Having Ferret Problems ? We May Have Your Solutions
Theres No Such Thing As A Bad Ferret, Only Ferrets With Problems They Can't Tell You About
Do you have problems with your ferret? Does the little rascal nip you? Refuse to use the litter box? Dig in inappropriate places and in his food and water.....making a mess for you to clean up day after day?
These are common problems that make owning a ferret a burden, instead of the joy it can be. It makes you almost hate your little furball, instead of loving him like the best friend he easily could be.
Do you need solutions for your ferret problems ?
If you answered yes, then please read on.
~photo courtesy of Flickr.com
The First Step
Try to Figure Out Why the Behavior is Happening
Sit down and try to figure out what is making a normally loving, happy and playful animal act grumpy and antisocial.
The first thing to check out is physical problems. Take your pet to the vet. Make sure they do not have ear mites, fleas, ticks or something worse. Animals that feel ill are going to be ill-tempered and this may be the reason for the bad behavior.
If your little guy (or gal) checks out ok, then there may be other reasons for the behavioral problems. Below are several potential reasons for poor behavior in ferrets. They are, by no means the only reasons, but they are categories designed to help you think of reasons why you maybe be having problems. The remedy to solving your ferret's problems may depend on the reasons why they are acting inappropriately. This is not easy to do, since you cannot read your pet's mind, and there may be a combination of factors, and not just one. But don't lose heart. With a bit of thinking and training, you can remedy the situation and have a wonderful companion. Isn't that worth it ?
Categories of Potential Reasons for Bad Behavior
Being in an unfamiliar place
Poor Vision or Hearing
Has never been trained or disciplined
Scared of people
Abused by previous owners
Unable to understand what you expect
Triggers are external things that cause a ferret to display some form of inappropriate behavior. For example, if your ferret bites you every time you squeeze a squeaky toy, that squeaking sound is a "trigger." You cannot unteach that reaction, since there is no way of knowing why it happens (it could be purely instinctual) the best solution in this case is to throw away all squeaky toys and don't buy any more.
Once you think you have figured out what is going on in your ferret's head, regarding why he or she behaves as they do, its time to decide a plan of action for untraining that behavior and retraining them in new and appropriate behavior. But before you do that, you need to consider one more thing: Yourself. It is difficult and hurtful to deal with a spiteful acting, nasty pet. You may tend to blame yourself or wonder why you can't have a great ferret like other people do. You can.....it will just take a bit of patience and effort. You need to keep your mind focused on the positive and celebrate each small step in the process. If you get too frustrated, take a break or better yet, keep your sessions short, so neither of you gets too tired or angry. It is very important to work with your ferret every single day. Lavish praise and treats reinforce good behavior and strengthen the new, loving bond you are creating. Gentle words and touch are a must. Show your little buddy that you are a friend and companion that he or she can trust.
~photo courtesy of public domain clip art
How To Un-train and Re-train Behavior.
This subject is huge!
There are literally thousands of ways to train a ferret. Everyone has their own idea of what works. The subject is way too large to cover in this lens, but I would like to give you a sample of training for one problem: biting.
If your ferret bites, there are several things you can do to discourage or stop it. The following are a few:
If your ferret bites you, you can let loose with a loud "OUCH!" or whatever word you want, as long as you always use the same one. This plays off what other ferrets do, when they are bitten too hard during play.
Put bad tasting cream or other spray on your fingers.
Immediately after he or she bites you, put them in their cage and leave the room for 5 minutes.
Gently pin the ferret to the floor or surface they are on, until they get bored. Ferrets do not like to be still in one place.
Gently push your finger in the ferrets mouth for a short while, holding it open. Ferrets find this uncomfortable, and may learn to keep their mouth away from your finger.
Gently grasp your ferret by the scruff of it's neck and hold him up while you hiss at him. Mother ferrets do this, so he may get the idea right away that he has done something wrong.
You can gently cover his face with your hand for a short period of time, after a bite. Do not hold too tight, or you could suffocate him or her.
Some people advocate thumping or hitting a ferret's nose to discipline them, or to spray them with water. I do not endorse these actions, as they can frighten or hurt your ferret and destroy the good feelings you are trying to engender between you.
This is a big oversimplification of the training process. If you are truly interested in finding the easiest ways to train your ferret, along with how to do everything else you need to have the best ferret pet you can, then I would suggest you buy a ferret care guide. It will have all the information you need to make your ferret, and your relationship with your ferret, the best it can possibly be. My recommendation on the most comprehensive ferret care guide is The Ferret Handbook.