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BINKYBUNNY FORUMS > BONDING > My bonding quest with Maryann
Last Post by Beth K at 1/13/2011 9:28 PM (144 Replies)
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User is Offline Beka27
Cleveland, Ohio (USA)
Forum Leader
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12/05/2007 7:47 AM

"It was weird watching Maryann flinch everytime he touched her - as if she didn't know the meaning of grooming like I had starved her of attention."

this made me chuckle... sounds like something Mead would do.

Meadow..... Photobucket ...... Max, my angel bunny

User is Offline DustBunneh'sMama
Milltown, Wisconsin
77 posts Send Private Message
12/05/2007 7:47 AM
Wow, what a great bunny dad you are! I like your thought about checking out other shelters to see how their bunnies are kept and see if there is a more sad case that really needs a home. Of course, Maryann will have to approve! But, at least that way when you both finally make a decision you will know you did the best you could for everyone involved, especially the new bunny. Good luck with everything, and keep posting! We're all on pins and needles.
Proud mama to my 2 month old, 9 lb. bouncing baby Flemish Giant bunneh, "Ole Sven Joseph Gigantica, Earl of Niblet"

User is Offline MarkBun
Richmond, CA
2819 posts Send Private Message
12/11/2007 5:52 AM

I am going to continue on this thread so that people who wonder about the actual bonding process can see the trials that I am going through and realize that such things are part of the bonding process.

As I mentioned elsewhere, I have finally brought home a bachelor.  His name is Donahue, but I am calling him Dono after a favorite character in a book I wrote (but never finished)

He may look like a meanie with those overly developed eye ridges, but he is such a sweetheart.  I took Maryann to the SaveABunny shelter in Santa Cruz and these two hit it off great - no spinning/nipping bouts, Dono did a happy flop and a couple of binkies and Maryann allowed him to groom her without flinching.  I thought it was as close to love at first sight as I was going to get.  And after the car ride home, I caught them snuggling in the carrier.

Well all that changed during the first bonding session.  When I put them both on the ground in the bedroom (where Maryann hasn't been for nearly 4 years), Maryann immediately attacked Dono and latched onto him so tightly that when I pulled her off of him she dragged him with her for few inches.  I tried the bonding box,which is a  cardboard box with hay and litter in it and barely big enough to fit the two of them in it.  However Maryann wouldn't sit still no matter what I did and continued to attack Dono.  The BEST I could do for a good ending (as you always want to leave on a good note) was to pin Maryann and Dono down about four inches from one another so they could just see each other without fighting.

I put them into their seperate cages and as you can see what I first thought was just curiosity on Maryann's part was actually the stink eye:

However, I can tell Dono likes her.  He's always by her cage whenever I come home (of course that is also the area that allows him to see me when I first come in.  She, on the other hand, will sometimes dig at the bars trying to get at him.  Not looking good right?

Wrong.

The second bonding session I decided to take them into my shower.  It is a small stall, maybe 4 foot square.  I put in the bonding box, then put Maryann in there first.(half tempted to turn on the shower to cool her off).  It is important that you do everything with your old bun first.  First to get treats, first to get pets, first to be moved, etc.  It lets them know that they are still the alpha.  Then in went Dono and I immediately began petting the two of them just hard enough to keep their heads down.  Both Maryann and Dono took the pettings without trying to get away or at each other.  When I stopped, Dono began looking around while Maryann just sat there looking at him.  It took her around five seconds before she began nipping him again.  I seperated them, put them both into the bonding box again and began petting them once more (but not before Maryann got a nip in on his cheek).  HOWEVER, she took the pettings instead of continuing to try and attack Dono - which she didn't do last time.  And no fur was lost during these encounters.

So, yes, the small improvement I have made in the bonding is that Maryann will not attack Dono while I am petting the two of them together.

Oh, and if you are wondering about Dono, he is taking all of this very well.  Whenever she attacks and I seperate them, he turns to her and begins to approach carefully and submissively as if to say, "I'm sorry, I don't know what I did wrong."  When they both go back into their cages, he doesn't run away and hide like she does, he remains near her cage (also the only place he can get close to me) and cleans himself from the struggle.  And he still comes hopping up to me whenever he sees me in the room so he doesn't hate me for putting him through this. 

