You've just brought your new rabbit home, you've got all the equipment, you've done all your research - but your new pet is scared stiff of you! However, any rabbit can be won over with time and patience - read this article to learn how to bond with your rabbit.
Understand what rabbits are not. Because they look like cuddly toys, many people automatically assume rabbits love being hugged and petted - they do not. This is an extremely important step; if you try and cuddle your pet constantly, he/she will be terrified of you and you will never be able to make friends.
Get him/her used to your voice. Sit next to his cage every day for a few hours, reading out loud, absently chatting while you check your emails, even saying nonsensical words as you do something else. It doesn't matter what you say; just keep your voice calm, relatively quiet, and friendly. Try not to shout near your rabbit. When you think your bunny is no longer frightened of your voice, go on to the next step. Remember not to rush it!
Remove distractions. Get everyone and everything that might cause a distraction out of the room containing your bunny - no pets, music, etc. Try to push most of the furniture against the walls for now. Make sure there are no hazards that may harm your bunny, such as trailing cables, small spaces under furniture where he may get stuck, etc. It may be a good idea to carry the cage up to the bathroom or another small space and block spaces behind toilets, furniture, etc. for the next steps.
Wait. Eventually, your rabbit's curiosity will get the better of him, and he will venture out of his cage. Be patient; remember this is a big thing for your rabbit - imagine if you were in his situation. As you wait, continue doing your activity. Ignore the rabbit completely. He will eventually hop up and investigate. Still ignore him. Let him sniff you all over. If he nips or bites you, squeal to indicate pain, but otherwise stay still and quiet. If he finds the treat, let him eat it.
- Try stroking him. When he seems absolutely comfortable in such close quarters with you, start talking quietly, reaching out your hand. Let him see it. Don't hold your hand directly in front of him; rabbit's eyes are on the sides of their head, and he may be unable to see your hand and feel uncomfortable.
Gently stroke him between his ears. Remember to keep talking. If the rabbit seems frightened or uncomfortable, pull your hand away slowly. It may help if you make a low humming noise, as rabbits sometimes use this noise to communicate with each other.
- Keep stroking him and letting him investigate you and the room. You can offer another tiny treat. Do not chase your bunny. Stay as quiet as possible. If the bunny hops back into his cage, let him. If you want to leave, slowly and gently close the door, talking all the while, and leave the room.