Kaninhop and Other Games: Action for Cunning Rabbits

Rabbits can do much more than mumble and look cute: the animals are naturally agile, nimble creatures. You are on the move with astonishing speed, jumping power, and agility. When running, hitting the hook, and overcoming obstacles, nobody can fool the rabbits so quickly. In addition, rabbits are very intelligent animals. No wonder – in order to survive in the wild, they must always be attentive and demonstrate maximum adaptability. These are all qualities that a domestic rabbit also has, but which often lie fallow in the enclosure. Encourage your rabbits and play with them: you will be amazed at what they can do.

Why Should I Play With My Rabbit?

It is a common misconception among laypeople that rabbits are passive animals. When observing rabbits during the day, it appears that they are mostly resting. In reality, rabbits are naturally twilight-active and are particularly in top form early in the morning and in the evening hours. Then, when you give your rabbit a free run, you can watch them explore their surroundings, jump on furniture, inspect open cupboards, and generally show great interest in anything.

You should encourage the rabbits to play so that this urge to explore does not slip into unwanted paths, such as “vandalism” on wooden furniture or permanent attempts to escape. This also strengthens your relationship with the animals. Like cats, most rabbits are playful animals who love to interact with their owner – especially if they can get a treat. Rabbits can learn little tricks and are usually also interested in exciting obstacle courses. With an appealing mental challenge, rabbits stay clever and lively, and with sufficient exercise, you also keep the animals fit and healthy. So it pays to plan enough time every day for the game together.

What Rabbit Games are There?

Every rabbit has its own character and very individual talents. Find out what your animals are like. If a rabbit proves to be an intelligent beast, search games, fiddling toys or problem-solving tasks are just the thing. An animal is not particularly smart, but loves to move as fast as possible? Obstacle courses are a challenge for this sporty rabbit. With suitable toys to hide, climb on and gnaw at, the rabbits can keep themselves busy for a while. Try some games:

Rabbit games

  • Intelligence and search games;
  • Open the gate by pushing it open or pulling it open;
  • Listen to names and commands;
  • Dexterity toys such as food and hay balls;
  • Tunnels, bridges, or tubes (made of natural material suitable for small animals);
  • Sniffing mats;
  • Playful hide and seek (the latter only for trusting and courageous rabbits);
  • Jump over or cross individual obstacles;
  • Perform little tricks, such as making a manikin or shaking a paw;
  • Kaninhop obstacle course.

Even daily feeding can be playful and keep the animals fit. A tuft of herbs that the rabbits have to hang around for, or a treat hidden deep down in a box full of newspaper motivates them to work out their food.

Which Obstacles are Good for Rabbit Hopping?

Kaninhop is agility for long ears: In the 1980s rabbit breeders in Scandinavia discovered that their animals were interested in obstacle courses and that they apparently enjoyed trying out their skills in it. Similar to the well-known canine skill sport, it turned out that rabbits are quite up to such challenges. In order to animate the rabbits, their natural urge to move and curiosity is used and, as should be the case with any game with animals, a lot of patience, praise and treats are worked on. However, you should only do Kaninhop with strong-nerved, not very frightened, and physically fit animals. There are official rabbit hop tournaments in which the rabbit is led on a leash in a special rabbit harness so that he can cross the course together with his owner.

The equipment for Kaninhop includes, similar to dog agility, hurdles, tunnels, seesaws and slalom poles. These are available from specialist retailers in the appropriate size, but you can also make them yourself with simple means. Pay attention to safety and stability: The Kaninhop obstacles must be so light and solid that the animal cannot injure itself or be frightened and permanently lose the fun of the training. Rabbits are flight animals that seek cover when there is danger, carefully memorize unpleasant situations and horror experiences and avoid them in the future. It is important that you introduce the rabbit to the individual obstacles in a playful way and motivate it with positive reinforcement. For example, entice the animal to jump over a small hurdle with a treat and reward it if it lets itself into it. Once the animal has recognized the connection between the hopscotch and the dandelion leaf, it will start showing you the trick on its own initiative.

Does Clicker Training Work in Rabbits?

As soon as the rabbit has passed its flailing period, i.e. between four and eight months of age, it should be able to concentrate and engage in training measures. Rabbits respond well to the familiar clicker training. Desired behavior is reinforced by giving a reward at the same time as an acoustic signal. This is usually generated with a cracking frog, but in general other noises occurring in the vicinity of the animal or a special signal word are also suitable.

The animal learns to associate the sound with confirmation of its behavior; the signal bridges the point in time between the desired action and the award of the reward. Clicker training is particularly suitable for teaching rabbits tricks and commands. In addition to entertaining tricks like doing males or turning around, it is extremely practical when the animal learns to hear shouts like “Come”, “No” or its name.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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