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First of all, don’t worry if your rabbit runs away from you.
It doesn’t mean that they hate you or that you’re a bad owner.
I know I say this in every article, but rabbits are prey animals. They’re far less likely to be waiting for you at the door, excited to see you. Get a dog if that’s what you want.
Quick note though: in general, giant rabbit breeds tend to be a little more gregarious than smaller ones.
From what I’ve read Netherland dwarves are a bit like Shetland ponies – what they lack in size they make up for in tenacity and attitude.
Our Netherland is a sweet little soul, BUT she does insist on humping her mother (I’m assured it’s a dominance thing) despite being quite disabled. Never mind.
Also, I can’t promise that your rabbit will ever stop running from you. Holly can just about tolerate us getting up and going into the other room for a glass of water or something, but she is NOT a fan of coughing and sneezing, and she’d really prefer it if we didn’t speak.
Rabbits run away when they’re scared
This is most likely the reason that your rabbit runs away from you.
It isn’t necessarily that you’re scary, just that you startled them by opening the door or moving too quickly or committed some other hideous crime.
The thing about rabbits is that they perceive a threat and are miles away before they’ve fully comprehended what it was.
A dog might jump, realise it’s you, and come up to you; tail wagging. You startled them, but there was no real harm done. Dogs are more likely to have to avoid predators than actually fight them, but usually, they are the predator.
Rabbits don’t have the luxury of waiting to see if it’s you, because if it isn’t, they might be lunch.
Dogs can safely assume that it’s probably you, but also that they could fight whoever it is. The smaller the dog, the more confident it is that it’ll be victorious in any scuffle.
It’s in a rabbit’s best interest to fuck off asap, just in case.
If your rabbit running away from you upsets you, reframe it like this in your head: if, god forbid, it ever escapes, it’ll be in a better position to avoid predators.
Rabbits run away when they’re playing
You can usually tell a playful run away because you get a little head shake of excitement, like a mini binky.
Sometimes you get a little leg kick too, but that can also be a sign that they’re mad at you.
(Rabbits are such divas)
It’s these little behaviours that can help you determine whether your rabbit is one of the few that like to be chased. Take a step towards them and see what they do.
Holly HATES being chased but she quite often does a little playful binky away from us. We just enjoy it an move on, because if we move towards her, she panics and runs into her bolthole.
Here she is, currently watching me work:
She’s content enough (I mean, she’s fast asleep), but if I move towards her, she’ll get ready to run. If I want to stroke her, I have to move very slowly and fluidly (which does NOT come naturally to an ungraceful creature such as I).
Rabbits run away when they’re mad at you
Rabbits can get mad at you for a lot of reasons. We’re forever doing things that they don’t approve of.
One of ours refused to have anything to do with us if he suspected we’d had any alcohol – we’re not mean drunks or anything, but we got him at 18 months, so he may have had a bad experience. Or even just not like the smell.
We’ve never experienced that before or since, but we just respected it. He clearly had boundaries and it’s a bit rude to violate someone’s boundaries unnecessarily.
Rabbits run away if they don’t feel like engaging
This is especially the case when you have quite a cuddly bun. Sometimes they’re just not feeling being a lap bunny. We all have those days when we’re just not feeling very people-y. Just leave ’em alone.
The more you respect a rabbit’s space, the more they’ll come to trust you.
I know being rejected hurts, but being manhandled when you don’t want to be hurts more (though not as much as being bitten which is where you’re headed if you violate a rabbit’s space too much).
Rabbits run away when they smell something unfamiliar
Especially something that they perceive as a threat.
You may know that the dog you petted on your way home lives 30 miles away. You may know that it is not currently residing in your pocket.
Your rabbit does NOT know that.
All they know is that you STINK of a potential MURDERER.
Honestly, it’d be weird if they didn’t run away.
You may be thinking, but I NEVER pet dogs, but some rabbits don’t like any unfamiliar smell. If you’ve walked past a field having muck spread on it, or worn a new perfume, or ANYTHING, you my be getting the silent treatment for a few hours.
What should you do if your rabbit runs away from you?
It’s usually best to leave them alone. Clearly, something is bugging them, and they’re not going to want you all up in their grill.
Keep an eye on them to make sure they’re eating and drinking ok, but other than that, wait for them to make the first move. You don’t want to come off as desperate.