As Easter approaches, many families consider surprising their kids with a tiny bunny as part of the egg hunt. Domestic bunnies are super cute, soft, and easy to maintain. But if you already have a pet, who is a French bulldog, you might be worried a bit. Will they get along well? How long would it take to get them used to each other’s company? Can you leave them without supervision? In this article, we give you some advice on how to introduce a new bunny to your Frenchie if you want them to be friends for good.
First of all, we want to make it clear that domestic bunnies and Frenchies can live together. A well-trained dog would cause no harm to your bunny, but reaching this state takes some time. As you might know, bunnies and dogs are not evolutionarily designed to be friends. Their natural instinct is to fear and hunt each other. Luckily, French bulldogs don’t belong to the hunting breeds, so you have a great chance to form a bond between your barking friend and the new furball.
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#1 Tire your pup before first meeting your bunny
Although Frenchies are not a typical hunting breed, they can get excited when seeing a smaller animal running. They think it’s playtime, and start chasing the other animal. This is an instinct, and even if he has no intention to harm the bunny, he won’t be able to resist chasing it. Therefore, our advice is to tire your pup right before the first meeting. Go for a long walk and play a lot. A tired dog will less likely stress out a bunny.
#2 Keep the bunny in the cage and make your Frenchie lie next to it
Unlike cats, rabbits feel safe when they are in their cage. During the first few meetings, keep the bunny in the cage, and teach your dog to ignore him or her. When introducing a new pet to a dog, the key to success depends on the dog’s level of obedience. You Frenchie has to learn that you are the pack leader, and that he and the bunny are members of the pack. Your Frenchie needs to listen to your commands and obey them.
During the first few meetings, make your Frenchie lie down on his side next to the rabbit cage. This will teach him that he is not dominant over the bunny. You will need to teach him to remain calm by praising him, scratching his back, or giving him his favorite treat. If you experience any aggressive behavior, break them up for some time and continue the introduction at a later time.
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#3 Train your Frenchie to remain calm
Your Frenchie is much smarter than the bunny, so you need to teach him how to behave around the rabbit. This should happen gradually. Once your dog is calm around your rabbit in the cage, open the cage door and allow the rabbit to come out and investigate your dog at his own pace. Do not force the bunny out. Tell your Frenchie to stay on his side all along.
If your dog is remaining calm, allow him to lift his head and sniff or investigate the bunny, but insist he remains lying down. Allow the bunny to move around freely. Give your dog lots of praise and attention for being still and calm. Repeat frequently for several days. This stage will take significant time. Your bunny has to become comfortable approaching the dog, and your Frenchie has to learn not to react to the rabbit.
#4 Never leave them unsupervised
Your bunny and Frenchie probably won’t play with each other as dogs would, but your puppy will learn to leave the bunny alone and not to chase him or stress him out. We strongly recommend you keep an eye on both of them at all times, as bunnies don’t know how to defend themselves against an excited puppy.
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You can also check out our blogpost about introducing a new family member to your Frenchie.
If you’d like to learn more about Frenchies, join our Facebook group called TomKings Frenchie Family to read our Frenchie parents’ experiences.
The article is based on the expert knowledge of the TomKings Puppies team who have been breeding French Bulldogs for 10 years on their farm. All the pictures in the post belong to them and their customers, and show puppies from their breed. Check their available French Bulldog puppies, or if you have any questions or comments let us know below the article.