Aileen Kara Hudspeth: Hi, my name is Aileen Kara Hudspeth with Friends of Rabbits. I am here talking about how to care for your rabbit and we are going to discuss relaxing your rabbit. Now I have a willing participant in front of me. But you may find some dismay in getting your own rabbit to be so willing, but be patient. This takes time and it takes a lot of practice. First, consult with your veterinarian to make sure that your rabbit is in good health to be getting any type of physical massage or relaxation techniques. You want to make sure that they are in good health, they don't have have any problems because you don't want to cause any pain while you are doing this. What you want to do is you want to sit on a chair that you are comfortable with and you are going to split your legs, wear something you are comfortable with, jeans, you may get scratched so you may want to wear something that is not short sleeves. What you are going to want to do is you are going to put your rabbit on your lap, spread your legs little bit, tuck your rabbit down, put your hands under the front two paws, kick the paws out a little bit and you may have some first resistance. Now the key is to be firm, but not be too strong. You want to show the rabbit that you are in control and that you are comfortable with what you are doing because if you feel at all uneasy, the rabbit will know and they will be able to kick.
What you want to do is you want to take your hands along the back and you are going to start working up to the top, between where the ears are, nice, gentle pressure, you are using your pads or your fingers, you are not using your nails. If you are concerned about using your nails, trim them ahead of time. That will make it really easy. So what you are going to do is you are going to use your pads and eventually, as you do this you are going to be warming up your hands. You are going to feel that warmth being pushed into the rabbit. You should be able to feel all the skin which is another good reason because when you are going over this, this helps you to get in more contact with your rabbit's health by being able to check their skin. I am going to take my hands down along the side, just put my hands, forefingers under here, my thumb is on top, I am going to roll my hands along those legs and kick those legs out.
Now this kind of position you may find your rabbit in at home, these legs kicked out, front paw is straight, that's a relaxed pose. So this is in a pose that we are putting them in that they have never been in before. This is a relaxed pose for them and what it does is it gives you the opportunity to get access to that space above the tail that may need to be groomed, extra hair likes to sit there that you can't get when you are normally grooming. So what you are going to do is pull those haunches up and roll your fingers gently along the skin. You are going to feel some muscles there, you are going to feel some jerking possibly with their legs when you are doing this. You just want to be firm. I have my fingers around their legs, but I am not squeezing. I have only got it between where their leg connects their body and I can roll my hands down here, I can feel the muscles here along the upper haunches, I can feel lower right were their knees bend and I can actually twist them around a little bit if I needed to. This is actually very willing rabbit. Yours may not be able to get in this position immediately. So let's say your rabbit is not cooperating and you still want to try just that technique, you can turn your rabbit around to face you and you can still kick the feet out the same way and work it without having those feet facing you if you are having problems with them being flexible with that. After you have gotten your rabbit relaxed what you can do is take them from that relaxed position on their stomach and what you are going to do is, tuck your hand under, put your hand on the back. You are going to flip like a pancake. Take those ears back and you are going to tuck their face between your knees, but you are not going to squeeze. You are like a firm grip, just enough that they just settle between your legs and the towel. What you are going to do is you are going to start working your way down the stomach. The important part here is you don't want to press too much. You can see that the arms are starting to go together, it's because there is a nerve there and as I get close to that nerve there is the tendency for the rabbit to pull his arms together.
So what you will find is as you worked with massage you should start to see the muscles loosen, you are going to probably feel some tightness, you may actually feel some spasms and what you are going to do is you are going to work that heat in your fingers. You are going to work it around, you are going to work small little circles in their legs here and I can actually hold this leg up, if he will let me. I can hold this leg up, stretch the foot out by just rolling my hand along the leg here, kick that leg out, feet are going to stretch out, he get nails, if I hadn't gotten these nails trimmed before, I can get them now. Get those legs stretched out. I am going to get right here under the haunches where I was before, but I can work some of the other muscles, the smaller ones close to where the lower leg is. I am going to work my heat in to there, I can go back up here to the top, bring a little bit of the pressure here, very light, just enough where I am feeling along the organs along the chest cavity, nice and tight soft movements. You don't want to do anything jerky, you don't want to immediately just throw your hand down the stomach. They are going to expect consistent pressure and consistent movements and you want to make sure that you continue that. A relaxed rabbit is really a happy rabbit because this is part of having a good relationship with your rabbit is being in touch. This shows your rabbit that you are not just there for food and water, but that you truly are providing another pleasant experience which maybe they will be more likely to come up on your lap and sit with you. So these are some great tips on how to care for your rabbit. Thank you for watching.