Tips for Training Your Ferret

Ferrets are a little harder to train than dogs

Training puppies requires patience, proper technique and tons of time. Ferrets are harder. They’re not unintelligent, but they’re less eager to please and not as socialized as dogs. Though domestic, they’re simply a different kind of animal. But they can be trained. They may not do tricks (though some do), but they can be litter trained, taught not to bite and perform other activities. Ferrets were trained centuries ago to hunt rabbits and mice to rid rodents from areas where food was stored. Grain in particular was a problem. But, ferrets are meat eaters, and they can get down vary narrow burrows, so they were perfect for the job. In modern times, ferrets have been trained to string wires and cables through conduits on jets, and in setting up computer and telecommunications facilities. They love to explore tunnels and getting them to carry a light wire while they do it is a natural extension of a natural behavior. That’s the key to training your ferret. Work with their nature, not against it.

Litter training

Litter training, is a good example. To the ferret that paper or pellet filled litter box isn’t (at first sight) for pooping, it’s for playing in. They love to shove a nose down into the pellets, like they were snorkeling. It will take good timing on your part to watch for their backing up behavior – signaling they’re about to go – then moving them to the litter box. Ferrets, like dogs, prefer not to eat where they eliminate. Given little choice either species will, but their tendency is to avoid it. Separate as far as possible the litter box from the food and water area. If they do eliminate near the food, clean it immediately and wash any cloth nearby. Any remaining scent will encourage them to use that area again. If necessary, move the food and water to a new spot.

Use toys and treats

Toys and treats are helpful adjuncts for training. But they need to be of the right type, in order to ensure the ferret’s health and safety. Ferrets have very sharp teeth and claws, and they love to chew and scratch. That means any toy has to stand up to a lot. Avoid soft rubber or other toys that can break off small pieces easily. Ferrets are exploratory and will eat things that are not good for them. Styrofoam is particularly dangerous, but even ordinary plastics can be a problem. When using soft cloth as part of the training kit, try to avoid materials that can produce small dust-like particles. Ferrets have sensitive respiratory systems and inhaling the fibers or small granules can cause infection.

Be patient

It will take many repetitions, with a lot of patient reminders, to teach your ferret to understand the purpose you intend. That goes for both behaviors and objects. The ferret just wants to explore or play. You want it to do so in a certain way, and with a certain object. Getting on the same page, will require a lot of inventiveness on your part.

Don’t shout at your ferret!

Remember that physical punishment and loud voices encourage fear, not compliance. You’ll need to keep your temper, just as you would with a very young child, while remembering they are ferrets not humans. That’s not easy, but the reward is peace of mind for you and your ferret.

About the Author

Paul writes small pet articles as a hobby. He lives in the Italian Alps with his long-suffering partner and threevery spoilt cats...

2 Comments on "Tips for Training Your Ferret"

  1. We have trained our two to come when they hear a rattling sound (using a pill bottle because it’s something you always have in the house, right?). We would shake it and then give them their Ferretone, which they love. Now all we have to do is rattle, and they come RUNNING from wherever they are to get their ferret crack. This is very useful if they get somewhere, lose their collar (which happens!) and you can’t find them.

  2. If you own ferters, this cage is the best I’ve ever tried and your ferters will love you for it. I had four ferters, and rescued 3 more, so I needed a bigger cage. I got the 143 add on addition, but the seven would have been fine without it in the two story 142 model. You can tell by the ferret’s behavior how happy they are. They can hang out at eye level with you, which causes more interaction between you and them. This is the easiest cage to clean because the doors open all the way (or come off) and the pans slide out. I didn’t have an issue with anyone getting hurt on the ramps. They must have fixed it. The floor space is the biggest of any cage I’ve seen out there, so there is lots of room, in addition to shelves, for them to run around. Changing the ferret litter is a joy now, compared to my old cage, and for some reason they don’t have accidents in the other corners like they did in the old cage. I have a litter box on the bottom so you just open the beautiful, sturdy, ferret proof doors and slide out the pan. EASY!! Another beautiful thing, is that if you close these doors, there is NO WAY for the ferret to figure out how to open it, as they could do with the old cage. I have the super saver shipping with Amazon, and I did shop around, so the free shipping made it cheaper for me at Amazon. This cage has everything a ferret will ever need and will probably last at least 20 years it is so well built and solid. The whole thing weighed at least 130 pounds. I have 5 hammocks in the cage and there is still PLENTY of room. I can’t express enough how happy I am with this cage!{amazon:3}

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