I have used "Funny Bunnies" to familiarize pups with a Rabbit look and smell -personally I believe it helps butt don't let them on them for any length of time it is good for them to smell and "Mouth" them.
It works well if U R planning on having someone start them 4 U as they have a Idea of what they need to do.
I use San Juan's as that is all that is available to me-it is my understanding that the Tennessee Red Backs do good
DO NOT put San Juan's where there are Wild Rabbits as they will KILL them.
Wild rabbit and domesticated rabbits do not not put out the same smell. May look alike but don't smell the same. I've owned naturally broke dogs that would not tongue or track a domesticated rabbit. I cosider the the tame rabbit as off game. I do not use them. I will find road kill rabbit and use the hide as a drag to introduce my pups to rabbit smell.
You can buy Missouri cottontails or Tennessee red backs and they work well for starting a new puppy. Sight chasing a little is great with them. I don’t go much past that point though with anything other than a wild rabbit. Jmo
I also use rabbit skins. When I clean rabbits I try to save a couple and put in freezer bag and freeze. Use for drag!! Scent only last for couple weeks it seems but that’s enough to get a pup excited about rabbit fur!! Never have used tame rabbits as Agree with Judge and JB
It has been more difficult to start pups that have been in small pens sight chasing domesticated rabbits. They tend to use their eyes and heads up rather than nose and tracking. They will jump a wild rabbit but, wild rabbits are not going to just stay within nipping distance of them, so they have to start tracking. Once the rabbit is out of sight then they lose interest are start to look for another. IMO it's great to introduce them to rabbits using domesticated rabbits at a young age, but the older they get, I have seen it make starting them on Wild rabbits more challenging.
I personally have started piles of pups with tame rabbits in years past.The trick is to not allow much sight chasing.I would fire em up with a few sight chases and a rabbit in a roll cage when they were little.Turn the rabbit out in the yard and bump him around for a bit Go get a pup and walk him across the line Usually didn’t take long for them to drop their noses and start tracking.Not the best way but it will work if you are smart about it Like others have said a pup with a lot of sight chasing can be hard to start
I agree with Jeffro. Turn loose san juans close to brush. When the pups can't see him he will have to use his nose. Start all my pups on san juans. I do however don't like to start too young. When I start 'em I want to keep them running. Lot of fun to to see a pup on a rabbit.
I have done some just to get them interested. This last litter I put the rabbits out in the yard while dark. This forced them to use their noses. I’ve started that way a few different times. Otherwise just using them to get them excited and then using their nose a little.
I have used tame rabbits but they didn't last long. The pup would catch and kill or they just died. Now I get a road kill and drag to make a trail then freeze in a freezer bag and use over several times. Then catch one or so in a box trap and let loose for sight chases. This works better than tame rabbits I think.
Guys if I was new reading this I’d think I needed wild rabbits. This just ain’t true. Prob a majority of dogs I’ve started even if just initially w tame rabbits. I’ve used dwarf/Pygmy mix even meat rabbits if I needed to. The sight chase thing is crazy too. Just cause they’re in a pen doesn’t mean anything about a sight chase. My pen was small. Maybe 40 x 60 yards long. Only for real young pups and only initial starting.
I worked at a place sold Christmas trees. Every year I’d take pick up truck loads home after Christmas. There were at least 200 trees all stacked up in the pen. It was a giant snag. The same rabbits were in there years. Not once did a dog have the slightest bit of trouble w a cottontail. Nor did they run trash. Answer is yes you can start w tame rabbits. Be aware you don’t want sight chasing going on. If it’s too open an area I’d do it once maybe just to light a fire. There’s other options too. I’ve also started dogs wild rabbits. To me it’s a matter of convenience.