I have also begun taking their nightly handful of leafy greens and sticking them between the cages instead of in their cages.  They both can pull the greens through the bars, seeing each other as they are eating their treat, but not being able to get to one another.  Before I put them in there though, I first hand one piece to Maryann and then one piece to Dono, again reinforcing to her that she is in charge.

My bonding quest with Maryann - Read about a less than easy bonding with two buns - but they did bond!

User is Offline babybunsmum
Waterloo ON Canada
3872 posts Send Private Message
12/11/2007 8:27 AM

great to hear you've made progress!  thanks for posting the experience... its interesting to read.  i'm considering adopting another bun but need to think out the logistics before making a final decision. 

I like work. It fascinates me. I sit and look at it for hours.

User is Offline Scarlet_Rose
Colorado
4371 posts Send Private Message
12/12/2007 4:20 PM
Markus this is great info, I am placing this in the FAQ section under Bonding. Thank you so much for taking valuable time to keep us updated, especially in so much detail!

User is Offline MarkBun
Richmond, CA
2819 posts Send Private Message
12/13/2007 5:42 PM

So another bonding night.  I attempted to use HRS's bonding method of using a bonding box, in the bathroom and use a loud, unknown sound.  I put them in, petted them down and once they began to fight, turned on the rather noisy overhead fan.  They stopped for a second, then I saw Maryann going back towards Dono.  I got down, petted more and yet once I stopped, the bitings happened again.  Both got some fur from the other and I decided to seperate them again.

A link to thevideo is here.  I'm sorry there is no audio - I can't get the dang sound to go through my computer for some reason.  But I thought you'd like to see what I am dealing with...

My bonding quest with Maryann - Read about a less than easy bonding with two buns - but they did bond!

User is Offline babybunsmum
Waterloo ON Canada
3872 posts Send Private Message
12/13/2007 6:40 PM

yup... she's a feisty gal, that maryann!  i can see how a falconers glove might come in handy.  i didn't realize the bonding box would be that small.  so the idea is to get them in close but neutral quarters is it?  you obviously have researched this a lot... what's your game plan?  keep doing this until it gets better or do you change things up a bit?  like using a louder, more banging type of noise for the unknown sound maybe?

I like work. It fascinates me. I sit and look at it for hours.

User is Offline MarkBun
Richmond, CA
2819 posts Send Private Message
12/13/2007 6:55 PM

Well at the moment, Dono won't let me near him so definitely nothing more tonight. Dono's vet visit is tomorrow (Friday). I am going to try and see if I can get both of them into the same carrying box and keep it moving and noises to keep them from attacking each other. If they do, I have Maryann's old carrying case that I can put her into. Then, let them out at the Doctors. That will be neutral territory and I believe I can handle it there.

Saturday will be a day off for them, just let them see each other through the cages. Then, Sunday, I'll bring them to the HRS for more neutral territory bonding. I just hate it that Maryann's going for the face with her bites.

I am thinking that during next week, I might try to put them both into the bathroom without a box but a couple of heapin' piles of baby greens.  I think that Dono needs to be able to get away from the big meanie.  Sad thing is that her attitude of not takin' any crap is something that endeared her to me. 

My bonding quest with Maryann - Read about a less than easy bonding with two buns - but they did bond!

User is Offline Scarlet_Rose
Colorado
4371 posts Send Private Message
12/14/2007 2:01 PM
Hmm, it looks like putting them together straight off gets on MaryAnns nerves. I would provide Dono with an escape, somewhere he can go to get away from her. Bonding can be so complicated sometimes, there is no one sure-fire way and you have to get creative. When I was a bonding sitter, we let them loose in an x-pen (we sat down on the floor with them) and had a tunnel and a stool for them to "hide" in if it got too much for one bunny. If they started to fight, we did what you did, stop them and pet them down. Sometimes just taking one bunny in our lap and petting and just petting away until the other one got curous enough to come over then pet them both and if no nipping set the one down on our lap next to the other. If we stood there, then they were more likely fight for some reason. You might want to keep a squirt bottle handy as sometimes (this wasn't used very often) when the miscreant that was nipping was squirt, the other would come over and groom in sympathy. The kitchen strainer that Binky Bunny mentioned in the other discussion works very well too. I don't know if you checked over there yet.

