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How to Protect Furniture from Pet Rabbits' Chewing: Keep Bunnies from Chewing Furniture Corners
Rabbits make excellent house pets and are very relaxing creatures to have around. When properly socialized, rabbits are very easy to litter box train, they're very quiet and clean, and when given room to roam are generally very docile and non-destructive. While this puts rabbits above even cats and dogs in some considerations, there are some issues that have to be addressed with rabbits. One of the main problems pet owners have with their rabbits being loose in the house is that, wherever they are, rabbits love to chew. Rabbits will happily chow down on upholstery, table legs, the corners of cabinets, and even wallpaper. We're going to focus specifically on some strategies for protecting your furniture from your rabbit's natural tendencies.
The first step is to make sure all of your rabbit's basic needs are met. Specifically, if the rabbit is bored, hungry, or distressed for any reason then they are much more likely to chew. Make sure there is plenty of stuff available that the rabbit is allowed to chew on, and that they have their own personal space that they can go to in case they're feeling stressed. Their personal area should include their food, water, an area for them to go to the bathroom, a bed, and anything else they may need. For most owners, this personal space is a cage or large carrier that is left open most of the time but that the rabbit can be put in at night and/or when the humans are gone.
Next, rabbits do respond to repetitious training. Care must be taken when attempting to teach them what they can and can not chew on because rabbits are naturally timid, flighty creatures so the kind of training you'd use for cats and dogs doesn't work as well for rabbits. For the most part, simple redirection is about all you can do. When you find the rabbit chewing on furniture, take it away and direct it to something it CAN chew on, preferably something within its "personal area" so it gets the idea that that's the place for chewing.
So we've covered ways to help eventually break the habit of chewing on furniture, but what about protecting it in the meantime? Rabbits are curious creatures, and even with the best of training may occasionally decide to give something a "tooth test" just to get a better idea of what it is. For this, a number of methods have been used.
Many people choose to use a bitter ointment or juice to keep the rabbits from chewing. This can be the kind of ointment that's put on dogs to keep them from licking their wounds, juice from a grapefruit peel, cod liver oil, and so on. These generally work very well for keeping the rabbits from chewing, but can cause staining on some surfaces. Additionally, smooth surfaces such as polished wood will need regular re-application of the ointment.
Next, a commercial "stay off" product can be used to keep the rabbit away from the furniture entirely. Make sure that whatever product you buy is approved for use inside the house, as many products are for strictly outdoor use and are for keeping wild rabbits out of gardens and flower beds.
Protective sleeves or plates may also be used to keep the rabbit from damaging furniture, corners, and low areas in the wall. These are generally a thick, smooth plastic that can be glued, tacked, or stuck in place with a temporary adhesive. A rabbit may still chew on these, but the plates are much easier to replace than the furniture and can prevent permanent damage.
Preventative work is always the best. If possible, isolate the rabbit to a part of the house where it can not do any damage while you're out of the house. This not only protects the rabbit from getting itself hurt while no one is around, but also allows you to reinforce appropriate chewing habits at all times that the rabbit is exposed to the off-limits furniture.
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