People who live with rabbits understand how important exercise and mental stimulation is for bunnies, and participating in activities like agility training is very rewarding for doting humans and rabbits. Not to mention good exercise and entertainment for everyone.
In fact, Alison’s training tips motivated attendees Jennifer and Krystal Kane to begin working with their magnificent and majestic New Zealand White bunny, Lucy.
Jennifer reports that she and Krystyl have taught Lucy to jump through a hula hoop - for a treat, of course. According to Jennifer, “Lucy is very food motivated. She definitely ‘connects the dots’ and understands that jumping through the hoop means an alfalfa pellet reward.”
Do the Kane’s have any other tricks up their sleeves for Lucy? Krystyl said, “Absolutely. At some point we plan to create an obstacle course for Lucy; we know she will enjoy the challenge of learning to do new things – and eating more treats, of course!” (Note: It is important that rabbits be given very small amounts of healthy treats after completing one task. For example, one alfalfa pellet, or a small piece of apple can work well.)
Off In Another SD…
Rabbit agility is popular in areas outside of San Diego. In Rapid City, South Dakota Mary Schieckoff, president of the Jubilant Jumpers Rabbit Club, hopes to bring the joys of rabbit-jumping to her community.
In a recent Rapid City Journal article Schieckoff explained that rabbit-jumping has been popular since the 1970s in Europe, and involves rabbits hopping over hurdles and running through agility courses.
“It’s an extremely popular sport in Denmark, Sweden and Norway,” said Schieckoff. She added, “rabbit-jumping is an inexpensive sport that even very young children can compete in, and the exercise and socialization is great for the rabbits.” The world-record holder for rabbit jumping is a Danish rabbit that jumped a height of 39 inches and a length of 10 feet.
“Basically, it’s like a horse-jumping event but on a smaller scale,” she said. “Certain breeds, like the tans, Dutch, English spot and Belgian hares, all make excellent jumpers but any rabbit can learn agility skills.”
Like Alison Giese, and the Kane’s, Schieckoff believes that treats motivate: “They learn fast. The last time we met for training, it only took about a day.”
Since my bunnies have already taught me to jump through hoops for them, I think I’ll wander over to my nearest Hula Hoop store (where does one buy a Hula Hoop these days?), grab some yummy pellets, and see if I can get my beloved rabbits to jump through hoops for me! Afterall, turnabout is fair play.
Oh..one more thing. If you want a Friday afternoon smile check out this adorable video of two rabbits doing an agility course:
(NOTE: http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/RabbitHoppingUSA-Agility/ is a Yahoo group dedicated to rabbit agility).