User is Offline MarkBun
Richmond, CA
2819 posts Send Private Message
12/14/2007 2:58 PM
Well I took Dono to Dr Harvey today for an exam (he's just fine, BTW) and I, of course, brought Maryann with me. I let her ride on my lap to the vets (about a 45 min drive in traffic) and by the time we got there, she was squished up against the door to the carrier and Dono was squished on the other side. So I put them both into the carrier and brought them into the Vets. There, they were good for about 15 minutes then began to nip at each other just before the Doctor came in. AFterwards, I put them both into the same carrier and drove them home. I caught them snuggling a couple of times and even saw Dono grooming Maryann's face and ears (although when he 'demanded' to be groomed back, she gave him the butt).

So I KNOW they can get along. I just haveta find a new route to it. I think I'll start off with a car ride and forego the box. They seemed rather pleasant to each other when they had the floor of the examination room to hop about.
My bonding quest with Maryann - Read about a less than easy bonding with two buns - but they did bond!

User is Offline Scarlet_Rose
Colorado
4371 posts Send Private Message
12/14/2007 4:13 PM
That's good I think you've found something that will help with the bonding! I hope it all goes well and it's good they can get along, that helps you too!

User is Offline MarkBun
Richmond, CA
2819 posts Send Private Message
12/18/2007 5:05 PM

So two more bonding essions so far. First we went over to the House Rabbit Society (HRS) and tried some bonding in an X-pen in neutral territory. Unfortunately, things weren't much different. Maryann nipped, Dono hopped away and he even begain hopping in front of her just so he could thump where she'd see it. I managed to get them quiet enough so that I could end on a good note and get them home. And, on the way home, once again Maryann let Dono groom her.

Tonight however was different. I took them on a car ride and managed to quiet them down in the same carrier. They went nose to nose numerous times without any incident. I brought them back to the created neutral space in my house and turned on the vaccuum. This also seemed to work to some extent. Maryann hopped around, checking things out while Dono remained petrified in the litter box. But, once again, as soon as Dono moved, Maryann nipped. I would seperate them, pet them, calm them down but once I let go, she went for him again. I tried removing her from the space, petting her for a little bit, then putting her back in. She immediately headed to Dono and attacked. I couldn't figure out a good way to end the session so they went back into their cages for greens.

Even the people at the HRS aren't happy with what they are seeing. I decided that if I cannot get Maryann to NOT attack Dono everytime he moves, that by January 2nd, I'm going to call his foster mother and make arrangements for her to come get him. I just don't think this is fair to him and if Maryann is so intent on being a single bunny, then she can be one.

My bonding quest with Maryann - Read about a less than easy bonding with two buns - but they did bond!

User is Offline babybunsmum
Waterloo ON Canada
3872 posts Send Private Message
12/19/2007 3:29 AM

oh how disappointing that they haven't made more progress!  maryann seems so determined to keep him in his place... maybe she's gay?    just kidding... of course... i just have nothing helpful to say.  have you been in touch with dono's foster during the bonding? 

I like work. It fascinates me. I sit and look at it for hours.

User is Offline Lagomorpheus
Washington, DC
442 posts Send Private Message
12/19/2007 3:55 AM
You look like you're doing an excellent job and watching with a caring eye.

A couple things: Have they been familiarized yet? I was under the impression that two unfamiliar bunnies should live in close proximity (in seperate cages) in plain view for ~two weeks before attempting an introduction. Perhaps some of the aggression is territoriality or just plain unfamiliarity that could be helped by a longer familiarization process?

Also, as someone mentioned above, allowing for an 'escape route' during bonding could be beneficial. I rarely confined my buns during their bonding process, instead allowing them both to run free in the apartment. This at times developed into a bit of a chase, but I was easily able to stop the alpha female and groom her a bit/distract her and allow brambles to recover elsewhere. He was still curious and quite resilient, so they would have several meetings during these sessions, but neither ever felt trapped or pressured into a confrontation.

