Rabbits already know how to jump, so it isn’t terribly difficult to teach a rabbit how to jump into your lap. It may take a great deal of patience, but teaching your rabbit how to jump into your lap is a great bonding experience. By following these steps you will have your rabbit jumping into your lap in no time.
1. Encourage Them to Jump Onto or Over Something
Instead of forcing them to immediately jump into your lap, start small. Encourage them to jump over a small stick on the ground, it’ll help encourage them to come to treats and learn fun tricks. Instead of giving them large obstacles to accomplish, start small and slow. Guiding them over the stick encourages them and starts slow.
Of course, use healthy treats to encourage them. Don’t get too overexcited when they accomplish something small since rabbits don’t like loud noises or excessive attention.
A low bar doesn’t require them to jump too high but gives them a comfortable leap. As they learn to step over this, raise the bar slightly each time until they are doing a slight jump. This will take a few days to encourage them to jump over the bar. Rabbits have hops, so encourage them to be active and do something they are slightly more naturally keen to do.
2. Sit on the Ground
Your rabbit needs to be comfortable with your presence before they will want to sit in your lap. Rabbits are skittish creatures and want to know that they aren’t going to be threatened by you. Sitting on the ground will bring you closer to their level and allow them to see you; standing doesn’t make them feel comforted and staring at your feet doesn’t allow them to get to know you.
They’ll want to sit around you and feel free to give them soft and occasional pets so that they get accustomed to your touch.
3. Get Their Front Paws on Your Lap
Rabbits prefer to keep all four of their paws on the ground at all times, so it is best to not force them to be on your lap by picking them up and then placing your hands over them. Start by sitting on the ground so that your rabbit is more comfortable and not as afraid of jumping higher.
Sometimes it is best to allow them to think it is their idea by wanting to be with you and jump into your lap to be comforted. You can easily lure your rabbit near your lap by using a treat. It can be a carrot or berries, anything your rabbit loves, and train them by doing this first.
Encourage both of their front paws to be on your lap. Try not to allow them to have the treat if only one of their paws is on your lap. It is important to encourage them to be as close to you as they can before giving them the treat. A treat lets them know they’re doing good, one paw isn’t good.
Give them small encouraging pets and scratches right above their nose to let them know that you are proud and that will help them to know that they should keep doing this. Treats are great, but your love and affection will help as well.
WANT MORE BONDING TIME? If you’re looking for more specific ideas on how you can bond with your rabbit, see my page all about methods for bonding with your pet rabbit.
4. Help Them Stretch Into Your Lap
Now that they’re comfortable putting their paws into your lap and being around your hands, you can help them to get closer to being in your lap by bringing the treat closer to your body. Your rabbit will be forced to stretch further into your lap by putting their front paws closer to you. Your rabbit will be hesitant to jump fully into your lap, so encourage them to stretch as far as they can into your lap.
Don’t pull the treat closer to you as they reach for it. Set milestones for them to reach a little at a time. It won’t take a lot of encouragement, as they will now be used to the size of your lap, and willing to reach to get the treat from you.
Stretch them slowly into your lap. Don’t immediately bring the treat as close to your body as possible; instead, work little by little into your lap. Allow them to get used to your scent. Rabbits are cautious creatures and slow to learn when they feel uncomfortable. They will learn that by being on your lap there won’t be any repercussions when they come near your lap.
5. Hop Into Your Lap
Your rabbit is comfortable around you, and now we can move onto the final step. Bring the treat as close to you as you can so that the rabbit will have to jump into your lap to get the treat. As soon as they jump into your lap, give them soft pets as encouragement for them to want to be pet when they come into your lap.
Your bunny may jump back off of your lap after the first tries, but that is normal and should be expected. Don’t try to hold them down, they will never want your touch again.
Rabbits don’t normally want to be cuddled or suffocated by your presence when they are out of their cage. However, that behavior can be changed and they will grow comfortable with you after a period of time and patience. Continually put the treat as close to your body as possible to encourage them to get comfortable sitting there and being around you.
6. Try Sitting on the Couch
Now that your rabbit is more comfortable in your lap, encourage them to sit with you on the couch. You will first want to train them to jump onto the couch. Place a treat on the couch for them to jump up and enjoy. Don’t place it in your lap just yet.
Allow them to get comfortable jumping that far and being on an uneven surface. You’ll want to try this for at least a day. It’ll be a strange adjustment, but they will want to enjoy the treat, so use positive reinforcement.
Now that they are comfortably reaching the couch and know that they are safe with you, bring the treat into your lap. Of course, they may jump out as soon as they eat the treat, so allow them to get comfortable at first.
When they do get into your lap and stay there again, give them soft pets and scratches just above the noise to let them know they are safe and they did a good job. It will take a few days after it becomes a habit, but they will soon be comfortable and will enjoy relaxing in your lap from time to time.
Your rabbit may be more comfortable sitting next to you on the couch instead of trying to encourage them to sit on your lap. It is encouraged to do what is more comfortable for your rabbit rather than what you want them to do. They can be just as resilient as having a toddler.
How Difficult Is It to Train Your Rabbit?
Very young rabbits and older rabbits are more difficult to train. Younger rabbits have a mind of their own and don’t want to be pushed around. Sometimes spaying or neutering your rabbit will help to mellow your bunny out. Allow your young rabbit to adjust before teaching them tricks. As the popular saying goes, it is hard to teach an old dog new tricks, the same goes for rabbits.
Older rabbits have no desire to learn a new trick; they want to be able to relax and spend quality time with you and be out of their cage. You can certainly try to teach an older rabbit new tricks, but it will take a lot longer and will require a great deal more treats.
Stimulate Play Time
Rabbits love to have playtime, and they will be able to learn more quickly how to jump onto the couch by also encouraging playtime on the floor near the couch. Have plenty of willow balls to roll around with your bunny so that they feel stimulated and encouraged to have fun with you. Playing and spending time with you isn’t a reward, it is a bonding experience that rabbits enjoy.
Your rabbit will likely quickly began showing you affection fairly quickly, in their own way of course. See my page dedicated to the specific ways rabbits communicate so you know what to look for in your rabbit and what it means.
Encourage them to have fun and do little things such as playing with their willow balls with you. A little playtime engagement stimulates their brains and helps them work up to larger things such as jumping into your lap.
Lower Your Expectations
The thing about rabbits is that they aren’t cuddly animals, so do not expect them to stay in your lap if they decide to jump into it. Dogs enjoy being in your lap and cuddled, but that is not the case for rabbits.
Your rabbit is encouraged to be in your lap because you are presenting them with a treat, after a period of time it won’t take treats to get them into your lap, but they may not have a desire to stay. Just to reiterate, don’t force them down, that will only make them fear you.
- How to Show a Rabbit Affection: 8 Simple Tips – If you want to know how to show your rabbit affection in a way that they’ll understand (it might be different than you think), then take a look at this page where I outline how to do it effectively.
- Checklist: What You Need to Buy For a New Pet Rabbit – Need a new treat or toy to encourage your pet rabbit to jump up? Check out my article on some of the best things to have on-hand for your furry friend.