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Training your

Pet Rabbit

for Rabbit Hopping

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In Rabbit Hopping rabbits, on leashes, compete on a racing
course by running, jumping hurdles, and doing the long jump.
The rabbit that finishes every challenge correctly in the
shortest time is the winner. The sport began in Sweden but
is increasing in popularity all around the world.

Rabbits are naturals at hopping, of course. But hopping over
a set course, on a leash, with many cheering spectators on
each side, most certainly does not come natural to rabbits.

As you might imagine, it usually is at least a small
challenge to train a rabbit to participate. But it is not
usually as complicated as you might imagine. Some rabbits
will learn to hop a course and jump over the hurdles with
twenty to thirty minutes of training a day for three or four

First make sure that the rabbit you choose to train is
healthy and likes to jump. And it is not recommended that
you train a longhaired rabbit for hopping competitions, as
they overheat more easily.

The first step, once you have decided to train your rabbit,
is to get your bunny used to wearing a harness and walking
on a lead. You can buy special harnesses for rabbits, or a
small cat harness may work. Just be sure to use a harness
that won't choke the rabbit. Start when the rabbit is fairly
young, and be sure not to force the rabbit to do anything,
let it take the lead so it won't panic. Patience is key with

Once the rabbit is fine with hopping and running ahead of
you on a lead, and not darting left or right, let it lead
you on your walks and jump and hop as it wishes, but guide
it over different surfaces such as grass, pavement and
gravel to get it used to change.

After the rabbit is comfortable with your walks and with
running ahead of you on a lead, introduce the jumps. Start
off, especially if the rabbit is very young, with only about
five minute walks and jumps from the bar just lying on the
lawn to a bar a few inches high.

Once the rabbit understands the idea of jumping and is at
least four months old, you should make five or six jumps
made from two upright side pieces about twenty inches (fifty
centimeters) high and crossbars of PVC or electrical pipe.
Lay the jumps out on a course with at least four feet (1.2
meters) between them.

Begin your rabbit hopping training by letting the rabbit hop
up to a low jump, and if it doesn't go over naturally, put
one hand under its front legs and the other under its bottom
and lift it yourself over the bars. Once the rabbit figures
out what you want it to do, it will jump for itself,
especially if you reward it with a treat on the other side.

Don't enter competitions with your rabbit until it is at
least four months old, and if it is male, wait until it has
been neutered or you may have behavior problems at the meets
where there are many other rabbits of both genders.

Always talk to and reward your rabbit as you take your
walks, runs and jumps. You want it to be a fun game for the
rabbit. If the rabbit doesn't want to jump hurdles, you
still have a wonderful pet. Just get your pet a new friend
and see if it wants to be a hopper.

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