Are Golden Retrievers Good with Rabbits and How to Introduce Them in 10 Steps


Golden Retrievers make for wonderful companions, and for those who want to have a couple or more pets at home, they are the perfect pets to get.

They are gentle, friendly, and lack any of the predatory instincts that other animals have.

But you are asking about Rabbit in particular, right?

So, are golden retrievers good with rabbits? Yes, Golden Retrievers are good with rabbits because they are gentle, patient, and friendly. Goldens are very unlikely to be aggressive towards rabbits and they won’t try to hunt or herd them. You Just need to introduce them properly and supervise them until they’re familiar with each other.

So, yes, whether you have a rabbit and want to get a golden retriever or you have a golden and want to get a rabbit, you can go ahead and do it, and in this article, I’m going to tell you exactly how to introduce them to each other and make sure they get familiar. So, keep reading…

Why Are Golden Retrievers Good with Rabbits?

golden retriever puppy with a rabbit to illustrate are golden retrievers good with rabbits

Golden Retrievers are easily the best dogs with rabbits. And here are some of the reasons why Goldens are the perfect choice;

  • They are gentle
  • They are affectionate
  • They are very patient
  • They are obedient
  • They lack predatory instincts
  • They won’t try to herd them
  • They are companion animals

Let’s talk very quickly about each of these factors and how they contribute in making golden retrievers the perfect dogs for households with multiple pets – including rabbits:

Goldens are Gentle

Golden Retrievers are very gentle animals. They have been bred to retriever game peacefully, so they are instinctively careful not to harm, play too roughly or too aggressively with any other animals.

This means that goldens are instinctively gentler with smaller pets than other dogs would be.

They are affectionate

Golden Retrievers are very affectionate dogs that like to snuggle, cuddle, and have a good time. They are friendly and loving by nature, and they have a cheerful outlook on life and want to care for others instead of hunt them, control them, or herd them.

They are very patient

Golden Retrievers are very patient, which is crucial in the case of rabbits. Rabbits are known to have sudden bursts of energy where they will just become hyper active, and it can be very surprising and bothersome to some dogs.

Goldens are patient and even-tempered enough to put up with these sudden bursts of energy and the somettimes-erratic behavior of rabbits.

They are obedient

A well-trained golden retriever that has been socialized at a young age is the most obedient dog you can get. That’s because golden retrievers are a very rare mix between smart and eager to please.

Why is this rare? Take cats, for example. Cats are very smart, but they just don’t care about pleasing their owners.

Some dogs like Huskies, are also incredibly smart, but their intelligence also makes them more stubborn and independent, but golden retrievers are eager to please their owners by nature, which means they will follow your instructions and training to the tee.

They lack predatory instincts

Dogs are hunters by nature, which is something most people forget. Even domesticated dogs still have some predatory instincts, which is why some dogs will run off chasing squirrels, cats, or other small animals when they see them. They won’t necessarily kill them, but they will still chase them instinctively.

Goldens have very weak predatory instincts and some goldens have none at all. This is one of the many reasons why goldens can coexist peacefully with other pets in the same household.

This is one of the main reasons that goldens can get along very well with cats as well.

They won’t try to herd them

Golden Retrievers were not meant to be farm dogs, so they don’t have this instinct to herd other animals around as some other dogs, like collies or German Shepherds, have for example.

This herding instincts can be too strong in other dogs to the point where the smaller pet becomes just exhausted from being herd around all day, but golden retrievers are almost never like that.

They are companion Animals

Golden Retrievers act more as companions rather than pets. They are eager to please and just want everyone to get alone. They are friendly, patient, and gentle.

They are also rather accepting of other animals in the house and don’t really get bothered by it.

Yes, golden retrievers can get jealous sometimes, but it never reaches the point where it’s a serious problem that you should worry about it too much, and as long as you show them you still love them, they are going to be fine.

Now that you know why golden retrievers are good with rabbits, it’s time to see how you can actually introduce them to each other and help them get familiar and even be friends in not time.

10 Easy Steps introduce your rabbit and dog to each other

This method explained below works whether the dog or the rabbit is the new animal in the house, and it also works if they are both newly adopted, but I don’t recommend getting both together as this can mean a lot of work.

Here are the 10 steps to make the introduction:

  1. Choose the space
  2. Make a safe first meeting (secure both animals)
  3. Make the introduction
  4. Let them get familiar
  5. Reward them
  6. Bring them closer
  7. Supervise them
  8. Keep the sessions short
  9. Feed them in different spots
  10. Repeat the process & be patient

Let me explain each step in a bit more detail:

Choose the space

Choose a neutral, common space where you can control both animals in the first introductions and supervise them later. It’s better if this is a common area like the living room or the backyard.

