Teach Your Bunny Rabbit These 25 Fun Tricks
If you happen to own a rabbit, you probably know that they are much smarter than people think. They are capable of learning quite a few things and can learn to recognize both verbal and hand cues.
Rabbit owners know their bunnies recognize not only their voice but the sound of the food bin being opened. Using positive reinforcement training, it’s easy to train a bunny rabbit to do all kinds of tricks. This type of training uses a marker (usually a clicker or a one-syllable word) to “mark” when your rabbit does what you want. Then, that marker is followed by a reward — usually food but really anything your rabbit likes.
There are multiple ways to train every trick. To get you started, we spoke with professional trick trainers for tips on the best ways to teach your rabbit 25 tricks.
Rabbits can learn “sit” just like your dog can! It’s a fairly easy trick, so a good one to start with.
Most rabbits will probably just offer a sit, so you can “capture” it by marking it when your rabbit does it and then rewarding them.
If that doesn’t work, you can also try luring them into a sit by putting a treat near their nose and then slowly drawing your hand back.
As they follow the treat, their rump will naturally have to go down into a sit. Mark and reward!
Once your rabbit knows sit, you can also teach them to stay.
This is a useful trick, as you can use it when you need to open your rabbit’s pen but don’t want them to hop out.
If you have trained a dog to stay using positive reinforcement, you can use the same techniques here. Ask your rabbit to sit, and then, instead of marking right away, delay your mark for a second or two, then mark and reward.
The key here is to build up duration slowly. If they break their stay, it’s OK. Just get them back to where they were and start over, marking at a shorter interval this time.
There is nothing cuter than a rabbit “sitting up” or “sitting pretty.” It’s actually a natural position for them and one they do when they hear or see something that catches their attention.
It’s a great trick to teach for photo ops or just for fun.
Sit Pretty Tips
Like sit, you can wait until your rabbit offers this fun trick and then mark and reward. If your bunny is not offering to sit pretty, you can use the lure technique here, too.
This time, put the treat near your rabbit’s nose and slowly lift your hand up and back just a bit so they sit on their rump (otherwise, they will be standing on their legs, which is not a stable position for them). Mark as soon as the rump is down and the front legs are up.
The mat trick teaches your rabbit to go to a blanket or grass mat and stay there until released.
It’s a bit more of a complicated trick but can be useful if you need your rabbit to get into a safe area quickly or to stay out of the way while you are cleaning their area.
To start mat training, you are going to shape (mark and reward in small steps!) any movement your rabbit takes to his mat. It should be the same mat every time to begin with, and the mat should be fairly close, just a few steps. Each time, up the criteria.
So, if the first time your rabbit takes two steps toward the mat, see if the second time you can get two steps. Then, see if you can delay your mark until your rabbit has put a foot on the mat. When you reward for this behavior, toss the treat a bit away from the mat so your bunny comes of it, and you can reset for the next step. Continuing shaping until your rabbit is going right on the mat with all four feet. Then, you can start adding in a “stay” with the tips from above.
The pedestal is a fun trick that many rabbits like because it puts them up high a bit. You can use anything for your pedestal — a small box, an overturned bowl, etc.
Just be sure that it’s not so high as to pose a risk if your rabbit leaps off, that it’s big enough for your rabbit to fit comfortably on it and that it won’t move around when your rabbit is trying to jump on it.
For teaching this trick, use the same shaping method used for targeting the mat. Mark and reward any movements toward it. Being naturally curious and natural jumpers, most rabbits do not take too long to decide to jump on the pedestal.
If yours seems unsure, you can try a shorter pedestal that may be easier for them to climb.
Jump Through Hoop
Jumping through a hoop is a good trick to give your rabbit some exercise as well as to impress your friends! Any round, hoop-like object will work.
The inside for an embroidery hoop is great, and they come in all sizes.
Jump Through Hoop Tips
Start with the hoop standing up on the ground. You will either have to hold it with one hand or make something to hold it up. Being naturally curious, most rabbits will come up to explore this new thing you have presented. Mark and reward for any interaction with it.
Some will naturally hop right through — again, mark and reward! If not, you can lure them through by putting a treat to their nose. Once they are going through, start to gradually raise the hoop higher until they are jumping.
This is one of the sweetest tricks that really has no “purpose” other than being ridiculously cute. “Rabbit kisses” are when they come over and touch their nose to your nose.
Take it from us, you haven’t felt pure joy until you have felt a rabbit nose and whiskers on your face!
Give Kisses Tips
Having already taught Sit Pretty can help because your rabbit may be more likely to reach up towards you, but it’s not necessary. Remember you are going to have to bend your head down to make it so your rabbit can actually reach your face. If your rabbit is comfortable with it, having them on your lap for this can make it easier.
Some naturally curious rabbits may sniff your face as soon as you get it close to them, so definitely mark and reward that. Otherwise, use a treat and lure them to bring their face close to yours.
If you have already taught Pedestal, then this trick will be a cinch.
It’s handy for signaling your rabbit to jump into your lap.
