How to get a dwarf rabbit used to the litter box
1. Organize the litter box
Get a small litter box that is low and without a lid. You can even use a shallow container for clothes. Modify it on one side if it is too high, but I still advise against buying those triangular litter boxes for rabbits because they are too small.
For the litter to put in the box, choose the one made from recycled paper. The larger bags designed for cats are also good, but be sure to choose only the odorless pellets. Using pellets will neutralize any unpleasant urine odor. Do not buy clay-based material because it is dangerous for the respiratory system of the dwarf rabbit. Also avoid wood chips.
Only put a thin layer of pellets on the bottom of the litter box, just enough to cover everything and absorb the wetness. It is not necessary to put too much because rabbits do not bury their waste “underground” like cats do. Also, consider that when you clean the litter box, you will need to throw away all of its contents each time. If you fill the litter box with a lot of pellets, you will end up using a large amount unnecessarily.
Remember to clean the litter box frequently to encourage its use. Nobody likes it when the bathroom or dining room is dirty, right? Neither does your rabbit. In more serious cases, especially when the urine smell is stronger, use vinegar.
Dwarf rabbits love to eat hay and their feces at the same time. So, to train them to use the litter box, try to place the hay either directly in the litter box above the pellet layer or in an open container next to it. If you decide to use a box for the hay, make sure to position it in a way that the rabbit is forced to jump into the litter box to reach the hay.
2. Organize the space
It’s much easier to train your dwarf rabbit to use the litter box by initially limiting their space. Use a large fence to restrict your rabbit to one area, even if you think you’re giving them access to the whole house or some rooms (something I recommend doing).
This strategy allows your dwarf rabbit to initially acclimate to their new environment.
After your rabbit habitually uses the litter box, you can gradually increase the available space. If your dwarf rabbit starts “forgetting” to use the litter box, I recommend limiting the area again until they resume good habits.
What to do with naughty bunnies
Here are some additional tips for those mischievous little rabbits:
- If there is an accident, pick up the urine with a tissue, take a few misplaced poops and put them both in the litter box. This will help your rabbit understand that the litter box is where they should go. However, remember that rabbits are usually not entirely precise with the litter box. Sometimes they leave a little something near the box or pee beyond the corners. This is totally normal and I suggest putting a plastic mat under the litter box or positioning the litter box on a tiled floor so that it is much easier to clean up these small mistakes.
- Be patient and persistent. Getting your rabbit used to the litter box takes time, especially if they have already picked up bad habits. Also, keep in mind that it is much easier to train an adult rabbit than a young one. It will take some time to get them to form a new habit. If you see them about to do something outside the litter box (they may raise their leg), try to pick them up and put them in the litter box or in their enclosure. Of course, this is easier said than done: never risk hurting them with sudden movements!
- Try placing more than one litter box in the areas designated for your rabbit. This strategy is particularly effective if you let your rabbit roam free around the house for long periods. Start with a couple of litter boxes, using all the precautions I have already mentioned, and then gradually reduce the number.
- If your rabbit insists on going in a corner of the room, it may be easier to give in and place the litter box in that corner. Often, when a rabbit chooses the same spot to go, they are trying to tell you that is where they want the litter box to be.
- If your rabbit poops or sprays pee everywhere, it is probably because they are marking their territory. It is a good idea to neuter or spay your rabbit to calm their territorial instincts.
- Sometimes rabbits intentionally pee on the couch or bed to show you who’s boss in the house. You need to correct this behavior immediately. Read the article “My rabbit pees on the couch.”
Getting your dwarf rabbit used to the litter box requires patience and persistence. But remember, in the end, you will have a wonderful roommate to share your home with.