Great fun… agility sport for lively Rabbits
Rabbits can be really snappy little hoppers. Jumping over little hurdles, creeping through tunnels and coursing through slaloms can all be really wicked fun for them. Agility for rabbits will get your pet going, prevent excess weight and make for an amusing activity. The creature’s enjoyment, however, should take absolute priority over the personal ambition of the rabbit’s owner – which is why it’s very important not to overdo it.
Rabbits desperately need a run to stay fit and happy. In the wild they have their tasks to accomplish: they roam around their territory, build underground infrastructures, forage for food and look after their families. No wonder they look for diversity as pets. By playing with them and keeping them busy you will be providing the animals with additional enjoyment. But that’s no substitute for a companion. It is a prerequisite for the creature’s happiness that a rabbit is not kept alone!
Trick then treat
To teach your rabbit tricks and stunts, you can use treats as a reward in the beginning, after each little step forward. But only feed them very small pieces that are not too rich in content. Otherwise the rabbit will quickly become satisfied, stop working and possibly become fat and sluggish. Another method of teaching rabbits something is the clicker method familiar to dog trainers. Here, the animal is trained to recognise a “click” as reward. Initially, the click is followed by a titbit then, after a while, the click on its own functions as motivation and reward.
Don’t force your furry friend into it!
Not all rabbits are suited to this kind of sporting activity. An animal that gets no pleasure out of it shouldn’t be forced in any way – simply find another form of joint activity. If your long-eared friend is rather anxious or nervous, he could feel overwhelmed by the whole agility thing. This playful sport is ideal for well-adjusted animals who like to be active. On top of that, your pet should be as fit as a fiddle.
What do you need to get started?
To begin with, you can build a few obstacles yourself and comb through your local Maxi Zoo store for a suitable tunnel. Apart from that you should have a few nice tit-bits on hand which, incidentally, you subtract from your bobtail’s meal so that he doesn’t put on weight despite all the exercise.
He’ll be hurdling like a horse!
There are professional rabbit agility sports enthusiasts who equip their pets with a harness and lead and guide them through obstacle courses – in Sweden and Denmark this established discipline is called “rabbit hopping”. Because it’s all about fun and games for you and your pet, all that isn’t necessary – your long-eared friend can be motivated to run free using treats. Set up the sports session in a room where the floor isn’t slippery so your snappy little hopper doesn’t injure itself jumping. Now, put him down in front of a low obstacle, hold a piece of carrot to his nose let him sniff at it then animate him to follow the morsel. And bingo… the first hurdle is playfully mastered. If this doesn’t work first time round, then just be patient. After a few warm-ups, it’ll work for sure. If, for all that, your rabbit still doesn’t want to jump, try and find out if it’s more of the “tunnel type” and whether it’ll let itself be tempted by food to creep through the pipe. Needless to say, every little success gets a mini-reward.
Make a mini maze!
You can even build a small labyrinth out of bricks through which you can pilot your pet. Some rabbits can even master a wide ranging slalom. But always keep a close eye on him during every playtime: if he appears stressed or overtaxed then call it off immediately. Even with animals who are bright-eyed and up for it, you should always stop after ten minutes so as not to strain them — but still with a small sense of achievement – that way your pet will look forward to the next time when you set up the hurdles and it finally gets going again!
Standing up straight
Rabbits do this in the wild to get a better all round view. Challenge it to do this by holding out a treat somewhat higher up. If you combine it consistently with a verbal challenge (e. g. “Up!”) you can even teach it to stand up at your command.
Climbing onto a platfor
Some rabbits already clamber up cushions, cartons or their own cage. If you want to get your animal to do that spontaneously, the basic requirements have to be in place. The platform must be big enough, stable and not slippery or there is the risk that they might fall. A carton suits best, or a pot, perhaps with a piece of carpet glued to it for better grip. Using the titbit, first entice the animal to up the platform… then onto it – reward it as soon as it’s sitting up there.
Call into your local store today to discuss your small animals personal needs with our Maxi Zoo Pet Experts