Rabbit agility, or 'show jumping', is where rabbits are trained to jump hurdles and to go up and down ramps and through tunnels, being led around courses by their owner or trainers, wearing a harness and lead. Show-jumping can be good exercise and mental stimulation for rabbits, and can even strengthen your bond with your pet through positive, reward-based training.
Show-jumping with your rabbit
You should only train your rabbit to show jump after careful consideration of whether it's in your pet's best interests. If you decide to try show-jumping with your rabbit, you'll need to make sure they're well looked after at all times.
Not all rabbits are suited to show-jumping
Many rabbits lack the temperament, build or athletic ability to participate, and unfit rabbits could injure themselves jumping. Juvenile rabbits can't participate until their bones and joints are developed and strong. Always speak with your vet before starting any agility training to ensure that your rabbit is physically fit, a suitable age and whether they would benefit from the activity.
Training your rabbit
Rabbits are intelligent, inquisitive and playful. They can be litter trained, taught various tricks (e.g. coming when called, entering their cage on cue and retrieving objects) and learn to use cat flaps.
- Only use positive reward-based methods, such as clicker training.
- Never use punishment, such as shouting or physical coercion, to train a rabbit.
- If you're an inexperienced owner, try some basic training, such as encouraging your rabbit to come when called and rewarding them with a healthy treat, and see whether your rabbit responds positively before attempting more complex activities.
You can create an agility course in your garden instead of taking your rabbit to shows. Be sure to get some expert advice on the equipment you'll need, to ensure jumps, ramps and tunnels are safe, and harnesses and leads are suitable and well-fitted.
Rabbit agility shows and competitions
Rabbit welfare is the top priority before, during and after rabbit agility events. Both you and the event organiser should think about potential welfare problems that could arise during the event and do what you can to keep your rabbit healthy, happy and stress-free throughout the event.