ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Ferret Training - Correcting Unwanted Behaviours

Updated on June 18, 2013

There will always be some unwanted behaviours that you will come across and it is not helpful that some ferrets are very persistent and determined to have it their way. The best advise for persistent ferrets is to have patience and keep trying, because it can take months, and even longer if you don’t, but it is always worth it in the end.

You must never use violence to correct your ferret. Hitting it will just cause the ferret to distrust you more and be mean towards you. You will create a monster ferret that always bites humans. You must never prolong any discipline longer than necessary because it will not be more effective in any way and can worsen the unwanted behaviour.

For example, at some point in your life, you will encounter a ferret scratching at the door. They think that if they scratch long enough, they will be able to go through the other side. It wouldn’t have been a problem if this behaviour didn’t cause the carpet to rip apart where it was scratching. Unfortunately, there is very little you can do about this, so if you do not want ruined carpets, you must use duct tape or glue some plastic (the kind for door mats) onto the surface of the carpet along the edge of the door. This is a pain if your carpet is thick and if the space between your carpet and door is very narrow. But if you can do it, it is well worth it as the ferret gives up eventually. You should also try not to let anyone enter or leave the room during playtime as this is how the behaviour was reinforced in the first place.

The agile ones will always try to climb onto the shelves or anything they can climb onto. There is only one effective way to avoid this, move the shelf to somewhere it cannot reach, or build some barrier to stop it climbing up. Do not leave treats on shelves that are accessible to them because this reinforces the idea of climbing onto the shelves and that becomes a huge problem. I gave up in the end and just let mine climb it. But always I will take them down if they climbed too high. They seemed to get bored after a while and not climb it so often.

Grasping the loose skin on the back of a ferret is a very important, as you will need to do it very often, especially in situations like holding the ferret down for vet injections. It is also a very helpful technique for correction (as you will see in the next paragraph) and it does not hurt the animal, though it is uncomfortable for them. What you want to achieve is a limp ferret that yawns once in a while when you hold it up, by literally taking a handful of its loose skin at the back of the neck. This is also part of training as sometimes you will need the ferret still for taking medication and such. With a large ferret weighing more than a kilo, you will need to use your other hand to lightly support its bottom otherwise it will be painful for it.

Whenever a ferret’s teeth touches human skin, regardless of whether it hurt or not, you must immediately correct the ferret by grasping the loose skin at the back of the neck and say in a low and stern tone, “NO!”. Stay calm and be patient. Keep the ferret held up in this position for about 30 seconds and release it only if is still, otherwise, say “NO!” again and put it down when it is still. If you do not do this, the ferret will learn that every time it struggles, you will put it down, and this will be a problem if you need to save your ferret from an aggressive animal trying to attack it for example.

If the bite was only a nip then that small correction is enough, but if it nips again either immediately or after only a short period of time, you must then repeat the previous and shake it gently. If the ferret is not deaf, then an accompanied hiss can also be effective.

If it nips for a third time then it will get all that and gets put in the carry case or a large plastic bin with high sides for a 5 minute timeout. This is called the caging technique. Any longer than this becomes ineffective as the ferret will forget why it has been separated. For this technique to be effective, the carry case or bin needs to be placed somewhere the ferret can see or hear other ferrets having a good time. You must only let it out when it is quiet and not scratching the case or else it will think that you will let it out if it scratches long enough.

Placing the ferret in its cage for time out is not encouraged by some owners because they think that the ferret will come to resent the cage and therefore cause it to be unhappy. After all, playtime is over when they are placed back into the cage and you do not want to make it more miserable for them.

Most ferrets will not bite you to the point that it takes days for you to recover. Hyperactive young kits will sometimes bite and hold on, but they do not have the strength of an adult ferret but you must let it be known that it is unacceptable behaviour or else you will have a biting adult ferret which is definitely something you do not want. Some ferrets never bite humans at all.

A lot of the time a ferret will bite you to invite play. You will be known to this because the ferret will bite your ankle and then run away for cover. If you know that you cannot catch your ferret in time, don’t bother, because that is exactly what it wants you to do, to chase it. But if you can catch it, scruff it immediately and say “NO” in the low and stern tone and shake it gently a little and it will learn that you are no fun when it invites you for play in that way. Do not make the mistake of playing with it immediately after punishing it!

Sometimes the alpha male will challenge you to its pecking order. This is difficult to tell but he will be persistent until you establish that you are the more dominant one. You will need to only do this a few times to get the message across as the pecking order only lasts a week at most, so it should be the same in this situation. If you suspect that he is challenging your status, you must scruff him, say “NO!” and drag him over a metre over the floor with his full body trailing over the surface. You might want to do this three more times to get the idea across, but it won’t work until he has stopped hissing at you and has become recessive. Sometimes the ferret will whimper. This is when you know he has accepted your dominance! Such acts can last for half an hour, and a persistent dominant male will try to test his position often. Neutering in this case may help alleviate this problem.

Some owners swear that this dragging technique is effective with ferrets which nip. But I find that the ferrets will curse you more by hissing as they will not accept that tolerance and it will be clear from their behaviour afterwards that they do not like you, even if its just for 5 minutes. But you should try this if the scruffing isn’t working.

Problem biters are very difficult to discipline and train. This is because they may have suffered abuse at some point in their lives and to reverse their behaviour can take months.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)