How to Train a Ferret Not to Bite. The Only Way

ferret exposing teeth, maybe about to bite

The Problem: Why Do Ferrets Bite?

Biting comes instinctively to ferrets, just like any other animal. It’s why you shouldn’t blame them or hurt them if they start nipping. Instead, try to figure out the reason behind its biting behavior before you proceed further. In this article, we will show you How to Train a Ferret Not to bite.

Here are a few reasons why you’ve become their chew toy:

  • Teething

Is your pet a kit? Nipping and biting indicate that the baby has started teething. You can offer it a chewable toy to ease their pain. 

  • Affection

Are you the ferret’s first owner? Most untrained ferrets think nipping is a sign of affection. It’s why they nip their owners whenever they want attention.  Additionally, they might bite their playmates as a form of rough play. You shouldn’t worry about this, as long as nobody is getting hurt. 

  • Self-defense

Does your ferret come from an abusive home? 

If yes, then biting is a form of self-defense for them. The poor thing is conditioned to believe that humans are a threat. The only way to help them break away from this habit is by treating it with tender love and care.

  • Adjustment Issues

Did you get a new pet? Did you change the ferret’s routine?

Sometimes ferrets begin nipping when they are stressed out. It’s a sign that they are not happy with the new change in their surroundings/schedules. You should give them some time to adjust to this new situation. Do this by offering them love and attention, also get them accustomed to the new routine gradually, instead of enforcing it all at once. 

  • Tit-for-Tat

Do you hit your ferret? 

If your disciplinary actions include physical contact, then your ferret will bite you. Not only is this their response to a flight or fight situation, but it’s also mimicking your actions. That’s why you should avoid physical punishments during your training sessions. 

In short, biting is usually a reaction to something that is bugging your furry friend. Once you identify the problem, you’ll find a solution much more quickly.   

Pro tip: Take your ferret to the vet if they fail to respond positively to your training techniques.  

The Solution: How to Train a Ferret Not to Bite You?

First things first, teaching your furball not to nip doesn’t require rocket science.  The training methods require strategy and resourcefulness on your part. They are easy-to-follow and will start working a few days/weeks after you enforce the anti-nipping rules. 

Here are some practical ways to train a ferret not to bite: 

1.  Distract Them

The classic strategy works effectively on ferrets of all ages. You can use this tactic when your ferret starts nipping you during playtime. The idea is simple; just hand them a toy to chew instead of your hand. They will quickly move onto the object and stop nipping you.

Pro tip:  If you’ve started training your ferret, then command them to stop nipping with a clear, ‘NO!’  The verbal warning could help them understand that they should reserve chewing to toys and not humans. 

2.   Cut off Their Rewards 

Is your ferret constantly gnawing your hand?

Sometimes distractions don’t work on the fuzzy. 

If that’s the case, then you should implement some disciplinary measures to stop them from biting. The best strategy is to put them back into the cage for a timeout. You can also isolate them from the other ferrets or their toys if you’ve got a biter in the group.

After that, keep giving them a timeout whenever they nip.  Eventually, the ferret will realize that nipping you would put an end to playtime and treats. 

3.  Anti-Nipping Protection  

Is there a way to keep their teeth off your skin?

Despite its effectiveness, nip training can take time. You should take alternative measures to protect your skin during this transition phase.

The most popular solution is to spray a deterrent on your exposed skin whenever you go near the ferret. The bitter taste of the spray and its scent is sufficient enough to send the fuzzy away. Not only would the ferret stop biting you that day, but they’ll abstain from future biting whenever you come close.

What kind of deterrent can you use? 

Here are a few options:

  • Bitter apple spray
  • Pepper spray
  • Anti-chew spray from a store

These sprays are a practical and safe way to deter the ferret. You can run a trial session by spraying some of it on a piece of cloth/cotton and bringing it near the ferret. Your curious pet is bound to inspect the new arrival, and recoil once it gets a taste of the bitter flavor.

The strategy will help you identify the scents and flavor your pet detests most. You can then use those sprays to put them off. 

Pro tip: You can use this spray around the house to prevent your ferret from chewing on the furniture (or other objects).  

4.  The Triple Threat 

How to train a ferret not to bite without using chew toys and sprays?

If you’re not interested in using external things to deter your pet, then formulate a proper disciplinary protocol against the biter.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Verbal Warning 

First, make a loud noise and command them to stop by saying ‘No or stop’ whenever they start biting. A trained ferret will typically get the signal and promptly respond by backing away from your hand. 

  • Scruffing 

If your ferret doesn’t listen to the verbal cues, then you should get physical.  You do this by gently picking up the furry, by the loose skin around its neck. Then close their mouth and tell them to stop, whilst you glare at them.

After that, place them back to the ground and walk away.

You can perform the same action whenever they start biting you or other things around them. The constant scruffing will make them realize the biting is unwanted behavior. 

  • Isolation 

Enforce a timeout policy if the other correctional strategies don’t work on them.  It’s an extended version of method number two. The only difference is that you will have to give them a longer timeout if their biting habit persists.  

Can’t remember all these strategies? We’ve created an acronym for the anti-nipping technique that you won’t forget. You can uncover the secret formula by reading Chapter 10 from our book on ferrets. (Insert Link)

What’s More?

Nip training can go awry if you’re not careful. That’s why we’ve listed some tips and tricks to ensure that things don’t go out of hand when you start implementing our techniques.

Let’s have a look at these major dos and don’ts: 

  • DO start the nip training as early as possible. We’ve noticed that younger pets break away from the habit quickly as opposed to adult ferrets. 
  • DON’T shout or hurt the ferret during the process. We believe that ‘aggression breeds aggression’. There is no point in aggravating your ferret by harming them during this situation. 
  • DO test the theory before you select an anti-nipping technique. Most ferrets will respond to verbal cues after a few biting attempts. We suggest trying one method for a few days/week before moving onto the next one.
  • DON’T lose your patience. If you’ve got a stubborn ferret in your midst, then nip training will take a toll on you. At times like these, it’s better to keep calm during the situation and try not to give up the training.  

The Final Stance 

Our training and prevention methods made us conclude that―ferrets aren’t as aggressive as you think. We simply misinterpret their signals due to which they start nipping you. All you’ve got to do is identify the issue and fix it. If that tactic doesn’t work, then you can start implementing one of our anti-nipping strategies to train your ferret.

We are confident that proper training would make your little one will understand that nipping is not accepted in your house. 

Best of luck!

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