Anytime I post a picture or video of P&B on my bed, believe me when I say my DM's get flooded with the question "Do they not pee/poop on your bed?!?" I'm grateful to say my answer to that question is nope - not anymore! While this is the case for me now, my buns have definitely had a few accidents on my bed before we reached this stage, so don't worry - there's still hope!
Below I've shared some of my main tips and tricks on how to discourage your rabbit from peeing/pooping on your bed.
But first, it's important to understand why your bunny pees/poops on your bed, and in some cases, only on your bed and not anywhere else in your home.
If your bunny is free-roam and litter trained, it's very likely that they had a few accidents around your home before they started to use their litter box religiously. This is because buns like to mark their territory, and if a space smells unfamiliar, they claim this space by 'marking' it - i.e. leaving their scent in the form of their pee and poop. Over time, as your bun spends more time in a space, it smells more and more like them, and their desire to mark this space thus decreases. However, the majority of the time, beds tend to be out of reach for most rabbits, and naturally smell very unfamiliar to them. When you suddenly give your rabbits access to your bed, or they jump up there themselves, they are exposed to a large area that smells very much like you, rather than them. As a result, they get the desire to mark their territory, and claim your bed, as they have the rest of your home😅.
So how do you discourage this behaviour?
While there are a number of things you can do to discourage your bunny from leaving you a present on your bed, if you don't start with the basics such as litter training and getting your bunny fixed, all the other steps become basically pointless.
If you haven't already perfected litter training, it's very unlikely you'll be able to stop any accidents from happening on your bed, as even very well litter trained bunnies enjoy marking beds and other soft furnishings on occasions. You can read more about how to litter train your bunny here.
Get your bunny Spayed/Neutered
Even with a litter trained bunny, if your rabbit isn't fixed it's likely that you will still have issues with both pee and poop on your bed. This is because un-fixed rabbits tend to be much more territorial and like to mark. Getting your bunny fixed is probably the most important first step you need to take, not just for your bed, but for improving litter habits in general. Often people with young un-fixed bunnies message me asking how they can stop their bunnies peeing/pooping on their bed. My honest answer tends to be: prevent your bunny from accessing your bed until they've been fixed as it can be very tough to prevent 100% while a bunny is unfixed. Moreover, take away soft furnishings and pet beds etc until they are fixed to prevent them from getting soiled early on.
After your bunny is fixed/litter-trained:
Clean up accidents immediately
As you may have already learnt with litter training - cleaning up accidents as soon as possible avoids encouraging your rabbit to go to the toilet there again. The same applies with your bed and or other soft furnishings. If your bunny has an accident on your bed - the key is to place poops into their litter box and to wash the sheet/cover etc ASAP. Otherwise, your bunny will get used to the scent being there and is likely to go there again.
Get a waterproof mattress protector
While poops are a lot less messy and much easier to clean, bunny pee on the other hand can be a lot more problematic to deal with. It can get really frustrating if your bunny pees on your bed every time you've put down some fresh sheets or a new duvet cover and can also mean a lot of laundry. One reason this may be happening is because the scent of your bunnies urine is going into your mattress and therefore lingering, even after you've changed the sheets. Even though you can spot clean, this is unlikely to completely eradicate the smell that has seeped into the mattress. Therefore, I'd really recommend investing in a waterproof mattress protector early on to prevent this from being an issue.
Place a protective layer on your bed
If you have a young and un-fixed bunny or a fixed bunny with a stubborn habit of peeing on your bed and you cant easily prevent them from accessing your bed, one thing I'd recommend is to leave some kind of sheet over your bed that will act as a protective layer. A good option is a waterproof shower curtain, which you should place on your bed while it is unattended to prevent accidents from happening while you're away. Along with doing this, one technique you could try is to peel away areas of the sheet every few days, leaving a small surface area of your bed unprotected and gradually increasing this space over time. Like this, the majority of your bed will be protected, however your bunny will slowly get used to having access to more and more space on your bed over time, rather than being exposed to a large space that smells completely unfamiliar in one go, thus decreasing the urge to mark.
Avoid fluffy and cosy blankets/cushions
If you've experienced your bunny having accidents outside of their litter-box before, one thing you may have noticed is that they have a strong preference for soft blankets... cushions... basically, anything fuzzy and warm that kind of feels like another bunny. Even strictly litter-box trained buns sometimes just can't resist peeing on something soft and fluffy. Likely because its comfortable, but probably more so because it feels like a giant soft invader bunny and well, they want to show them who is the boss of this bun-dom, so they do so by marking their territory with their scent 👑. Therefore, if you have a lot of furry/soft blankets and cushions on your bed - I'm sorry to say, but this will be very tempting for your buns. This doesn't necessarily mean you have to remove them completely, for example if you like to sleep with a warm fuzzy blanket for warmth, take actions to prevent your buns from having full unattended access to them. Fold up blankets when you make your bed or remove them completely until it's bedtime. If you are using these blankets/cushions for more of a decorative purpose - try opting for more textured woven blankets or knitted blankets that are a bit less soft and bunny like than those velvety furry ones.