Jump Up Tips
Teach this in the same way as Pedestal, but use your lap as the target instead of a box.
You can shape the behavior by marking or rewarding small movements towards your lap or by luring your rabbit. Do what works best for your bunny!
Push a Ball
Rabbits like to play with toys, so teaching one to push a ball around on cue is not too difficult.
This is definitely a “just for fun” trick, but it can be a good way to make sure your rabbit is getting exercise and can be a base trick for other fun things, like pushing a ball into a goal.
Push a Ball
This trick is definitely easiest with capturing. Bring out a new ball that your rabbit hasn’t seen so they are more curious about it.
Mark or reward your rabbit for any interaction. They will catch on quickly that pushing a ball results in treats!
Pick Up Something
This is another “trick” that rabbits do naturally, so it’s fairly easy to put on a cue.
It’s a fun trick that can be used as a base for even more fun behaviors.
Pick Up Something Tips
Place an object you are fairly certain your rabbit will pick up in front of them. It should be light and easy for them to grab with their teeth. You may be able to capture the behavior by waiting for them to pick it up and then mark or reward.
For others, you may need to shape it in small steps of them first sniffing or nudging the item (be careful that it does not turn into “push” especially if you have been working on that trick, too). For those rabbits that seem really unwilling, try something they may want to eat, like a stick or piece of an alfalfa cube for starters. Then, once they get the concept, you can expand and try something non-edible like a ball.
This is another trick that is easier if your rabbit already knows to sit or even Sit Pretty.
It’s a cute trick that kids will love!
High Five Tips
While your rabbit is sitting, place your hand in front of them. Most likely they will lean forward to sniff. Don’t mark that. Wait until they move a front paw towards you, and then mark or reward.
Keep shaping the behavior until your rabbit places their paw on your hand every time you present it.
Spin is a fun trick that you can teach in both directions — spin left and spin right.
It’s best to work on just one direction and then move to the other once your rabbit has mastered the first.
To teach a spin, you can lure your rabbit in one direction. Don’t do a whole circle at first. Instead, do a quarter turn and then mark or reward. Build that up until you are doing a full circle in that same direction.
You can keep your lure hand as your signal, or put this on a verbal “right” or “left” and fade your hand from the trick by moving it further and farther away from your rabbit’s face.
This is a harder trick, as most rabbits do not lay all the way down unless they’re very relaxed.
That said, teaching your rabbit to do it on cue may help them learn how to relax.
Lay Down Tips
Work on this trick after your rabbit has had some exercise and is a bit tired. You may be able to capture it, but most likely you will have to use luring. When your rabbit is sitting, put a treat near his nose and move your hand down and out a bit, so your rabbit has to reach his head out and down.
Watch for those front feet to move forward and the back feet to flip out. Mark or reward any foot movements that are heading towards a lay down. Don’t forget: Be patient with this trick!
After teaching your rabbit to pick something up, you can teach them to fetch. This is a complicated trick that is fun but also takes a lot of time.
It’s easiest if you do something called “backward chaining,” in which you start with the end of the behavior and work back.
Once your rabbit is picking something up, place your hand right underneath the object, so when they drop it, it falls into your hand. Mark or reward this a few times. Then, move your hand just ever so slightly away.
Did your rabbit move to place the object in your hand? If so, yay! Mark or reward. If not, you may have to go back to the first step a few more times. Otherwise, continue to move your hand farther and farther away, as long as your rabbit is following your hand to place the item in it.
Then, start to put the ball just out of reach of your bunny. Do they go get it? If so mark or reward. Repeat this a few times, gradually adding distance between the bunny and the ball. Now, place your hand close to them again to combine getting the ball and giving it back to you. Gradually increase distance.
Make a Basket
Wouldn’t a basketball-playing rabbit be just the cutest thing? This is a fun trick that takes time but is well worth it.
Maybe you can even get your bunny rabbit to beat the world record of most slam dunks (seven) in one minute by a rabbit.
Make a Basket Tips
If your rabbit has mastered picking something up and fetch, you can now teach them to put that ball somewhere other than your hand, like a basket! Bring out whatever you want your rabbit to put it in — a tiny basketball hoop, a small basket, a box, whatever — and place it right near your rabbit and the ball.
Once your rabbit has picked up the ball, mark or reward for any movement toward the basket. If it helps, you can put your hand over the basket at the beginning since your rabbit is used to targeting to your hand. Then, you can slowly fade your hand out of the picture.
“Crate is a practical skill for all animals to learn,” says Emily Cassell, owner of Small Animal Resources and a certified trick dog instructor who also holds her own online rabbit clicker training courses.
“By practicing crating more often than you need it, you can ensure that your pet associates the crate with the many positive experiences rather than the occasional vet visit!”
Crate training a rabbit is the same as crate training a dog. By feeding them inside their crate with the door open, your rabbit will start to associate the crate with good things.
You can also use shaping to teach your rabbit to go into their crate on cue.
Targeting is a fun trick that can make teaching other tricks a lot easier. (For example, you can use your target pole as a lure to teach spin.)
