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Saving rabbits from dog

(11 Posts)
Whatamuckingfuddle Tue 19-May-15 12:27:33

Hi,
Am looking for some help, we are getting two rabbits in two weeks and I have a lovely lab x spaniel who is mostly perfectly harmless but loves a good chase, he accidentally killed a wild rabbit at MILs house a couple of months ago- although apparently appeared confused it wasn't moving so just took it away and buried it. If I am there he will come away when called and the rabbits have had a very large, very secure area built so should be safe. My concerns are 1) I don't want him to scare young rabbits by sniffing around their shed/outside run and scaring them/whining at them and 2) much as I don't think they are likely to end up in the same area together, I'd love for him to ignore them, but have no idea if I should somehow introduce them or spend the next 5+years worrying that the rabbits and dog might someday meet. He is very trainable with a usually soft mouth so any advice greatly appreciated, sorry for the ramble and thank you in advance

Whatamuckingfuddle Tue 19-May-15 13:57:07

Anyone?

MsAdorabelleDearheartVonLipwig Tue 19-May-15 14:00:38

A dog trainer I knew years ago had a pen full of rabbits. I had to sit my dog up and reward him for watching me not the rabbits. Eventually I could call him to me right through the pen and he wouldn't take any notice. You need to teach your dog that it's much better to ignore them.

Floralnomad Tue 19-May-15 14:10:42

I really think it depends on the dog , when I was growing up we had a rabbit and a spaniel x collie (rough) ,the rabbit was loose in the garden all day and used to take the dogs bonios away and eat them . When we got our current dog ( patterdaleX ) he was 15 weeks ( rescue) and he spent 3.5 yrs trying to liberate the rabbit from his cage ( so he could eat him) and it wasn't safe to leave them in the garden together even with them both secured behind fences - it made no difference how many times I introduced them , sat with them both or whatever my dog is obsessed with killing anything small and furry ( that isn't a dog) .

Whatamuckingfuddle Tue 19-May-15 14:12:08

Thank you, maybe I'll try a couple of minutes a day of his usual training near the rabbits and get slowly closer? What a brave trainer.!!!

Whatamuckingfuddle Tue 19-May-15 14:15:21

Sorry floral, just saw your reply, I honestly don't think he wants to kill, he comes from two working lines so SHOULD have a soft mouth....he is just deeply interested and definitely chases and accidents happen. I also don't want to terrify the rabbits.

MsAdorabelleDearheartVonLipwig Tue 19-May-15 14:49:53

A soft mouth means literally that, he will pick game up very gently and not bite it or damage it. You need to nip the chase urge in the bud. I'd look around for a gun dog training club near you, they'll be in a better position to advise you if they can see the dog.

Floralnomad Tue 19-May-15 15:01:16

Well that's a good starting point then ,although rabbits are easily scared to death . My terrier definitely wants to kill ,not eat just shake to death. There is a man I walk with sometimes who has 2 gundogs ( a lab and a working cocker) ,they go to shoots at least twice a week but his cocker still chases and kills rabbits on the local heath .

Whatamuckingfuddle Tue 19-May-15 17:03:39

Thank you for your help, I think I might do training near the rabbits and otherwise keep them apart, it's just kinder for everyone, I should probably remember that dogs naturally chase and rabbits are natural prey, was secretly hoping for lots of stories about how rabbits and dogs became best of friends!

Fudgeface123 Wed 20-May-15 08:22:58

If you know your dog has chased and killed rabbits before, why would you get rabbits, especially as a PP has said that they came literally be scare to death?

JoffreyBaratheonFirstofHisName Wed 20-May-15 10:07:08

They can and do drop dead from fear instantly. I keep angora bunnies because I'm a handspinner, and once came down to my buns (who were locked up at night in a secure, brick outhouse) to find two of them dead. Not a mark on them - no illness or disease. We'd heard foxes - the buns must have, as well. Another time I heard a fox and its cubs making a racket down the side of our house. In the morning I found a very young, healthy looking hare, dead. It had been hiding behind a bike propped against the side of the house.

What you're describing with the wild rabbit is instincts and prey drive kicking in. I'm afraid the fact the dog seemed shocked afterwards is no guarantee he won't do it again. It's hard to train prey drive out. So your job will be to keep the buns secure.

Now, that said...

If your area is fox proof it will hopefully be dog proof. But it might not be.

Our old dog (bull terrier) was utterly kind to rabbits. I have to have them on my knee to groom them and she would sit an inch away, and just ignore them entirely. So when she died last year we got a young, bouncy staffy cross, I was dreading what would happen when we let her in the bottom garden (it's behind a gate and she's only allowed in it when we are there too). As the buns were out in their run. She clocked them; stopped in her tracks and then looked terrified. Even now, she won't go up to them. I still only groom them when she is on a walk or firmly shut in another room just in case. A dog can tear apart a rabbit run to get to a bun - even a foxproof one. I know some Jack Russells who did that, round here.

My other bun is in a hutch and run in the front garden and my neighbour's border collie actually goes up to the hutch to say hello to bun every time she gets back from a walk. And it's not in a "Hello, dinner!" kind of way but a "Hellol old friend" kinda way. So you never know.

The buns I have now seem to ignore dogs. But I have had buns in the past who would be scared.

I would make sure the buns' area is super secure.

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