Leave something familiar smelling on your bed
Naturally, you'll wash and change your sheets and duvet covers frequently - and each time they'll smell fresh and clean. This is likely to make your bunny want to mark your bed every time you do this. One thing that can help is to leave something familiar smelling on your bed that doesn't get washed/changed too often. Maybe it's a decorative throw or a bed runner, or you can even get a small blanket that you don't really use, but keep in one corner of your bed for your bunny. If you keep this on your bed every time you wash your sheets and change your covers - there will still be a familiar scent for your bunny and they may be less likely to want to mark the clean smelling sheets.
Pull back your Duvet
One thing I've discovered is that my bunnies actually sometimes sleep on my bed through the night while I'm sleeping. Often I'll wake up in the morning or the middle of the night and see them snuggled in the corner of the bed near their stairs. Since I naturally pull my covers towards me, theres always a corner of uncovered bed for them - i.e. just a sheet on a harder mattress, versus a fluffy duvet and blanket base for them to lie on. I believe this really prevents them from feeling tempted to pee there while I'm sleeping as it's not as soft as the duvet. So if your bun does jump on your bed while you're sleeping or sometimes sleeps there during the day, maybe fold a corner of your duvet away for them before you go to sleep. You might even want to do this during the day time and they may feel more inclined to claim this specific space rather than your whole bed.
Don't feed your rabbit on the bed
You may want to give your bunny a treat here or there when they jump up onto your bed, and I believe you definitely can do this once your bunny is used to going on your bed without leaving an accident. However if you're trying to train your bunny not to leave poops or not to pee on your bed, I'd really avoid feeding them up there for now. Firstly, for the reason that you probably already know - bunnies like to do their business while eating. But more so, if your bunny gets used to receiving goodies on your bed, they may become protective of this magical food dispensing place and feel compelled to claim it as their territory, and well... you know the rest 💩.
Keep Hay or a Litter-box nearby
This sounds counterintuitive to the previous point, however the key here is to keep the food source nearby, but not on your bed. Since your buns are likely to know there is a food source nearby, and moreover a litter-box, if they feel the need to go to the bathroom, knowing theres a litter box nearby may tempt them away from the soft fuzzy bed that would feel really good to pee on. If you have bunny steps to reach your bed, a good option is to place a litter-box on a raised platform next to those stairs, so that when your buns come up onto your bed they remember that there is a toilet and food source very nearby and choose this over your covers.
Allow them a good amount of time to get used to your bed
I really believe that giving your bunny(ies) free access to your bed can actually help with stopping them from peeing/pooping on your bed in the long run. When my buns first would jump on my bed - they did have some accidents, however they eventually stopped doing this themselves as I couldn't really prevent them from accessing my bed. Stopping your bunny from getting to your bed turns it into a forbidden zone, that will naturally smell very different to them, hence when they manage to bypass all the obstacles you put up and get to your bed while you're out - it's very likely they will want to mark that space. Instead, giving them free roam of the space so that it ends up smelling more like them over time, means they are less likely to feel compelled to mark that space, as it's just like any other area of your home/room. It might be tough at first as you likely will have a few accidents, however if you take some of the measures above such as using a mattress protector, removing fuzzy blankets and giving them a corner that's not covered in your duvet, this behaviour will likely decrease over time and become less problematic.
Restrict then re-introduce
If the aforementioned technique still isn't working for you - this is another option that you can try. The restrict and then re-introduce technique is one I use for many different things with the buns. E.g. sometimes I'll introduce a cute pet bed to the bunnies but they start destroying it the moment they see it. So I take it away after a few days if the behaviour doesn't stop and try reintroducing it again, a few days later. I continue to repeat this method until they are completely unbothered by the new object. This can be applied to allowing your bunny onto your bed. If you are making no progress, take measures to prevent access to your bed, then maybe a few days later, try again with allowing your bunny onto your bed. Keep doing this until the accidents start to decrease. I personally went through this - the buns would not leave anything on the bed, and then one random day I'd come back to my room to see a pee stain or a load of poops. Whenever they did this, if they tried to get back on the bed, I'd make them get off the bed and not let them up for a little while and then I'd allow them back up a few days later. Just make sure if you intend to do this, you don't leave huge periods of time between this (so the bed doesn't smell too unfamiliar) and keep a blanket that smells like them on the bed too.
If you have more than one bunny, one of those will be the 'dominant' rabbit, and you may have noticed that the accidents on your bed tend to be caused by that specific bunny. These are in fact not 'accidents' whatsoever. That dominant bunny is basically coming to your territory and reminding you who is boss. You may have noticed during the bonding process that the now-dominant rabbit used to push it's head on top of the other rabbit's head, or would place it's body above the other's. This was in fact a behaviour done to exert dominance - and you can mimic this behaviour by holding your finger down over your bunnies head firmly for a few seconds. Like this you are exerting your dominance over the bunny when in 'your territory'. Continue repeating this behaviour anytime your rabbit jumps onto your bed, just be careful not to press down too hard of course, and only do this for short periods of time.
Okie dokes folks - that's all for now (am I Bugs Bunny?!😋). Hopefully some of those tips and tricks helped you and gave you some new techniques to try. Please just remember, some things take longer than others with rabbits - stay patient and don't lose hope! Wishing you all the best, and hopefully some cute snuggly (pee/poop-free) moments with your buns on your bed, real soon!!
Lots of love, Tamara, Peanut, Butter & the Plants xoxo 💩