Avoid places or rooms where either animal usually spends their time, eats, or sleeps as they may be a bit more territorial of these spaces. Goldens are not usually territorial, but some of them can be, so it’s better to be safe.

The place should be comfortable not only for your pets but for you as well. You want to be as relaxed as possible because they, and specially the dog, can pick up on your stress.

Make a safe first meeting

The first meeting between both animals should be a very safe and controlled one. Even if you have the most obedient dog ever, they still need to be leashed during the first introduction.

You should also put the rabbit in a safe space so they feel protected and can’t run away. A good travel cage is recommended for the rabbit.

You ca also always ask for a friend’s help during the first meeting to have an extra set of hands and eyes which can be very useful. You can have the friend hold the rabbit while you get the dog.

For the introduction itself. Put them close together and introduce them slowly to each other. You should put one Animal in the room first and then get the other one.

Let them get familiar

Dogs learn about the world through their noses, and rabbits do the same to a certain degree. You should make the first introduction a slow one and give them as much time as they need to learn about each other.

The dog will usually start sniffing around as they get closer to the rabbit to explore them and get to know them. It’s important to keep a good eye on the body language of both animals to make sure they are both comfortable with what’s going on.

Reward them

Reward them for being good with each other. Ask your dog to be gentle and praise them when they are verbally by saying “good boy” as they act slowly and quietly around the rabbit.

You should keep your tone and general body language authoritative but gentle. You should keep a good eye on how they react to your commands and words, and make sure that both of them respond to your words.

Bring them closer

You should start removing the barrier and distance between both animals slowly. In most cases, the rabbit will slowly start to approach the dog and the dog will usually stay calm and curious as they’re intrigued.

Some dogs may be triggered to chase the small rabbit, but that’s unlikely with golden retrievers, yet still, you should keep a good eye on the dog’s body language and keep a firm hand on their leash.

Supervise Them

You should keep a very close eye on the body language of both animals.

Watch out if the dog gets too excited: Some signs that the dog is getting too excited include fast tail wagging, fast ear movements, and heavy breathing.

If the dog gets too excited, try to calm them down by asking them to sit and stay for 5 – 10 minutes until they’re calm again.

Watch out if the rabbit is getting scared: Some signs that the rabbit is getting scared can include heavy breathing, kicking, and trying to escape. The rabbit may also try to play dead by sitting in a hunkered down position.

The rabbit may also stop moving and become rigid as they look intensely as the dog, which means that they’re too frightened to move.

If you see any of these signs, remove the dog from the room, give them both a chance to calm down, and then try again.

Keep the sessions short

Long exposures can make either or both of them a bit too excited, which is not something we want. Too much excitement can lead to accidental harm, which can leave a mark in both animals.

It’s recommended to keep the sessions very short at the beginning, and you can start with 15-minute sessions and then increase the duration of each session after that by 5 minutes.

You should also always end the session when either animal shows any signs of stress or fear.

Feed them in different spots

Even the gentlest animals can be territorial and even aggressive comes feeding time. You should feed them both at different spots or different times, and both together are recommended.

You should also keep them away from the sleeping places of each other as this is another place where animals tend to be overly territorial.

Repeat the process and be patient.

The introduction process can take time. It’s okay if it takes days or weeks for both animals to get familiar with each other, as long as you’re making process with each introduction session.

This is always the key to living with pets. To be patient and repeat. The good news is that goldens are pretty smart and don’t need a lot of repetitions to learn what you need them to do, so it should be easier with them than with other dogs to get them familiar with a rabbit.

This is basically everything you need to know about golden retrievers and rabbits, and you are now ready to live with both under the same roof. If you like the post and found it useful, consider sharing it using the share and pin buttons at the end of the post. I’ll definitely appreciate it ♥️

Related Questions

Are Labrador Retrievers Good with Rabbits?

Yes, Labrador Retrievers are good with rabbits. Labradors are easy-going, friendly, and loving dogs that get along well with other pets in the same household. Make sure to make proper introductions and give them time and they will be excellent with your rabbits.

Will Golden Retrievers Kill Rabbits?

No, Golden Retrievers will not kill rabbits. Goldens do not have a prey drive that makes them kill chase or kill smaller animals, and they are one of the best dog breeds to get along with rabbits because of their cheerful and loving personality.

However, introducing them right is still crucial, and you should always supervise your dog around any small animal.

Useful Resources

Genetic analysis of results of a Swedish behavior test on German Shepherd Dogs and Labrador Retrievers Journal of Animal Science, Volume 86, Issue 11, November 2008, Pages 2853–2861, https://doi.org/10.2527/jas.2007-0616

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