How to Pet a Rabbit

Do rabbits prefer being pet? Well, majority of them love being pet. In fact, you will find most sitting calmly with you for long span of time while you keep giving them a nice gentle massage. Petting is one of the best ways of calming down an active and stressed rabbit and it also helps nurture the bond that you want to build with him. Nevertheless, it is vital to learn the techniques of petting your rabbit in such a way that they love it.

Even the rabbits that are shy by nature or those that have had traumatizing experiences in the hands of humans can gradually learn to love the idea of petting. If you tend to be patient with your rabbit, you can gradually teach them good association with humans. They can eventually be happy in sitting down quietly while giving them a nice massage.

Petting a Rabbit – The steps that you should take

Petting a rabbit is different from petting a dog or cat. With other pets, you can typically approach them by keeping your hand in front of them or by giving them gentle scratches below their necks and chin. Rabbits, on the other hand, can be approached in a totally different way, if you want them to see your hand in a friendly manner. Here are the few steps to take.

  • Ensure that your rabbit can see your hand clearly

Before you touch your rabbit, you have to ensure your hands are approaching them in a friendly manner and not in an offensive way. To be sure about placing your hands in the right way, you have to understand the meaning of rabbit vision and how they see the world. Pet-parents need a good understanding of rabbit behaviors.

First, it is vital to learn about rabbit vision. They almost have a 360 degree field of vision but they have a blind spot that is located in front of their nose. So, if you place your hand right in front of their nose, they can’t see what you’re up to. This can scare them. When your rabbit believes they are dominant, they can again get offended by your hand coming directly towards you.

  • Pet the head of the rabbit

Which do you think is the safest place to pet your rabbit? Well, it is on the forehead. Rabbits simply love the sensation of being pet on their foreheads. It is also the simplest and easiest way of reaching your hand to above their head. When you pet your rabbit, you can give little scritches with your fingers or light strokes on their forehead. Make sure the strokes are gentle enough so that the pet doesn’t get hurt.

  • Pet at the back of their ears

If you find your pet rabbit to feel extremely comfortable while being pet on the head, the next place where you can move your hands is behind his ears. The portion at the back of their ears is a comfort place for most rabbits. That is their neck portion and you can give them a gentle massage. Once you start doing that, they will shift their position to relax themselves on the floor. In case you feel dexterous, give a massage at the back of their neck while rubbing the forehead with your thumb.

Should you touch the ears of a rabbit? Much against popular belief, most rabbits don’t have sensitive ears. While most rabbits don’t enjoy a massage in their ears, they also don’t mind if their ears are touched. It is a kind of neutral area for most rabbits. One thing that you have to remember is that you should never pick a rabbit by his ears as this causes extreme pain.

  • Offer a full body massage

Whenever your rabbit seems to be comfortable with getting scritches on his forehead and at the back of his ears, you should know that now is the right time to give him a full body massage. The strokes of the massage should be down their back. In case you think your rabbit isn’t used to being stroked like this, you will find them startled initially. However, this doesn’t mean that they are trying to shoo you away from them. It’s just that they didn’t expect it coming.

Start off by giving them short strokes and at the same time, continue giving scritches on his forehead and also behind the ears. Accompany that with occasional strokes down their back and gradually increase the length of strokes until your rabbit is used to it.

As you find your rabbit getting used to being touched all the way from his forehead to his back, give them a full body massage. Once you start giving them a proper body massage, you’ll find them melting on to the floor.

  • Pet the cheeks

There are several rabbits that enjoy being pet on the cheeks. Just as they tend to be startled when you start petting their backs, here too, they might feel surprised. While you pet on their forehead, give an occasional rub on their cheek. As you gradually progress with your massage, elongate the time of these cheek rubs so that they turn out to be nice cheek massages.

Areas where rabbits don’t like to be pet

Majority of the rabbits will feel elated when they are pet for long periods of time but there are places where the rabbits hate being touched. Few such areas are:

  • Butt: The bottom of the rabbit, around their tail is a sensitive spot and they hate being touched there.
  • Chest and belly: A rabbit guards their underside and if you touch that area, they may snap at you, attack you or change its position.
  • Chin: Rabbits shy away from a hand that tries to touch their chin.
  • Feet: Rabbits hate it when humans try to control their feet or touch their paws.

So, if you’ve brought home a rabbit recently, you know exactly what you have to do to pet him in order to bring her under control. Nurture the bond that you share with your pet rabbit by comforting him as per his wish.

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