Need help. Dogs obsessing over bunnies

mother o' chicks72

8 Years
Mar 21, 2011
Portland, Oregon
So I have 2 bunnies, and two dogs. Up until last week the bunnies were living in the house but we just finished their hutch and moved them to it. So as soon as we put them out there the dogs ran over to the hutch and wouldn't leave them alone. This continued all week. Last night I went out to feed the chickens and I saw one of the dogs IN the rabbit hutch. The larger dog had ripped off the hardware cloth side and this allowed the smaller dog to get in. Thankfully inside the hutch they have a divider halfway through that has a small square opening that was too small for the dog to fit through so the bunnies ran in there and are both okay.
We moved the bunnies inside and will be repairing the hutch soon, but how should I go about keeping the dogs away from the bunnies in the future?
I don't leave my dogs unsupervised where they can get to the bunnies. supervised, I have no problems

I teach a solid recall and leave it command.

Wild bunnies, if caught in the yard, become a late night snack. If I'm out there, I can call the dogs off.
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Agree with dainerra 100%. I have two outside rabbits in hutches and two dogs as well. They do not share a yard, ever. My dogs are well trained and, same as dainerra, I have no trouble when I am present with them being around my other animals and chickens. However I do not trust any dog alone with a prey animal that I wouldn't want to see killed. A moment of boredom, a moment of stupidity, you name it, that's all it takes.

The fact that these dogs have been at this for a week without letup and one finally succeeded in breaking into a hutch does not bode well for them successfully sharing space in the future. For the sake of the bunnies I'd keep everybody well separated. Maybe some electric poultry netting strung around the hutches, let the dogs investigate and get zapped on the nose. I'd still keep them in another yard or pen permanently but I'd be sure they get at least one good reinforcement to stay the heck away from the bunnies!
Well your dog is a german shepherd, which as I understand are smart dogs. My dogs are not very smart. The little one is such a spaz. They are good with the chickens, but hate the bunnies. Even when I'm out there with them they run right to the bunnies. No matter how much I scold them.
this is Ferdinand. He is normally a very good boy, but something about the bunnies sets him off

this is Pluto. He is a very spazzy, pea brained dog, however he is extremely sweet.
don't mistake "smart" with obedient rofl We often joke that most people want an obedient dog, not a smart one!
Not all dogs will ever do will with rabbits (or chickens or cats or squirrels) and just because they do well with one animal doesn't mean that they will be good with another species. Again, don't leave them unsupervised together. You can't teach when you aren't there! If the dogs get a chance to misbehave when you are gone, all that has happened is they learned a new game.

The key is in consistency. One at a time, work with the dogs and teach them to ignore the bunnies! reward good behavior, reprimand the bad. Dogs don't automatically know what we want; it is our responsibility to teach them
I have had dogs that basically ignored my rabbits, and dogs that were fascinated by them. If the dog is interested, especially *that* interested, you cannot trust him alone with the rabbits. As you have learned, hardware cloth will not stop them. I use much larger gauge wire than that, and it doesn't stop them, either, all it does is slow them down. If the cage is well up off the ground, then the rabbits are "treed" and that makes them even more interesting (if possible!) The really horrible thing, is that a dog can kill a rabbit without getting in or getting the rabbit out of the cage. Trust me on this, I have seen it happen, and you really don't want to know how.

The only way to keep your buns safe is to have separate pens/yards, so that the dogs can't get close to or under the hutch. You'll probably need at least a hot wire to keep the dogs from digging under the fence if they are that interested.
How do you train your dogs? We have to basset hounds, cats, indoor rabbits, and ferrets. To stop the dogs from going towards the rabbit we use the squirt method. We have used this in the past for other problem issues. Just squirting near them when they were misbehaving. If you have a method you prefer for training, I would start there. They are obviously determined... hopefully you can find something to work.

Good luck!

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