Posts Tagged ‘behaviour’

How to keep your rabbits sane

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing a bunny ‘binky’, you will know that it’s hard to beat. The leap and twisting of their body is a sign of pure enjoyment and it’s a true delight to witness. We want bunny ‘binkying’ to be a regular feature in your rabbit’s life, so we’ve got some advice to help them enjoy life to the full.

Imagine being locked in your home and garden, with just the odd trip out to a friend’s house a couple of times a week. Then imagine having no television or radio or anything to keep you occupied. Similarities can be drawn in keeping rabbits cooped up with nothing to play with and no real change to their surroundings, and rabbits can become bored and depressed. So unless they have acres to roam in safety (and let’s face it most of us can’t afford them that luxury), then guess who they will rely on as their source of entertainment? That’s right, you! Quite the responsibility, but don’t panic, we have some handy tips to get you started.

Firstly, make your job easier; give your rabbit as much space as possible for their home. As a minimum, a pair of medium sized rabbits should have an enclosure of 3 x 1 x 1 metres in size. They require at least an uninterrupted three metre length to run and play naturally, as well as a sleeping area. The height of a rabbit enclosure is often overlooked, because their shape is seemingly low to the ground. Rabbits will stand on their hind legs and they must have provision to do so for the health of their skeleton and muscles. With the basics in place, why not also consider whether they can be let out in the garden for a really good explore every now and then. Obviously not recommended unless your garden is enclosed and supervising them is the only way to be sure they’re safe from predators such as cats and dogs and foxes.

Now the real fun starts!  There are all sorts of novel ways you can provide enrichment to your rabbits’ lives, let’s first consider toys. Never underestimate your rabbit’s desire to play. They are full to the brim with character; you just need to press the right buttons to expose it, something which you will find very rewarding. Rabbit toys are available to buy in abundance these days, from balls that they love to push and throw, to activity toys where they must find the hidden treat. But you needn’t spend lots of money, sometimes the simple things in life are the best – consider making your own. A toilet roll stuffed with hay and other treats can provide hours of entertainment.

How about stringing a ‘washing-line’ across their cage and pegging various delights all the way along? Don’t forget furniture too. In the wild a rabbit is used to jumping over logs and roots, and burrowing and tunnelling. So provide platforms and tunnels for them to re-enact this natural behaviour. You will encourage them to run and jump and duck and scurry, and it will do them the world of good. Take food foraging one stage further and recreate ‘the wild’ by spreading their food around the enclosure. Hide pieces of carrots as a treat (not daily), in different areas and make them work for it a little.

Entertaining your rabbits can massively increase the bond between you. Take the time to handle them, stroke and massage them and also take the opportunity to check them over for health concerns. If your rabbit isn’t used to being handled then start slow and with short sessions. Human interaction will really break up your rabbits’ day and give you the opportunity to enjoy them as a pet. Consider teaching them some tricks – rabbits can learn a surprising number of party-tricks, from jumping through hoops to running through tunnels. If you’ve ever seen rabbits ‘show-jumping’ you’ll know it’s a sight to behold. If not, then you must Google it! Always ensure training methods are positive and reward based to further increase the bond.

So a rabbit’s horizon needn’t be small, there is so much you can do to broaden it. With a little creativity and investment of time we think you’ll enjoy play-time just as much as they will.

Strange Things Dogs Do…

People are from Mars, are dogs from Venus?

Dogs seemingly do some weird things sometimes. From following you to the bathroom, to chasing their tails, and everything in between, we have explanations for you. But in order to comprehend their actions, we have to get into their psyche. So as you read on further, remember, think dog!

First let’s tackle the above mentioned oddity, why do dogs follow us to the bathroom? Firstly, dogs have different social boundaries. They are perfectly at ease in this situation, they would think it odd that we don’t feel so comfortable. What’s more, you can rest assured that the chances are, this is actually a sign of love, they’re interested in what you’re up to and want to be where you are. So you can feel flattered, honestly!

Love can make anyone do strange things so let’s consider some of the other ways your dog shows you affection, here are our top five:

  1. Your dog boils over with excitement when you arrive home. They love you, they want to be with you, so this surely can’t come as a surprise…

  2. They lick your face. Okay so this is pretty unhygienic, especially if they have a tendency for coprophagia (read on to learn about that term, but you might be able to guess!), but it truly is a sign that you are their human.

  3. It’s all about the eye contact. Eye contact can be a complex thing, staring can mean that a dog is anxious or on the verge of aggression. Anyone who has a dog who gives them that kind of soft, relaxed eye contact knows exactly what the ‘look of love’ looks like, you know who you are, you lucky things.

  4. Simultaneous yawning. One study found that some dogs mimic their loved ones in this way, they yawn when we do. Who’d have thought it?

  5. Remaining calm when you leave them. Sounds counterintuitive doesn’t it? If they love you, why are they okay with you leaving them? Some scientists think that this displays a level of trust. If your dog is relaxed when you leave them, you are great parents, they know you’ll return, the bond is strong.

As lovely as all this talk of love is, what about the other weird things dogs do? Let’s delve deeper into those.

We mentioned the term ‘coprophagia’ earlier. Well, this means to eat poo. As unpleasant as this is, if your dogs does it, you’d probably like to know why. For some, it is a learned behaviour. Whelping bitches will ‘clean up’ after their offspring to keep a clean environment. Some simply learn this from their mother and never lose the habit. Others however might be lacking important nutrients in their diet or their food might simply not be satiating them. Either way, it’s worth discussing this with one of our vets just to be sure.

Ever seen your dog spinning in circles in their bed before settling down? This is apparently to do with the inherent desire to create a safe and comfy ‘nest’. It looks to us like they’re just fussy when it comes to comfort!

Dogs chasing their tail is a classic comedy sight, many dogs do it at some point in their lives. Interestingly, there are numerous reasons a dog might do this, ranging from sheer intrigue to boredom, and from a flea infestation to compulsive disorder.

With so many potential causes of this bizarre behaviour, if your dog does it repeatedly, and especially with a kind of distracted frenzy about them, best get it checked out by the professionals.

What about head tilting? Are there certain words that get your dog’s head tilting from side to side? This unbelievably cute action actually serves a purpose, they are trying to hear you better. They are adjusting their ear pinna (the bits that flap in the wind) so that they may hear you as best as possible. ‘Did you really say walkies?’

These are just some of the more common oddities we see in our beloved canines, each dog has their own personality and we have no doubt they surprise you daily with the funny things that they do. So provided they are well both physically and mentally, enjoy delving into your dog’s mind – you could learn a lot about them.