By Lee Dobbins
“But daddy, I want a ferret”. My daughter has a lovely personality and is not one to complain or nag, yet over the course of several days; she continued, “daddy, I want a ferret”. I never really had a choice as she looked at me with those baby blues; we were headed to the pet store to buy a baby ferret (called a kit).
For the most part I’m a dog person, having had many “man’s best friends” during the course of my life, loving each one deeply. As we walked into the pet store I was thinking… “This could never be true with a ferret”. I was wrong and my daughter grew to love “Casper”, the name she chose for her white albino ferret, and he became part of our family.
What amazed me over time was their intelligence and personality, and of course boundless energy and curiosity. Ferrets, just like dogs, can be taught tricks; it simply takes time and patience. Casper has learned to come when we squeak a certain toy, but I’ve heard many ferrets can learn to…
Sit on your shoulder
And even walk on a leash (that one I’d like to see).
The difference between dogs and ferrets, we discovered after much frustration was getting and maintaining their attention. Most pets have short attention spans, but ferrets always have a sense of urgency… “I have to explore… I have to explore”. Knowing that, NEVER attempt teaching your ferret tricks in an unexplored area, you’ll be banging your head in frustration.
FERRET FACT: Ferrets have highly developed hearing, especially in determining the direction and distance of a particular sound. The area between their ears and brain sends more information than the human equivalent.
While not exactly a trick, teaching your ferret to come on command, is important and should they get lost, crucial to their survival. It’s not difficult; just takes time and experimentation. Find, buy or borrow fun objects like squeaky toys, finding ones that create different noises. As you spend time with your ferret friend, squeeze one particular toy, wait awhile, then squeeze another. Eventually you’ll find one that peaks their interest. Once this is determined, half the battle is over.
Next, whenever you call his name…. “Casper” (in our instance), squeak the toy several times till he comes (if that doesn’t work, back to the drawing board). Gradually, (if desired) you can stop using your ferret’s name, simply squeezing the toy (making the noise) till they prance into the room. IMPORTANT: Be certain to give them a reward when they fulfill a task. Unlike dogs, ferrets don’t perform simply for your enjoyment.
The key to teaching your ferret any trick is patience and consistency. Training a baby ferret (called a kit) is probably an impracticable task; they are brimming with energy and their attention span very limited. Still, begin early and continue, never giving into your own frustration and always rewarding good behavior with a treat. Do this with diligence and patience and no matter which ferret trick you’ve chosen, it will be within reach.
About the author
Lee Dobbins writes for http://ferrets.pet-breeds.com/ where you can learn more about pet ferrets and find out more about teaching your ferret tricks.
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