How To Teach Your Child To Play Gently With Your Rabbit

Getting a pet can be a wonderful way to teach your children about responsibility and help them create an unbreakable bond with an animal. But if you don’t feel like your family is quite ready to take on the extra responsibility of a cat or dog, you might be thinking about getting a smaller, more low-maintenance pet. For families who are thinking about getting a pet for the first time, a rabbit can be ideal. Generally, rabbits like to be in twos, so consider this before you commit. They will need a hutch, a secure outdoor space to play and exercise, and you’ll need to feed them and clean their environment regularly. Unlike dogs they don’t need a lot of attention or walking, so they can be the perfect pet to help teach your children about responsible animal care. We’ve put together some top tips to help you teach your child how to behave around their new rabbit. 

Preparations to Make:
Before you introduce the rabbit to your kids, consider getting pet insurance that will cover any vet bills in the event of anything going wrong. Of course, you trust your children to listen to you and be gentle and careful with the rabbit, but anything could happen, for example, if the rabbit gets scared and hurts themselves. Also, insurance will also cover you financially if your rabbit gets sick or is lost. There are different types of rabbit insurance cover out there to choose from, from different providers. Everypaw does not offer rabbit insurance yet, you can compare quotes here, but you will be  redirected to its sister site, where you can find insurance for rabbits.
Set Up a Safe Space:
Begin by setting up a safe space where your children and the rabbit can get to know each other. Speak to your child beforehand and let them know that the rabbit might be a little scared and worried because it’s all new to them, and let them know that they need to respect the rabbit and be gentle with him to help him get used to his new family. Set up the cage in such a way that the rabbit is able to easily go in there and be on his own if needed. Make sure that your child knows not to obstruct the rabbit from getting in the cage. 
Teach About Petting:
Once your rabbit has become a little more confident and is getting to know you, you can move on to teaching your child about petting them. You might want to help by giving your child some treats to offer the rabbit, as this will help to build trust and show the rabbit that there’s nothing to be worried about. Speak to your child about the importance of learning the rabbit’s body language and only petting them when they appear to be calm and relaxed. Make sure that your child knows not to pet the rabbit if they run away and to let them go if they decide that they have had enough of being petted. Guide your child’s hand gently over the rabbit’s ears, head, and upper back and teach him how to smooth the rabbit’s fur rather than grab it. 
Feeding Your Rabbit:
Looking after your rabbit is a big step in teaching your child about responsibility and looking after a pet. At first, let your child help you with feeding the rabbit in their food bowl and giving treats. Explain what the rabbit eats and why it’s important that the rabbit has the right amount of food at the right times each day. Teach your child about giving treats to the rabbit and why they should not have too many. Show them how to fill up the rabbit’s water bottle and how to attach it to the hutch. 
Cleaning the Hutch:
Speak to your child about where the rabbit goes to the toilet and explain to them why this area needs to be kept clean and comfortable for their pet. Depending on the age of your child, you might need to explain to them what the rabbit droppings are and why they are dirty. Clean up the rabbit’s hutch together and show your child how to do it safely, prioritising washing your hands afterwards. You might want to wear gloves to do this and teach your child to do the same. Show your child how to put fresh bedding down in the hutch and make it cosy and safe for your rabbit after cleaning. 
Building a Friendship:
Rabbits might not be typically as sociable as most dogs and some cats, but many rabbit owners bond with their pets and have a fantastic friendship. Once your child has gotten used to the rabbit and is able to read their body language, you can teach them about the fundamentals of becoming good friends with their pet. Some rabbit breeds can be trusted to roam around the home as they please and your child might find that sitting with their rabbit while doing homework, reading or watching television can help them bond. Make sure that the child knows that they can invite the rabbit to come and sit on their lap and be petted, but never to force it. Explain to your child that a rabbit who feels comfortable and safe around them is more likely to come to them and ask to be petted, and it’s always more enjoyable when the rabbit does that. 
Teaching Responsibility:
Many parents decide to get a rabbit for their child in order to help teach some responsibility. However, there are some things to consider. Some younger kids might lose interest after a while or find it difficult to stick to a routine of feeding and providing proper care, so make sure that when you get a rabbit, you are willing to look after it yourself if your child is not able to and encourage her to help you rather than insisting on it. Your child will learn about being responsible and taking proper care of the rabbit through a good example that you set as the parent. 
A pet rabbit can become your child’s best friend, so make sure that you do the groundwork when teaching your child how to behave around their new pet. 

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