Having a ferret can be a ton of fun—but it comes with challenges. If you’re a first-time ferret owner, you might not know just how to manage these feisty, fantastic, weaselly boys or girls. They have certain quirks and behaviors that might be hard for some to manage but don’t worry.
These animals can be mannerly, even if they seem pretty crazy! You can train your ferret on anything from eliminating biting to tricks. In this article, we will briefly expand on the different techniques and considerations you’ll need for the process. Let’s jump in!
The 11 Tips on How to Train a Ferret
1. Understand Ferret Behavior
To train a ferret, you must understand their behavior. Ferrets are very erratic, flighty, and hard to contain. They need proper training because of their short attention spans and rowdy temperaments—but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with it!
Ferrets are very intelligent and curious—so while they might be this way-that way, they also love learning new things. Young ferrets will be particularly hard to train because they are exuberant and full of energy, so gaining their focus can be a challenge.
Unaltered ferrets might be a bit more complicated to train, too, thanks to hormones! If you notice any agitation or aggression, it could be from hormone fluctuations. Consult your vet if your ferret isn’t altered. Please note that it’s very important to have your pet altered, and the vast majority of ferrets in the pet trade are altered at a very young age for their health and welfare.
You’ll find that each of your ferrets has a very different personality. Some will be more upbeat while others take a lackadaisical life approach. Always consider this when training.
2. Bond First
Before you start training, it is essential to establish a relationship first. After all, they will be much more apt to work with you when they connect with you. If they are afraid, uneasy, or indifferent, they may pay you no mind—or even get agitated.
Once you bring your ferret home, spend the first several days or weeks interacting with them in a way that suits their personality. You can get to the scheduled stuff later.
3. Consider the Life Stage
Younger ferrets are vibrant and full of energy. With that, it can be very hard for them to concentrate or hold still long enough to take direction. They are experiencing the world for the first time and want to fill their days with mischief and tomfoolery.
However, young ferrets are more than capable of learning how to use the litter box and other basics.
Older juveniles and adults have likely already established a relationship with you and may have calmed slightly. You may have better luck at this point with advanced skills and trick training.
4. Decide What Training to Start
You can teach your ferret a myriad of things. It’s best to decide where to start.
Litter training is a must to keep a tidier cage and prevent accidents from happening in the home! Like cats, ferrets can use the litter box to do their business. In fact, most of them prefer to have a designated area for bathroom use.
Potty training is one of the easier forms of training for ferrets. However, some might be a little challenging and require some extra encouragement.
Ferrets often let their mouths do the talking. Sometimes, you might get a hard bite on your hand during play or correction. It is essential not to react aggressively when this happens and to follow a specific format to reduce this behavior.
After all, ferret bites can really hurt! They have very sharp teeth that can puncture the skin with minimal effort.
Ferrets are more than capable of learning basic commands. This might take a little motivation in the form of treats or toys, but you can encourage them to act once you find their weakness.
You can easily teach your ferret to walk on a leash, which you should! After all, these adventurous little critters will absolutely love going outside just as much as any dog or cat. You should not use collars on your ferret. In addition, their harness should be an H-style harness.
5. Choose What Method You’ll Use
People have many recommendations on the best ways to train your ferret for various tasks. Don’t be afraid to research and choose the most fitting method for your situation.
What might work for one ferret won’t work for all, so remember that you might have to switch it up depending on the personality you’re dealing with.
6. Have Patience
Training a ferret will not be like training a dog or cat. They are a species of their own and require a specific type of interaction for things to really sink in. You must have patience if you are experienced with ferrets and how they learn.
7. Be Consistent
If you’re trying to teach your ferret something new and useful, it’s important to be consistent until they get the hang of it. Work with your ferret on a routine schedule and don’t slack! The more repetitive you are, the quicker they’ll get the hang of things.
8. Practice, Practice, Practice
You know what they say. Practice makes perfect. Even if your ferret is feeling off that day, practicing the behaviors you would like to achieve continually is best. Your ferret won’t get it right away, but soon, whatever training you want them to learn will become second nature.
9. Tackle One Thing at a Time
Take your time with all the training. You can practice different forms of learning with your ferret as things move along. Let them conquer one method before moving on to the next. For example, you should tackle litter training first since it sets the foundation.
Then, you can move on to leash training or command training based on your particular needs. Don’t try to shove everything in a single lesson. You might get scattered, and your ferret might lose interest or have trouble retaining things.
10. Never Use Punishment
It is normal to get frustrated during training. After all, you have a desired result, and it can be hard to get your ferret to follow along. However, you have to be careful about the types of correction you use as it can permanently impact your relationship with your pet.
Hitting, yelling, or any other form of physical correction is certainly not the fastest route to the best result. It can permanently impact your relationship with your ferret and make training challenging, if not impossible.
Common Behavioral Problems in Ferrets
Ferrets certainly don’t come without their challenges. While some might be more laid back and mannerly than others, specific behavioral issues can arise. Here are the most common complaints from ferret owners.
Many ferrets use biting as a way of communicating. However, it can really hurt! There isn’t often a rhyme or reason when a ferret bites, so it can be a difficult behavior to correct. Luckily, this happens most often in young and experienced ferrets that will quickly learn the power of their jaws.
Some ferrets just don’t quite have the hang of potty training. You might continue to see house soiling which can become a problem as your ferret ages.
Mischievous is certainly among the descriptive words you could use for a ferret. Because of their ordinary nature, some of them can be downright disobedient. Working on mannerly obedience can be somewhat tricky for experienced ferret owners, but you’ll quickly learn to adapt to each personality.
No matter what type of training you’re working on with your ferret, keep these tips in mind while you teach. Success won’t happen overnight. Like anything else, good things take time.
But your ferret is a brilliant creature that is more than capable of learning advanced skills. So don’t let their laziness or rowdy nature fool you – your ferret will get the hang of things as long as you stay consistent.