“Most rabbits get really into running as fast as they can after the target pole, and it takes on a positive association all on its own,” says Cassell. “Using a target pole to move your bunny around can be a great way to avoid picking them up, something that most rabbits really don't enjoy.”
Target Pole Tips
Start by having the target end of the pole (usually a round ball, but it depends on your target stick) very close to your rabbit’s nose. Mark or reward for any movement toward it.
Increase the distance between your rabbit’s nose and the stick as long as they are successfully targeting it. Then, work on putting the target to each side and even above your rabbit’s head.
“[Shake] helps them associate positive experiences with hands and can help create trust in their person,” explains Cassell.
“Often, this behavior takes longer to become solid in rabbits because they often are unsure of placing their feet on soft, moving surfaces, such as our hands. Regular practice, high-value treats and openness to lowering criteria as needed help build trust in this behavior.”
You can teach this trick the same as a high five, except you add in closing your hand around the paw and gently holding it. This is going to take more time.
You may have to counter-condition the behavior (by feeding treats consistently while you slowly close your hand around the paw) to make sure your rabbit is comfortable with it.
“This is a wonderful proprioception exercise for rabbits,” says Cassell.
“It takes a lot of time to build trust in this as the barrel is moving. This is an impressive trick that, once complete, is a huge accomplishment for both bunny and trainer.”
Barrel Roll Tips
If you are ready for this advanced trick, find a barrel of some type that is big enough to fit your rabbit on top. Like other tricks, start by marking or rewarding any interaction with the barrel, working towards getting your rabbit to put those front feet on it.
The barrel is going to move, so this does take some time for both you and your rabbit to figure it out. To start you may want to hold the barrel still. Remeber: Patience is the key to this trick.
This trick is great for giving your rabbit some exercise.
“This is a fun trick for most bunnies,” says Cassell. “They enjoy learning to weave and often return to the starting line quickly to show their enthusiasm for the trick!”
Leg Weave Tips
This trick is easiest with a target pole; otherwise, you will have to bend down pretty far. Lure your rabbit using the pole to first circle through one leg and then the other, creating a figure-eight pattern.
Be sure you are balanced so you do not fall on your rabbit.
Rabbits live in burrows in the ground, so a tunnel is a natural and fun thing for them. Before you start to teach your rabbit to run through the tunnel on cue, let them explore it.
“Be sure to leave the tunnel in your rabbit's space for at least 15 minutes before starting a training session, as they need some time to explore on their own before they will focus on earning treats,” Cassell advises. “Rabbits have to first establish new props as safe before they are willing to take food around them.”
When they are going through it on their own, you can capture the behavior by marking or rewarding them for going through and then adding a cue, such as “tunnel,” right before they enter.
For unsure rabbits, you can try luring them through the tunnel or placing a target stick (if they have been trained to use one) on the other side to encourage them to go through.
Hopping Through a Hoop on the Ground
This advanced trick is impressive for people to watch and fun for your rabbit, but it will take time.
“The hardest part of this trick is to find a hoop that works right for your bunny,” says Cassell. “I prefer thick-walled hoops as they are easier for the bunny to push up with their nose.”
Hopping Through a Hoop on the Ground Tips
To teach it, you are going to use a behavior chain, says Cassell. First, lure, shape or capture your rabbit hopping into the middle of the hoop. Next, shape pushing their nose under the hoop.
Next, mark hopping through the hoop opening they have made. Finally, spin to complete going back through the hoop.
“This is another fun one for rabbits and is a definite challenge for the trainer,” says Cassell.
“In this trick, the rabbit circles the trainer and hops over each outstretched arm.”
Cassell says to teach with the second arm first.
Then, use a target pole to direct your bunny while they are behind your back.
Rabbits have great noses, so this game allows them to use their natural instincts as well as their problem-solving skills.
“Rabbits are masters at nose work, and they really seem to enjoy it,” says Cassell. “Teach them to find the right ‘shell’ by searching for a scent. I suggest something edible that your bunny isn't too excited about. This helps reduce overexcitement and ‘bowling’ for treats.”
Shell Game Tips
Start with just one shell (or another overturned item that your rabbit can flip over) with a treat under it. Mark or reward your rabbit for flipping the item over.
Once they have caught onto this, try adding a second shell with nothing under it. Does your rabbit choose the right one? If so, mark or reward. If not, it’s OK — they can try again!
“Rabbits are wonderful at agility-style tricks,” says Cassell. “The hardest part is finding a prop that is bunny-sized!”
Cassell says to also make sure that safety is always a top priority when trick training by keeping props low to the ground and comfortable for the rabbit. Add grips such as carpets to help them feel secure on props. Rabbits have fur covering their paw pads, so they are more likely to slip than dogs and cats.
Once you have found an appropriate teeter-totter, you can teach your rabbit to go on it using shaping or luring. Start with the side that is down, as that is often easier for them. You can also go to the high end and have them hop on it sideways (so they stay on the same side of the teeter).
Sometimes, this can make an animal more comfortable about the movement before progressing to going over it the longways. Reward them for stepping on to both sides before trying to get them to go all the way across.