As a Cocker spaniel owner or potential owner there is a chance that your household may already have another pet or pets and one of the most common are pet rabbits.
Its widely known that Cocker spaniels are shooting dogs and a large proportion of the breed have strong hunting and chasing instincts so, if you do have pet rabbits, then it’s understandable that you’ll wonder if the two species are compatible.
A Cocker spaniel can get along with pet rabbits and, with some training, can be taught to ignore the pet bunny. That said, dogs are driven by instinct and it would not be a good idea to leave a spaniel ( or any dog ) unsupervised when rabbits are running free. Chasing is a great game for a spaniel and, if he does manage to catch your pet rabbit then it could be game over for the bunny.
What's the best way to keep rabbits with a Cocker spaniel?
The best and safest way is to make sure that your pet rabbits are kept safe and secure inside a strong hutch, cage or pen.
If you do want your Cocker and rabbit to spend time together then firstly you should always make sure that the interaction is supervised.
Cockers, and rabbits, can be playful and, providing you monitor their time together, you should have little if any problems.
If your Cocker does show signs of roughness or attempts to mouth, bite or becomes interested in the rabbit which is beyond that of play, then you should tell the dog ‘NO’ and, if needed, take him away from the rabbit.
Remember that your spaniel is a dog and, in the case of this breed, he has a strong prey instinct – if you put a rabbit in his path then that instinct may get the better of him.
Unless you are happy to supervise then it’s best ( and safest ) to keep spaniel and rabbit apart.
Can a Cocker spaniel kill a pet rabbit?
Yes. If a Cocker spaniel caught a pet rabbit then the dog is quite capable of killing it.
Also, pet rabbits tend to sit tight which makes them easier to catch, as opposed to wild rabbits that are more ‘street wise’ and leg it when disturbed.
What's the best way to introduce a Cocker spaniel to pet rabbits?
Ideally you should do this when the Cocker is a puppy, when he is still developing his social skills and will be most adaptable to learning that the rabbit is another family member and not to be harmed.
Puppies like to play and introducing the dog to the rest of the household pets while he is a youngster will help him to become familiar with the rest of the household.
In the past I’ve had Springer spaniels and pet rabbits and it was funny watching the dogs running off when the rabbits came near to them.
These same spaniels, however, would not hesitate to hunt and retrieve wild rabbits on a day’s shooting.
A Cocker spaniel living with pet rabbits is possible but only if the dog is well supervised and taught to leave the rabbit alone.
If you are not prepared for this then it’s best ( or easiest ) to keep your dogs and rabbits separate both for the safety of the rabbits and the sanity of the dog and owner.
Spaniels and rabbits can live together but, if you get the interactions wrong then it will be carnage and mayhem.