I'm sure you've considered these things, but that's my two cents anyhow. Good luck and I greatly enjoyed reading your notes on the process!

User is Offline Beka27
Cleveland, Ohio (USA)
Forum Leader
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12/19/2007 4:21 AM

i'm really sorry to hear things are not looking up.  Dono sounds like he's such a sweet bun who's just lookin' for love... we should get him a bunny dating reality show... lol.

Meadow..... Photobucket ...... Max, my angel bunny

User is Offline Beka27
Cleveland, Ohio (USA)
Forum Leader
15610 posts Send Private Message
12/19/2007 4:26 AM

i just thought of something... i know bunnies can be possessive of people... do you think the fact that you are doing the bonding primarily, that this is causing a problem with Maryann?  is it possible that a neutral person would have better luck?  a neutral person in non-neutral territory... like someone coming to your house?  would Maryann be distracted about who this strange person is?

the other thing i've been thinking, not necessarily in your case, but in bunny bonding in general... is it easier to bond after a move to a new home... when things are not yet "claimed" by anybun.  they can both start on equal ground... has anyone ever done that?

Meadow..... Photobucket ...... Max, my angel bunny

User is Offline babybunsmum
Waterloo ON Canada
3872 posts Send Private Message
12/19/2007 4:38 AM

thats a good point about trying a neutral person to do bonding.  my bun chins my hands all the time when the dog's around and i take it to mean she's claiming me as 'her own personal slave' over the dog lol.  maybe thats why maryann & dono's first intro went so well... there were other humans there.

I like work. It fascinates me. I sit and look at it for hours.

User is Offline babybunsmum
Waterloo ON Canada
3872 posts Send Private Message
12/19/2007 4:42 AM

forgot to add... markus... didn't you mention before that maryann took a while to get used to your girlfriend?  maybe i'm confusing you with some one else, but if that's the case i think beka's idea is even more relevant.

I like work. It fascinates me. I sit and look at it for hours.

User is Offline MarkBun
Richmond, CA
2819 posts Send Private Message
12/19/2007 7:10 AM
Well first off, I don't think Maryann is gay. I tried a couple of female buns during the speed dating process but she "Attack" attacked them - not just nips but full on charges, claws and teeth.

I have been in touch with Dono's foster mom and she's been giving me some ideas but a couple of them I'm not comfortable with until I have a second person nearby (such as holding both of them to my chest).

They have been familiarized as they have been living next to each other for two weeks. I am going to be trying the 'free range' style of bonding this weekend but the only issue is that this will all be on Maryann's turf - I don't have any space large enough that is neutral territory.

There will be a couple of people this weekend at HRS that are the 'bonding pros' so I'll let them handle the bonding process there and see if it goes better with a stranger.

I have thought about moving to a new place just for the buns but right now I have a really great deal on this apartment and am hesitant to head out. I've been in this place for 13 years and, well, I hate moving.

I do think that all Maryann wants is her place and me. Nobody else. I am hoping that things will improve over the next two weeks. I would be willing to keep on working on them for the next three months but I just feel so bad for Dono that I don't want to keep putting him through this.

Part of me wants to take Dono and hide him in the bathroom, then let Maryann have full run of the house and see what happens when she realizes he isn't around anymore.
My bonding quest with Maryann - Read about a less than easy bonding with two buns - but they did bond!

User is Offline babybunsmum
Waterloo ON Canada
3872 posts Send Private Message
12/19/2007 11:13 AM

yeah poor dono... i can imagine it's hard to watch him getting snubbed & bitten.  you know maryann better than anyone, so i can see why you'd not want to prolong this too much if you think she's not going to budge.  you certainly have been patient & willing to try anything.  hiding dono for a day would be an interesting experiment... do you think it'd hamper the situation somehow?   i'm wondering how she'd react to being re-introduced after a brief repreive. 

I like work. It fascinates me. I sit and look at it for hours.
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