Training Bunny to use the Litter Box

Pet rabbit grooming himself outside.

Cleaning Time!

Rabbits are very clean animals that will use a litter box when trained. Unfortunately, our little Bunny was not at all litter box trained when we first got him. Just the opposite, really. He marked his territory aggressively and we had to run after him with a vacuum cleaner almost constantly to keep the house in an acceptable state. It soon dawned on us that Bunny would probably never stop leaving a handful of little drops every few steps he hopped, unless we got him neutered. Which is exactly what we did. But that is a different story and if you are interested, here it is.

Once Bunny had fully recovered, I researched ways to litter box train a rabbit. Bunny was already cage-free at that time. Some people suggested to simply place a litter box in the spot where the rabbit usually goes. Good idea, only he never seemed to favor one particular spot. We were also advised to keep Bunny in a very confined space, such as the bathroom, until he used the litter box in there. Once he did that we could give him the rest of the house back. I didn’t like the idea of locking him up in a dark bathroom with no human interaction. After all, if he didn’t choose to use his litter box when he had a cage, why would he do so now in a bathroom?

Restricting his space in the living room also didn’t work out, because then Bunny made it his number one goal to get out. Whatever we tried, however much we build up around him, he never stopped trying until he somehow managed to jump out. Very quickly did we give up this approach, because after all, he could possibly get hurt. It also again isolated him from us, which we didn’t like.

Then someone suggested to try out several different beddings, because sometimes rabbits will choose to use a litter box based on what’s inside it. Also a great theory, but after experimenting with straw, wood chips, corn (hated that stuff, we still find it on the floor sometimes), hay, newspaper, and Carefresh, we realized that Bunny didn’t care what was in the litter box. He inspected and then ignored everything equally. Another source suggested to always pick up all the drops from the floor and place them in the litter box, along with paper towels soaked in the rabbit’s pee. After a while Bunny was supposed to understand that the litter box was the place to go… He didn’t.

Cheap plastic litter box.

Bunny’s Litter Box

Long story short, here is what we ended up doing: We bought 6 small cat litter boxes from Walmart, filled them all with Carefresh and a bit of fresh hay, and distributed them all over the living and dining room (to which Bunny was confined during that time). We didn’t just put them in corners, though, but right in the middle of the room as well. Every time Bunny went on the floor, one of us (whoever happened to see it) picked him up, said “no” in a strict voice, and placed him in the nearest litter box. Whenever he hopped into one by himself (even if he didn’t use it), we praised him like crazy and often gave him a small piece of fruit as a reward. It took a whole weekend, but Bunny understood!

He now used 6 different litter boxes without any accidents… And you can imagine what our home looked like! But slowly, he started to favor certain litter boxes and I removed one at a time over a 2-3 week span until he was left with only one. Besides from a few stray drops he’s been trained ever since. To be quite honest, he could use a little refreshment course, though. The way from our bedroom, where he likes to sleep, all the way to his litter box in the living room often seems too stressful a journey to take on, so Bunny has been known to forget all about his training, temporarily. Little munchkin.

The verbal approach with a reward for sitting in the litter box worked for us, but every rabbit is different and will respond to different methods. Maybe one of the ones that didn’t work for us will be perfect for you! Just keep trying and be consistent.

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Author: Bunny Approved

5 Comments

  1. Fran
    Fran On August 28, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    Hi there!

    I just stumbled across your blog! I LOVE IT! Bunnies are the greatest. My 6 month old Netherlands dwarf is potty trained.. he was very easy to train which was great for us. He has freedom to roam around our house but mainly sticks to the bedroom..

    When we come home from work – we usually give Billie a big hello and some food .. we gets lots of licks and binks.. very cute.. Although even if we spend a couple of hours with him he has a naughty habit if we walk outside the room to make dinner he decides that pooping and peeing on our bed is fun! !! Wondering if there is any advise you may give so i can train him to stop.. i know he does it on purpose.. he sits there with the cutest look on his face and then when we get close enough to pat him he bolts away runs in his cage and hides.. only to pop his nose out to have a giggle at what he did.. Of course we never punish him.. i more or less have some words with him telling him he is a big bunny now and pooping on the bed is for baby bunnies..

    Any help would be great =D

    thanks

    Fran

    • bunnyapprovedblog
      bunnyapprovedblog On August 29, 2012 at 1:03 pm

      Glad you enjoy our blog! About your question: Is your rabbit neutered? It sounds like his hormones are calling the shots and he is marking his territory, so you don’t forget that he’s the boss (in his eyes, at least). Especially if he does that after you spend some time with him in the room he likes best – your smell will be all over it, so he might poo/pee to reclaim it. If he isn’t neutered, doing so may fix the problem. Bunny’s surgery cost a little over $100. You can read about it here. If he isn’t neutered you can try to claim the bed as yours and give him a different option.

  2. […] saw no reason why Bunny ever had to go into his cage, especially once we litter box trained him. Of course, after two weeks you cannot know an animal (or a person, for that matter) well […]

  3. […] Box: Rabbits are clean animals that like to use a litter box with appropriate bedding once trained. Stay away from cedar or pine shavings as litter. I know they are cheap, but they don’t […]

  4. ray
    ray On June 21, 2015 at 8:56 pm

    Does my bunny have to be spayed to beable to use the litter box and why did you neutor Bunny

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