Bunny agility competitions?! Have you ever heard of a cuter hobby?! (That’s a trick question because obviously you haven’t.) Read on for Christine’s story of training bunnies!
Learning the obstacles is relatively similar to Dog Agility but getting your rabbit accustomed to Agility requires they feel safe, once they feel safe they learn much faster than dogs.
Dell’s background in horse training was major part of her success with training bunnies.We start by getting the rabbit properly fitted with a harness and accustomed with wearing a harness and leash. We teach the handler to use clicker training so they can guide their rabbit to go where they would like them to go.
We use a series of foot cues and voice cues to guide them through an obstacle course. As they graduate from each band level, the rabbit is able to accomplish more difficult obstacles with the ultimate goal of going off leash with voice commands only.
Dell had hosted a few competitions. There were three different levels that the handler and rabbits could compete in. The first level was easy, where anyone that has never taken a class in agility could compete in.
Medium had some basic obstacles, shorter jumps, tunnels and ramps. Hard was the most difficult and had more advanced obstacles (higher jumps, teeter-totter, water jump, tire swing, curved tunnels, etc.).Each level was broken up into two courses (straight and curved).
The straight course was just a long line of obstacles, where the rabbit would run one obstacle to the next in a straight line. The curved obstacle was often snaked through the room so that rabbit would have to turn left or right to go the next obstacle.
The competitions were judged on speed as well as clearance of each obstacle. There was a high jump competition where we would line up the rabbits like in a limbo line and had them jump incrementally higher with each round.
Axela won a first place ribbon for the most advanced curved obstacle course. After she won Jason had her run the course off leash, she completed the course perfectly to the crowd’s amazement, the only fault was she didn’t stop at the end and started running the course again!
I learned that rabbits are exceptionally smart animals who can communicate in so many different ways when you spend lots of time with them and get to know them. Through agility, we teach the students that you can do so many fun things with your rabbit and you enjoy your time which each other even more.
Rabbits have generally been known as cage pets and unfortunately are designated as poultry, but they are a valuable and loving companion when you let them free roam your home (much like a cat or dog), play with them, and train them. We have seen much stronger bonds between the students and their rabbits as they continue on in Agility.