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Ask the vet PDSA VET IAN FLEMING ANSWERS YOUR QUESTIONS.

Q: TWO years ago we adopted Maisey, a young bunny from the RSPCA, to keep our other rabbit Parsnip company after he lost all his companions over some time. Unfortunately, Parsnip died last autumn so Maisey is left with a Guinea pig who has been here years and outlived all the bunnies.

[euro]ey are happy together but Maisey seems less condent now and often runs away when we come towards her. We don't want any more rabbits so a playmate is not an option. Maisey is our nal bunny, but we want a happy bunny. Any ideas please? Sally A: As you know, rabbits are very sociable animals and the best combination is a neutered male and a neutered female, preferably those that have been brought up together.

Guinea pigs aren't the ideal companion for rabbits, but as your two get on well together it might cause more problems if they are separated now. Many rabbit problems are triggered by fear and you might nd 'desensitisation', where Maisey is taught to associate you with a positive experience, a useful way to reassure her.

First of all, I'd think about whether anything is causing Maisey to be frightened, and make sure that doesn't happen. Spend time hand feeding her with a favourite treat - obviously not to excess. Gently start to stroke her while she is eating and gradually get her used to you once again.

Q: I HAVE just got a puppy and I'm trying to toilet train him. What is the most successful method? Brian A: e best method of training is called reward-based training, which means giving your puppy rewards like a game or a cuddle when he behaves correctly so that he will want to behave that way again - remember that food treats add to your puppy's daily calorie intake and can cause him to put on weight, so use sparingly.

To toilet train him, keep taking him outside and give him lots of praise when he goes to the toilet in the right place.

Keep repeating this, then start introducing a signal to make him understand that you want him to go to the toilet.

Always use the same words, like 'go now' and accompany that with a hand signal.

He will soon start associating the signals with the praise, which will make him want to 'go' when you indicate that's what you want. Eventually you can stop the praise and just use the signal.

Ignore any mistakes and don't punish your puppy for them as this is unkind, causes anxiety and slows learning - training should always be fun!

For more information on training, visit www.pdsa.org.uk/dogbehaviour.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Jun 7, 2014
Words:444
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