Skip to main content

How to know if your rabbit loves you

Bonding with a pet who loves you is one of the joys of life, no matter the species. For some, though, it can be challenging to tell whether your pet is showing affection, especially for owners of animals whose body language isn’t as widely known. You’ll know a happy dog from its relaxed stance and wagging tail — but how do you decode a bunny’s body language?

If you’ve ever wondered, “How do rabbits show affection?” read on to find your answers. Like most small mammals commonly kept as pets, rabbits are able and often eager to bond with their people. In fact, rabbits are known to get bored and even depressed from a lack of social interaction (via Indiana House Rabbit Society), though this interaction will look a bit different than that of a cat or dog. You might be surprised to know what subtle behaviors are really signs of love.


Many rabbit owners ask themselves whether rabbits like to be cuddled, but the answer will vary from pet to pet. It will also depend on how you define cuddling! For most rabbits, it’s uncomfortable and distressing to feel restrained by hands or arms, even those of the people who feed them. “Feeling restrained is very challenging for a prey species whose main coping strategy is to run away from potential threats,” explains Rosie Bescoby, animal behaviorist. “That’s why our normal tactile signs of affection can sometimes backfire.”

If your rabbit somehow does enjoy being swaddled or snuggled, consider yourself lucky! When you hold him, make sure to support both his front and hindquarters to avoid injury or stress to either of you (but mostly the bunny). If your fuzzy friend doesn’t like to be cuddled, however, don’t fret. There are many other ways to bond with your animal, and several subtle ways bunnies can show you affection without a full-on hug.

a girl with long hair holds a white rabbit to her chest


If you’re really, truly blessed, you’ll get to witness a bunny binky. Binkying is a little flip or hop for joy in which the rabbit twists around in the air before landing. They might binky once while running or several times repeatedly. This is a sign of happiness and comfort — a rabbit won’t binky when they feel vulnerable. Some bunnies just don’t binky at all, which isn’t a sign of anything negative. Sometimes rabbits who roam free won’t feel energy bursts quite as significantly as one who’s been in their hutch all night.


Here’s one behavior that may not look as obvious as the others. As if rabbits couldn’t get any cuter, they often place or rub their chin on others they love (via Kaytee). Think of it like a cat rubbing against your leg; it’s a way to claim you as theirs — by getting their scent on you, that is! Rabbits have scent glands located on their chin, but it’s totally OK if you’d rather just pretend they’re cuddling.


Nope, your rabbit isn’t licking you for the salt of your skin (though a salt and mineral lick will benefit both his diet and his teeth). Licking is a bunny’s way of grooming, whether they’re focused on themselves, another rabbit, or a person. Rabbits tend to groom only those they’re bonded with, so consider yourself honored if your pet starts to lick. Sometimes, licking will be just as much of a request as it is a sign of affection. Odds are, they’d like a little love back!

If your bunny really gets going, you might even get a little love nip, though he doesn’t intend to hurt you with a bite (via Rabbit Source). It’s just another — albeit painful — way of grooming you.

a brown and white rabbit stands in the grass with sunlight on its ears


A rabbit who is flopped out on the ground is truly, wholly relaxed. While it may not be a display of affection, it certainly is a way to let you know that he feels safe and content around you (via PetPlan). In the wild, bunnies use running as their main form of defense, which means, as a prey species, they’re often on high alert. A rabbit who’s lying down isn’t poised to run, or even on the lookout for danger.

Still, don’t take advantage of your bunny’s relaxation. To encourage the trust required for your bunny to flop in your presence, don’t break his trance! If he’s not in the mood, your rabbit might even find petting to be a bother, so experts recommend just sitting near him to show him you’ll respect his space.

Do you have a happy bunny on your hands? From chinning to flopping, there are so many ways to tell. Watching for body language like this is a great way to gauge your relationship with your rabbit from moment to moment. Plus, how cute is it to know your bunny is happy and asking for some affection? As subtle as his signs may be, it’s gratifying to know that your rabbit feels safe enough with you to show some of these behaviors. That’s how you’ll know he loves you.

