Introduction: How to Teach Your Bunny Simple Tricks!

Picture of How to Teach Your Bunny Simple Tricks!
Rabbits need to be educated. They eat, they flop around and poop a lot, but they really should do something more useful, like spinning in circles around our feet on command!

Like humans, rabbits are extremely motivated by treats. My rabbit, whose name is Abungadi, has a fondness for raisins and apples, which I will use in this video to trick him into doing tricks :)

The video shows you what training a rabbit looks like, and how to gradually reduce the level of prompting needed to get your bunny to do tricks. The following steps in this Instructable will help you understand what the levels of prompting are and some basic tips for how to begin training your rabbit. Enjoy!

Learning objective:
By following the training technique outlined in this Instructable, you're rabbit will be able to perform simple tricks like spinning in circles, running around your feet, or moving in a figure eight pattern. Training your rabbit will also keep his body active, sharpen his ability to comprehend and follow tasks, and strengthen the loving bond between both of you.

Step 1: Hierarchy of Prompts

Picture of Hierarchy of Prompts

So here's what you need to know - there's something called the hierarchy of prompts. For rabbit training, here's how it looks:

At the bottom are the most hands-on prompts, like physically picking up your rabbit and spinning him in a circle.
Next comes putting a treat right in front of your bun's nose and using the sweet smell of a raisin to lure him into running around in a circle.
After that you can use a gesture without a treat, like making a circular motion with your hand.
And finally, with enough training and more than a handful of treats, your rabbit will be able to perform a trick with just the verbal prompt.

Your goal is to gradually reduce the amount of prompting needed for your bunny to complete a trick, from excessive pointing and grunting to a simple one-word command.

Step 2: Begin Training

Picture of Begin Training

Start by using a combination of lead-with-treat, gesture and verbal. Use a strong tone of voice, but not shouting. Lead-with-treat and gesture can be combined in one hand movement for now. If you need to physically push your bun, you probably need a better treat ;)

I like to begin each trick by calling my rabbit's name, positioning him in front of me by leading-with-treat, and then issuing the command + prompts.

Each time your rabbit completes the trick, click the clicker and give him a treat with a lot of verbal praise. If your bun doesn't, firmly say No and start again.

As your bunny understands what to do, gradually remove the prompts at the bottom of the hierarchy. Use a gesture, but don't have the treat in hand. Then minimize the gestural prompt further and further until a single word is all that's needed!

Step 3: Learning Multiple Tricks and Beyond

Picture of Learning Multiple Tricks and Beyond

My rabbit had some funny ideas about tricks. He would often spin in circles without any prompting, assuming that the act of spinning in itself somehow magically produced raisins which fell from the sky. Like a rain dance of sorts. You'll need to be patient with your bun if he does this by not reacting to his self-prompted tricks.

Learning a second trick was a bit tricky, too. My bunny thought that any combination of words and gestures means Spin. So when I taught him Around Me, I had to start all over from the beginning with full gestural, lead-with-treat, and verbal prompting with a lot of corrections. Then to reinforce the idea of two separate commands, I would mix up the tricks, randomly switching between Spin and Around Me.

And of course, be sure to give your rabbit plenty of breaks and verbal praise. If you use raisins to motivate your bunny, keep your training sessions fairly short - it's not good for a rabbit to have lots of sugars in one sitting.

My bunny was able to learn Spin, Around Me, Figure Eight, Walk, Come Here, and Up Here (jump onto a piece of furniture). What can you get your bunny to learn? I'd love to see someone teach a bun how to fetch or roll over!

Thanks for taking a look. Be sure to vote for me in the education contest :)


wanstrath11 (author)2017-10-08

do you haft to use a clicker? can you snap or use your mouth?

Ladybugfan4 (author)2016-05-28

what does the clicker do?

JacobN31 (author)Ladybugfan42017-01-11

It teaches the rabbit to associate the sound of the clicker with a reward, so when they hear the clicker they will do what you want.

tamikajadee (author)Ladybugfan42016-10-29

Using the clicker relates the click sound with receiving a treat, so each time the rabbit hears the clicker they know that they've done something good and will be getting a treat

MusicSpeaks (author)2016-06-23

My bunny is a lion head mix and her name is Zuri, shes 3 almost 4 months old. When can I feed her carrots and celery and such cause i read that baby bunnies shouldnt have those for a while but it didn't say when or how old to be when they can have them

simply_nikky (author)MusicSpeaks2016-10-02

hey, don't feed her much carrot because it has a lot of sugar (for rabbits at least) and celery is fine- it won't hurt her. (I know I'm probably too late because your rabbit is 7 months old. But hopefully my reply will help someone else)

MusicSpeaks (author)simply_nikky2016-10-02

Thanks. I havent fed her much carrots. Just 1 or 2 and I haven't given her any in weeks so far caus she seems to prefer her pellets

ConnerC4 (author)2016-07-11

Does this work best with an older bun or younger bun? My sister has a baby Rex rabbit who is quite stubborn but loves her..please help!

AmmarZ4 (author)2016-05-19

This really works, but the clicker can be replaced with gentle strokes on the head. My rabbit knows: come here, leave the cage, return to the cage, walk on 2 legs, hop on 2 legs, stand upright, get into running position, sit down, jump here, eat that and hide.

parisusa (author)2016-03-21

Buns are SO smart...give them attention and you will see!

benm104 (author)2016-02-17

what breed of rabbit is this.

Mike32gr (author)2016-02-10

Our rabbit could walk all the way to our house from our store without guidance. Its not a joke

CristianC31 (author)2015-12-02

This is Sugar and alby, Sugar is 2 and white, brown and black spots, and idk Alby's age I found him and no one claimed him.

CristianC31 (author)CristianC312015-12-02

Both of them have been "fixed".

KatK6 (author)2015-10-24

Thanks! Time for some fun learning. This is Måns :)

bunbuns17 (author)2015-06-09

his name is bunbuns

bunnylover17 (author)2015-04-10

Ha my phone changed the name he's called ollie

bunnylover17 (author)2015-04-10

Ha my phone changed the name he's called ollie

bunnylover17 (author)2015-04-10

My little 6 month boy oldie gets most of them and he's getting quite good !!!!!!!

AfiaM (author)2015-03-14

I'm gonna teach my rabbit these! This is my rabbit:

NicoleG2 (author)2015-03-01

my bunny misty loves to do these tricks

NicoleG2 (author)2015-03-01

those are great tricks I have tought my bunny how to do them

pyrodrake24066 (author)2015-02-26

Nice Very Helpful tricks and easy to learn i want to start their my rabbit Jasper and Cuddles at weekends.

Phoenix Flare (author)2015-01-21

My rabbit

Phoenix Flare (author)2015-01-21

My rabbit is VERY stupid, but I am trying to teach him how to use a leash! Great Instructable, this will come in use when teaching my rabbit, Mac!

sabzykay (author)2014-01-31

alannahbale (author)2013-07-24

NIce video! I like this post as well :-)

calliebee (author)2012-05-18

My bunny (Jam) will enjoy this. She loves games

Jayefuu (author)2012-04-30

Excellent information! The video's great.

EaglesNest (author)2012-04-27

I am blinded by the adorableness of your bunny. Awwwwwwww.

poofrabbit (author)2012-04-27

Awe this is great! My bunny (Max) loves to ham it up! I am an amateur magician and have taught him a few little things in order to use him in magic tricks, but I would love to teach him to some new things, great 'able!

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