5 Ways to Train a Ferret

Ferrets are not the most common kind of pets out there and are very different than cats and dogs. They are highly intelligent, playful and inquisitive creatures and they serve as wonderful pets. Due to their amazing capacity to understand and learn, ferrets can be trained.

Ferrets are trained just like cats and dogs. You can use treats and repeat the whole process again and again until your ferret gets a hang of it. Training ferrets is hard but not impossible. It needs a lot of patience, but it is all worth it.

Keep reading this article to know everything that will help you train your furry ferrets without much difficulty!

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#1 Training ferrets not to bite

You can begin with scruffing your ferret. This is one of the best ways you can stop your little pet from biting you. To do this grab your ferret by the loose skin on the back of its neck and then lift the ferret to your eye level.

Proceed by closing the ferret’s mouth using your thumb and index finger and just look at the critter and say NO in a direct and loud voice. The ferret, like any animal, will try to make you let go but do not hesitate as your ferret is not in pain.

If saying No does not work and your ferret is still biting you, then just put him on timeout. Place the ferret in a carrier used for traveling or its cage is also fine, for about 5 minutes. This procedure does wonders if your kit or baby ferret is messing around.

The kits are rather playful and they are not big fans of being alone. A timeout will help your ferret understand that it did something wrong and if it does not change its behavior it will have to spend a lot of time alone in the cage or carrier.

If you leave your ferret in the cage or the carrier for a long period of time, it might end up going to sleep and that is just counterproductive. Your ferret needs to know that the time in the cage is a timeout and not associate it with sleeping time.

Like babies, you can just go ahead and distract the ferret using a toy when it bites you. Ferrets love playing and they would stop anything they are doing to play around.

Give your ferret a toy to chew on rather than allowing it to munch on your skin. This will help your ferret get the idea that toys are to be chewed on and not humans. You can just casually add this to its routine rather than making the whole biting scenario a big deal.

There are certain training mistakes that you should avoid for the training to be effective. Scolding or screaming at your ferret does not work. By screaming at your ferret you are just scaring it and not helping it learn anything. Your ferret will soon become afraid of you and you do not want that. Scolding just backfires.

This method is not such a good idea especially when you did not catch the ferret in the act. Ferrets are short attention spans and if you scold your ferret for something that was done ages ago, then your ferret will have no idea what it is being scolded for. It will be unable to associate your anger with the act. You want your ferret to see you as someone who is loving and caring rather than a merciless dictator.

A very effective way of preventing your ferret from biting you is by simply using apple cider vinegar. The taste of the apple cider vinegar will repulse the ferret deeply and it will not attempt to bite you again.

Just apply lime or apple cider vinegar to your ankles or your hands, just areas where the ferret usually nibbles on you. Be careful never to spray your ferret directly as you will only hurt it. You can also apply the apple cider vinegar to the bars of your ferret’s cage if it has the habit of munching the cage bars.

Another thing you need to understand is the reasons for your ferret biting you. This will help you nip the problem in the bud. The baby ferrets should be treated differently as compared to adult ferrets.

Kits are much easier to train than adult ferrets and if you have the patience, then you can easily train your baby ferret in a few weeks. It might take longer in case of the adult ferrets as their habit has been set in stone by the time you get to it.

The best way to get a kit to stop biting you is to just hold the baby and let it squirm. Once it stops squirming put it back down and then reward the little creature for being a good pet.

If you want your ferret to listen to you, then you need to get it to trust you. Ferrets that were not handled properly when they were babies have a habit of biting humans because they do not trust them.

You need to provide as much as fur to skin contact as possible even if you are scared of being bitten. Breaking the cycle here is very important as most people just move their hands away as soon as they are bitten, so there is no chance of fur to skin contact.

Ferrets also bite when they are scared. You should try to calm them. The best way to do this is to feed them out of your hand and gently touch them.

This will help the ferret understand that you do not want to hurt it and you are its friend rather than a potential threat. This case is more common among ferrets that were abused or ill-treated as kits. Once the ferret is eating from your hand, you can go ahead and steadily pick it up.

The best way to do this is not to rush the process. The ferret will befriend you on its term, and you need to give it the time it needs to be able to trust you. Rushing it will only make things worse. Keep the training sessions short at first and then gradually make them longer.

Some ferrets have the habit of biting you as a way of telling you that they want you to play with them. If your ferret does this, then just push away your hand and simply walk away from your pet. Your ferret might think that this is a chasing game and chase after you.

Just ignore your pet and this will help it to understand that biting is not a very appropriate way of getting its message across. If your ferret starts to bite you in the middle of playtime, then just stop playing.

#2 Training ferrets to do tricks

Ferrets can also be trained to perform tricks, but again you need to be very patient. The process is not for the impatient. Using treats to train animals has been around for thousands of years. You can train ferrets by using treats such as boiled chicken cut up in little pieces. You need to use these treats as a reward or positive reinforcement.

Ferrets are actually obligate carnivores; which means that they need a diet that is dominated by meat. Get treats that are meat based and try to avoid grains or vegetables as ferrets do not have the digestive system to consume them. You can use your finger or a spoon to feed the ferret treats.

