I remember the first time when I brought home Bambi (my Dutch rabbit). As I lured her out of her carrier, I wanted to pet her but did not know what to do!
Where should I pet?
Would she like it?
Hope she does not bite me.
These were some of the thoughts going through my mind as I fumbled clumsily trying to pet her head and back.
So where do rabbits like to be petted?
After thorough research and experiences with my rabbit. Here is a compilation of ideas that may help you grow closer to your rabbit.
The four generally accept parts
I would usually let Bambi approach me before I pet. This is a confirmation that she is at least interested in me (and possibly wants to be petted!). I would start by stroking her back and only continue if she lays down (a sign that she does not mind being petted.). I would stop if she gets up and moves away. (Usually, I would get tired and stop before this. Some rabbits love to be petted for a long time. Others, not so much. Each rabbit is unique.)
Below are general guidelines on how I pet my Dutch. Feel free to leave comments down below on how you pet your rabbit. We could trade tips.
Stroking the Forehead
Using the tips of your fingers, slowly and gently massage the area around the forehead in between the eyes. Be careful not to poke those eyes!
Massaging the Cheeks
With the tips of your fingers, slowly and gently massage the cheekbones under the eyes (in a circular motion). Again, watch those precious eyes.
Massaging the Ears
Gently clip one of your rabbit’s ears in between the tips of your fingers and ever so gently stroke down the length of the ears. Be careful again here, to massage near the tips of the ears and not deep inside.
Stroking the Back
With the palm of your hand and fingers stroke down the length of your rabbit’s back. Much like how you would stroke a person’s back to calm them.
Where Not to Disturb. (“Hands Off!”)
If your rabbit shies and moves away from you – NO.
If your rabbit stays still or asks for more – YES.
If it is not enough or if you really want to spoil your rabbit. Go ahead and give them a treat after you have petted them. This provides positive reinforcement. Just as how you would train any animal.