Unedited Training Thoughts from TRH Hopping Owner & Founder
It is now the beginning of March and we have yet to see any sign of spring. This time of year when in many areas across the US are covered with snow, ice, or soaked with rain it can be hard to keep up with training our hopping rabbits. Many of us don't have a big indoor space to train and exercise our rabbits, and this can be frustrating for many hopping handlers that don't want this winter downtime to go to waste. But today I'm going to give you some tips and tricks that I personally use in my own hopping training practices to keep those winter blues away and my hoppers hopping.
Training space. It is one of the biggest problems most adults *and youth* have when training hopping rabbits. It's hard to find space to put down our mats and store our jumps, and when we do find space it usually ends up in a inconvenient spot like a hallway or an awkward hopping course running right through a kitchen. But there are ways around this, and sometimes the issue of space can be solved simply by planning. If you are limited in space, say you may only have room for six or eight mats and one or maybe two jumps if you're lucky, there are still ways to use that small space to make it an effective space for training. What I like to do with a small space is try to make the best use of one or two jumps I have room for. Sometimes this looks like two jumps placed pretty close together, like a chute, to challenge my rabbits to really think about where they are taking off and landing a jump. This exercise is probably something your rabbit isn't very used to, and is a great and simple way to make more use of a smaller space. Now you don't want to make your rabbit jump such short distances all the time, but it is a great exercise to use once in a while to mix up the routine.
Training in the snow? This might be a strange idea to throw out there as a training tip, but in some cases taking your hopper out for a very short snow run is a great way to mix things up. Keep in mind that if it is extremely cold out, windy, or just brutal winter weather where you live then this idea will not work for you. However if it is decent outside and there is an area in your yard (fenced preferred) where the snow isn't more than an inch or two deep and no ice is present, then this can be a fun activity for you and your rabbit. One of my favorite thing to do in the winter time with my little sister Lauren (2018 PaSRBA Queen), was to build little snow forts for our rabbits. We would have a huge pile of snow from plowing and dig tunnels and little bedded areas we would then fill with hay, and the rabbits loved it. Of course we wouldn't keep them outside for too long, because rabbits although they enjoy the cold weather over hot weather they can still catch a cold. Later on after I had been well into rabbit hopping, I adjusted the design my sister and I had created to include little snow jumps and banks for rabbits to navigate. It was really fun! So if the weather cooperates where you live, maybe give this idea a go.
Trick Training. Now this idea might be new to some of my hopping people out there, but trick training is an awesome way to spice things up with your rabbit. Sometimes the easiest way to trick train a rabbit is with the use of a clicker and treats, and I have successfully trained several of my rabbits *including the TRH Hopping logo rabbit, Petie* with this technique. This is a broad topic though, but I definitely might write a whole post just on this. So for now, look around online for ideas on trick training and treats that are appropriate for rabbits. There are lots of great resources out there! One huge benefit of this, is that you really don't need a ton of space to try trick training your rabbit. Hopping rabbits are athletes, and enjoy a challenge like learning a new jump or in this case a trick. Just be careful with giving treats, in hopping competitions clickers and treats are prohibited so don't teach your rabbit to rely on them for hopping jumps. Trick training with treats can also cause some rabbits to become nippy or even food aggressive, so use your own judgement on whether your rabbit will be a good candidate for this technique. After all, you know your rabbit best.
Spring is only a month or so away so hang in there hoppers! I hope these tips can help you overcome the winter blues with your hopper, and as always leave comments and suggestions below for the next post. Thank you for stopping by!