Can rabbits walk on a leash?
Yes, rabbits can walk on a leash, actually a harness is what rabbits need technically. If you need a recommendation on a good leash for rabbits check out this post. Rabbits are fully capable of walking or hopping on a leash. The bigger question is will they do it? That’s definitely rabbit dependent! No two rabbits are alike, some rabbits may love it, some may tolerate it and some will want nothing to do with it. Mr. Bunny, my current pet rabbit falls into the latter category, we have put a leash and he was not happy in the slightest.
Most rabbits will prefer to “free roam” as opposed to the restrictions of a leash both bodily and distance restrictions. Most rabbits can be trained to leash walk, we never tried to train Mr. Bunny because he is a free roaming rabbit 100% of the time so he gets plenty of hop/walk time in our home.
Rabbit Leash Safety
It is important to keep in mind that a rabbits skeleton is made up of small, thin bones and that their back bone is very delicate. Any type of tugging or pulling could cause harm or death to your rabbit. Your rabbit should be in charge of what they want to do while they are on a leash. never let small children “walk” a rabbit on a leash since they may cause harm.
The best type of rabbit leash
There are a number of different leashes that could be considered the “best rabbit leash.” Make sure that whatever type of leash you buy it does not only go around your rabbits neck. You should be looking for a harness style of leash. Make sure the harness wraps snugly around your rabbits body and is not to tight in one spot. If your rabbit fights you and struggles while you are putting on the leash I would stop and give up at this point. I can’t stress how delicate a rabbits back/spine is.
Advantages to walking rabbits on a leash
- Exercise – Your rabbit will likely get more exercise on the leash because you will be more comfortable venturing out further.
- Safety – You do not need to worry about losing your rabbit or your rabbit hopping away when they are confined to the distance of your leash. You can also easily pick your rabbit up quickly if you notice a predator (dog, owl, hawk etc…)
- Comfort – Being able to take your rabbit outside and venture into new environments will make them more comfortable going other places when necessary in the future (vet visits, boarding, etc.…)
Disadvantages to walking rabbits on a leash
- Safety– So as you noticed this is listed in both sections because its owner dependent. You must be sure to pay attention to your rabbit at ALL times while leash walking them. It’s so easy for a dog and many other predators to kill them very quickly. Also remember to never pull or force your rabbit to do anything while on a leash.
- Eating– Walking your rabbit outside gives them the opportunity to nibble on things they shouldn’t so again this is where you have to be sure to keep an eye on them at all times.
- Stress– Walking your bunny on a leash can be super stressful for them so be sure you gradually introduce this activity to prevent a stressful situation. We’ve provided some tips to make this a stress free activity. Please see the next paragraph: How do I walk me rabbit on a leash?
How do I walk my rabbit on a leash?
Step 1: Before attempting to walk your rabbit on a leash outdoors they need to be 100% comfortable with you indoors. If your rabbit hops right up to you when you get on their level and is comfortable interacting with you then you can mark this off the list.
Step 2: Next, you can start introducing the harness; rabbits can slip out of a collar very easily so a full body harness is required to walk them. Lay the harness out and allow your rabbit to sniff it, mark it and just get comfortable with the harness for a few hours before attempting to put it on them.
Step 3: After letting them “explore” the harness for a few hours, go ahead and put it on them. They may flip out, you need to ensure they stay close to the floor and are not vigorously hopping; they can easily break their back, if you can’t get your rabbit to calm down then take the harness off and try it again at another time.
Step 4: Once you can successfully get the harness on your rabbit, leave it on! Let them wear it for about 15-25 minutes each day just to get used to the feel of having the harness on. You’ll want to make sure it’s a god fit, you should be able to slip your pinky finger in between the harness and your rabbits body at all openings (head hole, leg hole, etc…) but not any more room than that.
Step 5: Now that your rabbit is comfortable in their harness you can start teaching them to follow your lead. You can do this with treats, a particular noise or a slight tug on their leash.
Step 6: Once your rabbit is completely comfortable in their leash and is willingly following your lead then you are ready to put your indoor leash training to the test of the outdoors. When taking your rabbit outdoors start slow, take a few steps and let them hop in your direction at their leisure. It is important to not force anything. If they only go a few paces before freezing up then call it a day, head back in and hope for a few more paces tomorrow.
Step 7: Repeat step six until your rabbit is completely comfortable following your lead outdoors, the key here is to be patient, and it will pay off in the long run. If you force your rabbit out before they are ready then they may never be comfortable on a leash outdoors so please practice patience here. Although it is rare, you may try this for several months and never have a rabbit that is comfortable on a leash and that is ok, again no two rabbits are the same!
About the Author
My name is Vanessa and I love my buns. My current house rabbit is Mr. Bunny, he is a black and white Dutch that just turned 9 years old.
I believe that rabbits are a magnificent animal that make great pets for SOME people. My mission is to share what I have learned about rabbits over the past 20 years to improve the relationship between our pets and us. Please contact me or comment if you have any questions or comments.