Training pets require a huge amount of patience. Training ferrets require enough understanding and sanity. But before you change your mind and return your newly-purchased ferret, fear not. It just requires a dash of creativity and positive reinforcement and you’re set. Here are some tips:
1. Nip training
Ferrets sometimes have a bad habit of nipping or biting. Young ferrets, when playing, “involves a lot of biting because their fur and skin is quite thick.”Adult ferrets, on the other hand, bite because they’re “frightened, scared or were not properly taken care of when they were still young, thus, unable to socialize well.” You need to be firm in saying a loud NO when they start biting. Your “strict verbal command is just as important in discipline in other measures.”Using water spray bottle and Bitter Apple can also help.
2. Harness Training
Wearing a harness is dependent on the ferret. Some ferrets may like it but some prefer to discover the wild outdoors by themselves. A collar is not enough to secure them because it can either choke them or they may slip out of it. Don’t let them go with a harness unsupervised or else, they’ll get tangled.
3. Walking Outdoors
Walking a ferret is not like walking a dog. It requires more patience because it may be doing a lot of “upping and downing — that is climbing up your trousers (or asked to be picked up) only to go down again 10 seconds later.” Also, be aware of your surroundings. Check for other pets that may not respond all too well to your ferret. Check the temperature because it might be already be too humid/hot or cold for your pet.
4. Litter Box Training
The younger you train them, the better. Providing a “stable litter pan that can be firmly attached to the cage is the first step. Placing or leaving a small amount of urine or feces will reinforce that this is the bathroom area.” Give them a treat when you see them using the litter box properly.
Ferrets are active pets and when they get bored, they scratch couches and doors. You can avoid the stress by keeping their nails trimmed or keep your handy dandy water spray bottle nearby.
After a long day, it’s not good to come home to a house with scattered litter box and ruined carpet. Digging is part of their behavior. You can start out “by putting less in the pan and keep it just clean enough that there’s a dry layer on top.” Under your supervision, you can also let them dig in a place where they will be allowed to dig.
7. Introducing to Children
Introduce your ferrets to children only when they have already been nip-trained. Kits have a tendency to bite when playful. Even the sweetest ferret can become unpredictable when threatened.
8. Following Commands
While the ferret is still young, “use repeated phrases to familiarize your ferret with the human language.” If you want them to understand you, just keep repeating your words and they will eventually relate it to the object of your command.
9. Finding Ferrets
Ferrets respond to sounds. Find a sound your pet is interested in. Select from a variety of toys with catchy sounds. Once you find it, use this to your advantage especially when your pet is lost somewhere or if you need it to come to you for whatever reason.
10. Teaching Other Tricks
To teach your ferret tricks, “plan on small training sessions that are full of activities that your ferret will enjoy.” Length of time needs to be considered knowing that they don’t sit still for a long time. Rewarding their good behavior reinforces relationships. The more they trust you, the easier it will be for them to learn new tricks.