How to Stop My Ferret From Biting
Most animal enthusiasts are not thrilled at the prospect of being potentially bitten by their furry companion. Ferrets commonly nip their owners. This behavior does not occur without reason. Often it is an effort to communicate with their care handler. In other words, it can be a signal to gain attention. It could also simply be the animal’s way of playing.
Determine the ferret’s motivation
first. That is the key to success with curbing the undesirable behavior.
If fear within the animal is the reason for the biting, disciplining them with punishments could ultimately prove itself to be counterproductive. The solution to the problem is to earn the animal’s trust. This result can occur by rewarding calm behavior with treats and playful pets. Depending on how strong their fear proves to be, physical petting may take more time to achieve. Don't be discouraged by this scenario.
The other type of biting can come from their desire to play. There are several ways this problem can be taken care of from a training perspective.
Discipline does not mean to physically hit or harm the animal. What we recommend is simply a soft approach that targets the undesirable behavior and discourage the ferret from committing it again. The strategy is Pavlovian in nature, which is the method we’re recommending. The goal is to condition the ferret in a way to dissuade biting. There are several approaches an owner can utilize to achieve this result for their furry companion.
One way to implement a helpful discipline approach is by scruffing the ferret's neck. Like a cat, ferrets have loose skin located on the back of their necks. If they bite, simply grab onto this loose skin and hold them at a distance. Give them a firm “no” and let them go.
Please do not yell at the ferret. Shouting can provoke fear. Fear is not the same thing as discipline. Creating a hostile environment can set back the training progress with the ferret.
The key is to be consistent with the discipline. That’s what the point of the Pavlovian approach is: to teach the ferret that the undesirable nipping will have consequences each time they bite. This feedback will help dissuade the problematic behavior.
While time-outs are usually associated with children, it can be used as a conditioning method for a pet ferret as well. This method works if the owner has another cage they can place the ferret inside of for the discipline.
Do not leave the ferret in the cage for longer than a few minutes. A ferret can be conditioned to become comfortable within their confinement if left inside for too long. This rule applies if they fall asleep as well. Their brain can make a positive association between what equates to nap time and biting.
The goal of a time-out is to place the ferret somewhere unfamiliar. Leave the animal in the environment long enough to be uncomfortable, and then let them out of the strange territory.
One way to stop the biting is to create an unpleasant sensation through taste. There are safe sprays with a bitter taste that the prospective owner can purchase. Simply coat the area they are biting, such as a human hand, with the spray. The foul taste can motivate the ferret to cease the behavior.
We need to emphasis this point: Please do not spray the ferret itself. Spraying the ferret directly could scare them, and they rely on the biting as a defense mechanism. We want to condition the animal to be obedient, not worsen problematic behaviors.
Another approach is to focus on what they can bite versus what they can’t bite. Toys can make for a great distraction for the ferret; they also make for excellent teaching tools for differentiating between what they are supposed to bite versus what is forbidden.
If hands are the primary concern, and the ferret is fond of playing rough, remove the hands and only make the toy available. Over time they will learn to distinguish the two.
Please check to make sure the toy you use is safe for the ferret. A mishap with the wrong toy can translate to an expensive trip to the veterinarian. We recommend doing research on this matter; this website
is a good starting point if you possess concerns on choosing a safe chew toy for your furry friend.
So if you want to know how to stop my ferret from biting, you need to focus on identifying the factor that is driving the behavior in question. Once a determination has been made, simply start exercising consistency with the ferret. This consistency is what will help stop the problem with their biting.
Whether it is subbing your hands out for toys they can chew, scruffing the ferret's neck, using a time-out method or bitter tasting sprays, the animal can have the opportunity to learn the appropriate behavior.
Above all else, we strongly recommend not to engage in physically aggressive punishments with the ferret. Physically aggressive punishments include spraying them, yelling at them or hitting them. Violence only begets more violence and has the potential to hinder the training progress that will help stop the biting behavior.
By following these conditioning methods, you will improve the relationship between yourself and your chewy companion.