Disciplining a ferret can be a bit difficult as they are very stubborn creatures and you need all the patience in the world. More than that, some ferrets love picking on you just to test your authority. The only thing you can do is ignore the ferret and it will get back to its business within a few minutes.
In this article, we’ll talk about how to discipline a ferret properly and what you should never do for the training to be effective.
How do you discipline a ferret – Things You Should Do
It’s very important to start the relationship with your ferret on the right foot. Once the pet will lose its trust in you and will start to fear you, there will take a long time to make them trust you again. Patience is always the key in training any animal as some are smarter than others.
Ferrets are known to be quite smart and can learn lots of tricks. However, they don’t tend to remain focused for too long if the training isn’t fun, and this can make them act out. Discipline them with an authority voice so they know who the boss is, but never lose your temper.
Scruff and drag
Scruffing your ferret and saying “No” is easily one of the most effective and popular ways to discipline it. Make sure the scruff is gentle and say “No” in a serious voice. It will help if you point the finger at the ferret as well. This will later get the same results just by pointing the finger at the ferret.
Dragging can also be very effective, especially when you’re trying to make the ferret stop nipping. It works in curbing other unwanted behavior as well.
Use praises to reinforce desired behavior
Another very effective way to teach the ferret what is right and what is wrong is by praising it when it does something right. If you notice that it goes to the litter box all on its own, get a treat as quickly as you can and offer it as soon as it finishes doing its business and start giving lots of pets and praise words.
Just make sure you’re giving the treat at the right time. Otherwise, the ferret might think that it gets a treat every time it pees and not every time it pees in the right place.
Squirting water is as effective on ferrets as it is on cats. There might be some ferrets that take the water squirting as a sign that you want to play and others might even enjoy it and start drinking the water that comes at it. But generally, they get upset when this happens and learn not to misbehave.
This method works the best when you’re trying to stop the ferret from scratching the carpet or the couch.
Using the word NO
The simple and magical word “NO” can be very effective if used properly. You shouldn’t scream it but you shouldn’t say it in a soft voice either. It might take a few tries before you get it right but it’s an easy way to let the ferret know that it’s doing something bad.
Using a firm “NO” before a time out is highly recommended, and it should be used with a spray of water and scruff as well.
Short time out periods
Giving your misbehaving ferret time out offers both of you a few minutes away from each other to calm down. Never give a ferret a time out longer than 5 minutes as they will forget why they are there and the punishment becomes completely useless.
You should also have a specific cage or place for time out, and not the cage the ferret usually sleeps in. Otherwise, when it’s time to sleep the ferret will think it did something bad.
Find out what works for your ferret
A method that works for one ferret can actually have a negative effect on another. This is why you need to remember which disciplinary method works for each ferret and quit doing something if it affects the ferret. For example, a ferret might have been in an accident and can’t be scruffed, another’s deaf, one is just stubborn and independent, etc.
Things You Should Avoid Doing
Giving your ferret the wrong kind of punishment for misbehaving can make the animal become aggressive and even try to attack you when it feels threatened. So let’s also take a moment and talk about the things you should never do when disciplining a ferret.
Giving long time outs
Long time-outs will only have a negative effect on your ferret. It will quickly forget why you locked it up and it will start hating you for it. And if the ferret does something bad right before taking it back to its cage to sleep, take it to its time-out cage and let it cool down for 5 minutes. Then you should play a bit with it and put it to sleep. Otherwise, it will see being taken to its cage as a punishment.
Ferrets have incredibly sensitive noses and a very good sense of smell. Flicking its nose can cause permanent damage to the nasal cavity. More than that, you are simply teaching the ferret that humans should be feared.
Never hit or spank a ferret
Avoid hitting or spanking your ferret no matter what terrible thing it did. Doing this to discipline the ferret is actually closer to abuse than anything else. These furry creatures are small animals and even the easiest spank can be painful for your ferret. You can damage the relationship between you two very quickly and it will be hard to redo.
Don’t give time outs in cages, that’s a good place for them.
If you use a cage as a time-out space, make it look as different from its normal or traveling cage as possible. Make sure the ferret doesn’t recognize that it’s a typical cage. All it needs to know is that it’s a confinement place.
Their sleeping cage should always be their safe space and they should never feel like they did something bad when you place them inside the traveling cage to take them to the vet.
Never yell at a ferret
Ferrets have sensitive ears as well, and a simple yell is a lot louder for the ferret than for you. This can intimidate the ferret and it can get scared every time you raise your voice even slightly. A firm “No” is all you should use on a ferret when it does something bad.