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BINKYBUNNY FORUMS > HOUSE RABBIT Q & A > Help for training bunny?
Last Post by Mimzy at 8/10/2012 6:23 PM (6 Replies)
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User is Offline Mimzy
529 posts Send Private Message
8/09/2012 7:57 PM

I've been trying to train Mimzy to go inside her cage every time I say "Go night night". I have a clicker and have been using that but she doesn't seem to be catching on at all and I'm wondering if she's just going through her teen stage which is making her too distracted?

 Basically, I hold the clicker in one hand and for the other, I hold a treat & point inside her cage (with my hand in her cage)  & say "Go night night" if she sees the treat or smells it, she will step in the cage to get it but right after getting the treat, she binkies and runs off to chew her pen. So I'm constantly trying to get her attention! hehe. She's 4 mos right now, I'm wondering if it's because she's going through hormonal things and "teen" that she's getting distracted so easily? Has anyone tried this type of training? & if so, how did you do it?

 photo KenMimSig_zps025abf4b.jpg Bunmom since June 4, 2012<3

User is Offline IsabellaRobyn
526 posts Send Private Message
8/10/2012 1:03 AM
I've been trying to get Belle to go in when I say "In your bed" but I think because it is quite a vague command it will take a while for them to catch on what we want them to do. Just keep at it! I've been trying to teach Belle "spin" after teaching her "up" last week or so and now every time I say "spin" she just does "up" haha!! So frustrating but cute at the same time. I don't have a clicker though.

User is Offline Elrohwen
Hudson Valley, NY
7322 posts Send Private Message
8/10/2012 5:22 AM
Basically, you just need to find some motivation to get her in the cage - that should be priority number one. At this point, don't worry about giving a cue word or hand signal, just get her to do it and click as she's jumping in, then give her a treat. It might help if you use her dinner time - put the dish in there, click as she jumps in, and then she'll get her dinner as the treat. Remove the dish, let her come out, and try again.

Only start saying the cue word when she is doing the trick consistently. Rabbits don't speak English and, in my experience, don't respond well to vocal cues at all, so saying it before she even knows what you want will just make it white noise to her. Try being quiet and luring her to do what you want until she really gets it (without the luring! if you're still luring, she doesn't understand what you want yet). At that point, try using hand cues as well as voice. One of my rabbits knows tricks, but just cannot understand vocal cues at all. He might be a little deaf, but I think it's more that rabbits don't communicate vocally with each other, so they find it difficult to understand the words we're saying (especially because we usually keep up a constant stream of chatter and they quickly learn to tune us out). My other rabbit does understand that some words mean different things, but overall she responds so much better to body language.

In general, rabbits are not known for their focus and ability to pay attention to their owners :-P You might do better to start with easier tricks (like standing up or spinning around) and help her learn to learn. Once she realizes that clickers and treats are really fun, she'll start to pay attention to you more and her focus will grow. She needs time to learn that clicker training is a super fun game and the longer she sticks around, the more chances she'll have to play it and win treats.

Another key is to let her wander off if she wants. Especially at first, bunnies can get overwhelmed by training because they don't understand what we want. When she runs off, it might be because she's overwhelmed. Just sit by the cage and wait for her to come back - eventually she'll be interested in you and come back to work with you. The more things you work on and the more patient you are, the more she'll learn to pay attention and tune into you.

I hope this helps! If you're really interested in clicker training, I can recommend some good books.
- Elrohwen

User is Offline kmes
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8/10/2012 6:00 AM

^ Ditto everything!

I have limited exprience clicker training rabbits (Up to recently I have only worked with dogs)...
But you may also find it helpful to first teach her to target (touch her nose to) a target stick. You can buy official target sticks ( I have a Click Stick - clicker is part of the stick), but yard stlicks, wooden dowls, and even long handled wooden spoons work just fine.
To do this you would just sit down hold the stick and click and treat every time your bun touches it. They do generally catch on pretty fast. Once she is fairly relaible you can try having her target the stick while you stand. Then start having her follow the stick. Click first for one step, then 2, then 3, etc. You could even start teach her to spin at this point.
Finally you could use the stick to move her into her cage for the night. Once she is readily following the stick into the cage, you can put it on cue. To do this give the cue (Point and say "Go night, night) first then present the target stick. It will likely take some time for her to really make the connection but eventually you should see her start moving to the cage when you give the cue, before you even pull out the stick.

User is Offline Elrohwen
Hudson Valley, NY
7322 posts Send Private Message
8/10/2012 8:50 AM
kmes, targeting is a great idea!! I can't believe I didn't think of that - d'oh ;-)

I use a plastic tupperware lid as a target on the floor, but I think one with a handle would work better for this. I like the wooden spoon idea.

My rabbits struggle to understand that they should follow a moving target - I think they lack the natural "chase moving objects" drive that dogs have. They do have a strong "check out that new thing on the ground" drive though, so I use that to my advantage. They do well if I just throw the target down where I want them to go and they can run over to it and touch it, rather than having me lead them with it, so that's something to keep in mind if she won't readily follow a moving target. Teaching targeting is pretty fast and easy, so I'm sure that will help you get her into the cage.
- Elrohwen

User is Offline Kokaneeandkahlua
Edmonton, Alberta; Canada
Forum Leader
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8/10/2012 10:20 AM
I definitely ditto the advice already given. I want to add that you could possibly give her some clues that it's almost bed time to help her respond appropriately. Turning off the tv, lights, then putting the motivation in the cage for her to follow, and rewarding appropriately. She will be then start to associate these clues with the expectation that she goes into her cage for a reward. Make sure the reward is good-maybe a treat and then veggie time; because it's very punishing for her to go into her cage if she enjoys out time. So the reward has to be more powerfully motivating to combat that 'going into the cage' is disliked.

I don't think I'd bring a clicker into it, as this is a once a day thing.

If you want to click train her-I'd teach her to go in, and out of the cage with the clicker-so you can repeat. I'm thinking clicking is useless done once a day, but if you were to practice several times, then clicking/marking is helpful.

User is Offline Mimzy
529 posts Send Private Message
8/10/2012 6:23 PM
Thanks! All these are so helpful. I never thought of target training and I knew bunnies communicate through body language so I don't know why I didn't realize I should use signals instead haha. I really like the target stick, I think I'll try it first! I have quite a few wooden perches my bird never uses so that will be perfect

And Kokaneeandkahulua, great idea! I do have a routine I do at night for putting my pets to bed. I haven't done mimzy's the same every night (still getting used to it!) so I'll need to come up with a schedule for her
thanks so much ^-^
 photo KenMimSig_zps025abf4b.jpg Bunmom since June 4, 2012<3
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