You should invest in a good clicker if you want to train your ferret properly. A wide variety of clickers can be found in pet stores and you can also purchase them online.

You can use the clicker to click when the ferret does something you want it to do and so it acts as positive reinforcement. Using clickers is a much faster way to respond to your ferret as compared to giving the ferret treats and this also makes it easier for the ferret to get a grip on the behavior you want. A cheaper way to do it is to use a ballpoint pen as a clicker.

You can start by using the clicker and the offering your ferret treats in a row. This will help your ferret get an idea that a click means “good job” and associate it with something positive. You ferret will begin to look for a treat after a click and that is when you will know that your little pet understands now.

Another way to train your ferret is to add common verbal signals to your training sessions. Once your ferret understands what you want it to do then begin associating that behavior with a verbal cue like when your ferret runs to you, you can say come here as you tap the ground and show what you want. Remember to rewards your ferrets with treats and clicks once it runs to you.

#3 Training the ferret to sit

Training your ferret is not as hard as it sounds, but it is much more difficult the teaching your cat or dog to sit. You just to need to remember to make the training sessions short and to reward your ferret.

Begin by holding a treat above the head of your ferret. Once your ferret is attentive towards you, begin to slightly lower the treat but make sure that the treat is out of your pet’s reach. When the ferret lowers its bottom say SIT very clearly and then continue to carry this out again and again until your ferret understand what sit means. Keep on rewarding your ferret and cuddling it.

#4 Training the ferret to roll over

When you begin this trick, make sure that ferret is lying on its back. Hold up a treat in your hand and slowly move the treat toward one side of the head of the ferret.

The ferret will most probably move their head with the treat in order to get it. Bring the treat around the back of the ferret’s head and continue to move it, there will soon come a point where the ferret is unable to move its head anymore in order to get the treat and so will proceed to roll over in order to reach it.

Say roll over once the ferret rolls and give it the treat to reward it. Continue to do this again and again until the ferret gets a hand of it.

#5 Litter training a ferret

Ferrets are not like cats and they do not have the natural instinct of pooping in the litter once it is provided to them. You need to train them to use the litter box persistently. Even after training the ferret to use the litter there might be some accidents, but you do not have to worry.

You need to keep your ferret in the cage once you start potty training it. Put a litter box in the corner of the cage where the ferret usually does its business.

Remember to attach the litter box to the cage as ferrets are very playful creatures and they will push around the litter box and play with it. If you have a cage that has more than one story then put a litter box in each story.

Fill the litter box with litter that is not scented and does not clump together. Shredded newspaper is a good option for ferret litter, so never go for cedar or pine shavings and they cause havoc to the respiratory system of the ferrets. Add feces or urine to the litter box so that the ferret understand what the litter box is for.

Ferrets mostly take a dump as soon they wake up. So if you catch your ferret waking up, pick the little creature up and place it in the litter box.

Remember to put the ferret nose first into the litter box so that it can sniff around and understand what the litter box is for. Do not let your ferret come out to play before it does its business.

Some ferrets are very clever and they will fake doing their business just so that they are allowed to come out and play. Check the litter box after the ferret has done its business just to make sure. Continue to do this every day and soon your ferret will get a hang of the routine.

If you let your ferret roam around the house then make sure that there is a litter box in every corner of the rooms that the ferret is allowed to roam around in. Also, ferrets do not sleep, eat and do their business in the same place. So you need to keep the litter pan away from the food dish and the bedding of the ferret.

Ferrets tend to do their business at the same place they did it before, so if your ferret has an accident make sure to clean the area at once. Use apple cider vinegar or lime and spray it in the places that your ferret does its business. These sprays will repulse the ferret and it will not continue with its messy behavior.

The most important thing you need to be aware of is that ferrets will not do their business is a very dirty place, ironic as it sounds. You need to clean the litter plan at least twice a day in order to prevent ferret accidents, lingering of odor and also to stop your ferrets from digging and making a mess. Once a week throw away the litter and wash the litter boxes with warm water and dish soap.

Add fresh litter afterward. This will help you to provide a hygienic environment for your ferrets and to reduce the odor that comes with owning a ferret.

Related question

I go to work every day. What do I do with my ferret? Ferrets are very heavy sleepers and they basically sleep around 18 hours a day. They also can easily work around your schedule. When you have to leave, just lock them in their cage and remember to give them attention once you come back home to them.

Do ferrets and dogs get along? This is a rather open ending question as it depends on the animals, but ferrets generally get along with cats and dogs both.

Is it okay to give my ferret peanut butter as a treat? Most of the peanut butter produces commercially are rich in preservatives and fillers which is very bad for the digestive system of your ferret. If you are sure that the peanut butter you have is all natural without any artificial sweeteners and sulphates, then yes you can use it as a treat.

Do ferrets get ticks or fleas? Yes, as a matter of fact, they do get fleas or ticks. They can get it from being in contact with other animals with fleas or ticks or just by running on the grass. You need to frequently visit your vet in order to stay updated and on top of any potential issues.

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