I am in the process of bonding my two buns and would love to check in with some folks who have been there to see how they're progressing.
Background: My original bunny is Greta, a 4-year old Holland Lop female who has been with me about three years. My newer bunny is Artie, a 1.5 year old (we think?) dwarf female who I've had just over one year. Both are spayed and long recovered from surgery. Artie was found abandoned in a park by a friend of mine, so I didn't really have a say about the female/female thing, which I know isn't ideal.
I tried bonding the two of them a few times about a year ago, but Greta, used to being an only bunny, seemed extremely agitated by it and would chase, bite, lunge at, and generally terrorize Artie. Just in the last week I decided to give the bonding one more try, after having housed them in close proximity for a few months and constantly switched around their litter boxes so they could each get used to the other's smell. Now it seems that Artie is the crankier of the two and more inclined to fight/be aggressive. They both have mellowed out a lot though. No more of the clinching fights that I used to see.
So here's what went down tonight. They were together in a pen (two litter boxes, hay) for about a half hour. Mostly, they ate hay/kale and ignored each other. At one point Greta laid down and got comfortable - didn't flop, but just rested quietly. There's been plenty of self-grooming and turning backs on one another, but all of their actual interactions are still aggressive. For instance: Artie gets spooked by a sudden movement from Greta, whips around in her box with her ears forward, body in attack position. Greta sees this and reacts to it by jumping toward Artie. They will come together, sort of hop over each other and dance around erratically. I don't think they're biting, and there's no boxing or anything, but the movement is definitely aggressive, not playful. I think they both want to be alpha bunny, and neither is calm enough to just let the other bunny approach for a calm sniff. There is certainly no loving body language yet.
I live in the city and don't have a car, unfortunately, so that's out of the question. Anyone have any other ideas about my two? Does this sound like decent progress for how long we've been at it? Should I squirt them with water or otherwise distract them at the first sign of impending aggression? (i.e., it's really obvious when Artie's about to start something because she leans forward and her ears go forward). Or should I just let them go at it a bit? In the past I've had to break up their altercations, but tonight I didn't intervene, and they pretty much just danced for a few seconds, then retreated and ignored each other for a while. I'm wondering if I should allow this to go on, or break it up before they even get to that. I've been sort of tapping Artie on the head with my toe whenever I see her looking for a fight, and that seems to distract her. But she's not feeling calm yet, so I'm wondering if there's more I can do to help her get there. I know the fact that they can be in a pen together and ignore each other for such long stretches is a good sign, right?
Thanks in advance for any help/insight/advice everyone! Also, if there are any experienced bonders in Brooklyn who'd be willing to visit my two, I'd be super grateful!
PS. Photos attached of my two cranky girls.