Socializing Your Pet Rabbit
Rabbits are just like humans: each has his or her own personality. Unfortunately, there are times when a rabbit's personality is hidden by her past. A rabbit who has been adopted may be very aggressive, for example, grunting and boxing at you whenever you get too close.
She may be aggressive because she was abused or abandoned, or she may be aggressive because that's part of her personality. In such a situation, don't get angry at your rabbit. Rather, understand that it is going to take time for her to trust you.
Even if you have a mellow bunny, you'll likely find it's going to take time to gain her trust. Don't expect too much too soon. Gaining a house rabbit's trust – especially if she is skittish or aggressive – is going to take time and a lot of effort on your part. But, the hard work will ultimately pay off and allow you to enjoy a happy relationship with your rabbit.
Spend time with your rabbit – on her level
The best way to gain your rabbit's trust, and to get to know her, is to spend time with her on her level. Get down on the floor and let her come to you. Rather than trying to get your rabbit's attention, ignore her by doing something else, like clipping coupons or watching TV.
Even if she's hesitant at first, your rabbit will likely hop over to you and tentatively check you out by sniffing you and even walking on you, if you're lying down. Keep ignoring your rabbit as she investigates you.
If you try to pet her too soon, she'll likely become apprehensive and hop away. Also, keep in mind that most rabbits don't like being picked up and held, so don't try to pick her up when she's checking you out.
Understand your rabbit's language
Rabbits have their own means of communication, both verbal and non-verbal. Some rabbits will grunt or growl, which could mean "Get out of my space," or "I want to play." (The one sound you never want to hear from your rabbit is a scream. A rabbit generally only screams when she is terrified, or when she is in excruciating pain.)
Should your rabbit come up to you and nibble on your hair, she's showing affection. Nibbling your hair is akin to grooming another rabbit. If your bunny licks you, something all bunny owners want to experience, she's just telling you how much she loves you. Understanding your rabbit's language is an important step to gaining her trust.
Feed your rabbit by hand
Every day when you give your rabbit her greens and a treat (a carrot or a slice of banana), feed them to her by hand. Feeding your rabbit by hand is an excellent way to get her to trust you; again, realize that it might take time. But, don't be surprised if a few months down the line, your rabbit comes running every time she hears the refrigerator door open
Never yell at or hit your rabbit
Yelling at or hitting your rabbit is only going to do one thing: make her afraid of you, and that's the last thing you want. If your rabbit growls and lunges at you, for example, when you try to pet her, she may be frightened. Rather than yelling at her, simply get down to her level and let her come to you.
Hitting a rabbit is never a good idea. In addition to frightening her, she won't understand why you're hitting her. Bunnies are delicate animals, and you could very well injure her if you hit her.
Adopt a friend
Rabbits are, by their very nature, sociable animals, and many do quite well with a companion. If you spend a considerable amount of time away from home each day, consider adopting a friend for your rabbit. (Or if you haven't yet adopted a rabbit, consider adopting an already bonded pair.)
If you decide to adopt a friend for your rabbit, take her to your local animal shelter or rabbit rescue where she'll go on "dates" to find a compatible friend. Again, whether a friend is a good idea for your rabbit comes down to her personality. There are some rabbits who simply do better as only bunnies.