“Dad, can I please have a ferret?” I love my son and his great personality, but he just continued to nag me over and over again for the rest of the week. “Pleeeeeeassee Dad, I really really want a ferret!” I tried to ignore him. And then he managed to convince his sister to join in on the begging. Both of them staring up at me with their little green eyes… it was a wrap, I had been seduced!
For most of my life, I must admit that I’ve been a dog kinda guy. I like ‘man’s best friend’, yah know? As I strolled into the pet store with my kids, I was just thinking, ‘I know it won’t be the same with a ferret. I just know it.’ Oh Boy… was I ever wrong. ‘Boopey’ ended up becoming a real important part of our family, and taking a special place in my heart.
What amazed me about Boopey was his wonderful personality, limitless energy, and keen intelligence. The truth is that ferrets can be taught tricks just like a dog. The difference is that it takes more time and patience. The thing about ferrets is that they have a much smaller attention span than a dog. Their sense of urgency and curiosity is immense, always commanding them to ‘KEEP EXPLORING, KEEP EXPLORING.’ Keeping that in mind, never try to teach your ferret a trick in an unfamiliar area. They will be so overcome with the need to explore that they won’t be able to pay attention to you.
So let’s talk about teaching your little ferret to come to you on command. First, get yourself a bunch of squeaky objects, preferably toys of some sort. Sit down with your little buddy and squeeze all of them once. Pay attention to your ferret as you squeeze each one. Eventually, you will discover one specific ‘squeezy’ that your ferret especially likes. That’s part 1. Now, whenever you call out your ferret, (‘Boopey’ for example), do so as you squeeze the ‘squeezy’. AND, reward your ferret with a treat (a snack for instance). Over time, your ferret will learn to come to you just by the sound of the ‘squeezy’.
The bottom line is that it takes a lot of patience and consistency to teach your ferret. And, whereas we teach our young, it is a little different with ferrets. Very young ferrets are so full of energy that it is nearly impossible to teach them anything. You have to wait until your ferret matures a little bit. Once ready, start training and never give up. Reward their behavior. Be patient, and remember, it is possible!