rascally rabbit image by Rheamy Higgins from Fotolia.com

Your bunny's first moments of freedom can be stressful for both of you. He's exploring new territory with security in mind, while you're busy making sure both stays safe and doesn't destroy any of your valuables. Even with its security, a pet rabbit may decide he doesn't want to go back into his cage. Convince him he does calmly and gently.


Rabbits are territorial. Your bunny considers everywhere he goes on a regular basis to be part of his territory. He doesn't see any reason why he should leave any part of his territory and go back to his cage if he's not ready. On the other hand, your rabbit may feel safer out of his cage than in it. Make sure your rabbit's cage is in a calm, quiet place where he can feel safe while eating, sleeping and relaxing, but where he is not completely isolated and lonely. Also, be sure he gets plenty of daily exercise and isn't cooped up too much so he will be less resistant to going back into his cage when time comes.


In some ways rabbits behave much like cats. If your rabbit thinks going back into his cage is your idea, he won't be very motivated to do it. However, if you can convince him it's his idea to go into the cage, it will be simple to train him to go in on command. Avoid forcing him into the cage unless it's an emergency; otherwise, find a way to gently motivate him to go in on his own. Choose a word or signal, such as "home" or "bed" and use it consistently each time you ask him to go to his cage.


One of the easiest ways to convince your rabbit he wants to go into his cage is by offering treats. Choose one of his favorite treats, like a small piece of apple, carrot or melon, and let him see you place it inside the cage. Do this whenever he is asked to go back into the cage so that he learns to like going home. Use a trail of treats leading up to the cage, making sure each treat is very small, to lure him in the beginning until he learns there will always be a treat when he returns.


While your bunny is learning to return to his cage on command you may need to very gently and calmly "herd" him toward the cage. Don't move quickly, chase him or do anything that frightens him. Walk several feet behind him, gradually moving him closer to the cage while repeating the command. It may be necessary to create a makeshift chute out of cardboard boxes or furniture leading toward the cage the first few times you ask him to return. Once he is in the chute, block the chute entrance and give him time to go into the cage and discover the treat on his own. If your rabbit shows signs of fear or distress while you are moving him toward the cage, such as stomping his feet, grunting or sprinting away, back off a little bit, let him calm down, then try again.