Editors' Recommendations

Gabrielle LaFrank
Gabrielle LaFrank has written for sites such as Psych2Go, Elite Daily, and, currently, PawTracks. When she's not writing, you…
4 reasons why your dog might need a diaper (and which kind you should get)
When considering dog diapers, you need to think first about their purpose
Dog gets a green reusable diaper

Most dog owners luckily never need to reach for the diaper bag — we potty train our puppies and often enjoy the results for their whole lives. However, there are a few reasons why you might need to invest in dog diapers. Some of these are passing conditions, but as your pet ages, you may find that dog diapers become a part of your routine. It sounds a bit unpleasant, but with a little help, you can tackle it.
Why might my pet need them?
While most dogs will hopefully never have to wear any, they could wind up in doggie depends, temporarily or for life. Some pet parents use diapers when they know they won't be able to let their animal out to potty -- on a long plane ride for example. That's a good time for a one-off. Here are a few reasons you might need to stock your drawers with dog diapers.
They've gotten older
As pets age, sometimes incontinence sets in (and it could happen to you, too). This comes from the muscles of the bladder getting weaker and not performing as well, meaning a little bit of pee leaks through. It's much more common in female dogs, but can happen to any pooch.
She's in heat
Not totally unlike when a human has monthly bleeding, you might spot a bit of bloody discharge from a female dog in heat (fortunately, it doesn't happen as often, only a couple times per year). She also may urinate more frequently or even scent mark during this time.
He needs to be fixed
Before neutering, male dogs often mark, sometimes almost constantly, particularly if they can smell a female dog in heat nearby. If you're choosing not to neuter, you'll have to use a belly band a lot, though sometimes dogs can be trained out of this behavior with time and dedication.
They have a health condition
If your animal suddenly starts losing control of their wee, it's likely something simple, such as a urinary tract infection. Some long-term conditions like Cushing's disease, diabetes, and kidney problems could also be the issue. Work with your pet care team to ensure that a diaper won't interfere with topical medication or spread bacteria.

What kind of diaper should I get?
There are a few different kinds out there, depending on exactly what issue you're working on with your pet. Many male dogs, especially if they are really just scent marking, will require a . Female dogs in heat likely require a , but don't worry, there's a little hole for the tail. Do a bit of research including buying one kind and seeing if it works. Try to be as sustainable as possible and purchase cloth options that can go straight into the wash when possible.

Read more
Looking for a fluffy and affectionate pup? Give the American Eskimo dog a try
Considering a spitz? Take a look at the American Eskimo dog
American Eskimo dog smiling at the camera

At first glance, you might confuse an American Eskimo dog with a shih tzu or even a Pomeranian. Or you might mix them up with the Canadian Eskimo dog, a 4,000-year-old animal that's native to America and was bred by the Inuit to pull sleds. But the American Eskimo dog (or Eskie) is a totally separate breed that's both beautiful and family-friendly. While no dog is right for everyone, you should consider this beastie if you want a unique and lovable pup. They might be exactly what your home needs to become complete.
Where does the American Eskimo dog come from?
Don't be fooled by the name, this pup came about in the 1800s and was bred by German immigrants as a farm dog. That means it's one of many spitz dogs, which also includes the malamute, Icelandic sheepdog, and Samoyed. The name was changed because of anti-German sentiments around World War I. Interestingly, this was a very popular show dog, and many performed in the circus and on stage! If you do wind up adopting an Eskie, you could get a regular old diva.
What is this breed like?
These fluffy friends can stay as small as 6 pounds in the toy size or up to 35 pounds, which can be standard, but they all have huge personalities regardless of stature. Because the American Eskimo dog was a working breed, they need a lot more exercise than you'd think just by looking. But they're highly trainable, loving toward people, and very energetic, so you should have no problem taking them on walks and to outdoor gatherings. If your routine already includes hikes or even strolls, the American Eskimo dog might be your perfect companion.

Who should get an Eskie?
This is a family dog through and through. Eskies require a lot of interaction and love — they sometimes misbehave if not given enough attention, which could include chewing up your favorite furniture or barking incessantly at seemingly nothing. That means you want to think carefully before committing to them, as you would with any pup.

Read more
Homemade dog food: Should you do it?
Homemade dog food: Yay or nay? Vets weigh in and you might be surprised what they said
Large white Labrador eating out of a metal bowl

You’ve probably heard guidance to eat home-cooked meals — for humans. They generally have less salt, and you know the ingredients in each. You’ve probably also heard of cutting down on processed food.

As dog people, we love our furry friends and want what’s best for them. Some foods, like blueberries and bananas, are safe to feed in moderation. However, should you be home cooking your dog’s food? After all, nothing appears more processed than a tiny piece of kibble that’s apparently processed — gasp! — with all the nutrition your pet needs.

Read more