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Ferret FAQ [2/5] - Ferret Care
Section - (4.7) Will my ferret get along with my other pets?

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Most ferrets don't get along with birds, fish, rabbits, rodents,
lizards, and the like, though there are some exceptions.  For a dog or
cat, patience is the most important part of the introduction.  Give
the new animal a chance to get used to you and your home before
introducing it to the other pets one at a time, very slowly.

Cats

Cats are generally less dangerous than dogs, simply because of their
size.  For the first week or so, hold both the cat and the ferret (two
humans is handy here) and just let them smell each other a few times a
day.  Over the next week or two, gradually give each animal a bit more
freedom, watching them closely, until they're used to each other.
Once you're convinced that they're used to each other and get along
all right, let them interact freely, but supervise them for a while to
be sure.  Make sure the ferret has an escape route, a barrier the cat
can't get through or a safe hiding place.

It's generally believed that ferrets get along with cats better if
they're introduced when the cat is still a kitten and is more willing
to play, but there are plenty of exceptions.  The same is probably
true of dogs.

Dogs

[The following information on dogs and ferrets comes from Marie I. Schatz.]

(1) First, do some work training the dog.  Buy a dog training book, go
to beginning obedience school (this should be something you do
anyway).  You want the dog to listen to your commands without fail.

(2) Try putting the dog in a carrier or crate (modified so the ferrets
can't slip through) and let them run around the room while he watches.
Interact with the ferrets so he knows they're part of the "pack".

(3) Hold the dog very firmly, with your hand right under his muzzle,
while you let the ferrets run around and sniff him.  Give LOTS and
LOTS of encouragement to the dog and make loving noises over the
ferrets.  The ferrets are going to want to nibble his feet and jump at
his face - try not to let this happen (two people will help).  If the
dog snaps at the ferrets, even with your hand right there, you won't
have enough time to react.  (Swift, loud assertive NO!'s right away if
this happens.)  So you may want to invest in an inexpensive cloth
muzzle.  You can't keep a muzzle on the dog long since he won't be
able to pant, and it will tend to stress out the dog.  I used one for
the first couple of 10 minute intro's - still holding the dog.

(4) If the dog seems to be doing well, i.e. fairly low prey and chase
drive with good bite inhibition - put a leash on the dog when you
finally get to the point where they are loose together.  Stay close.
You may want to use the muzzle again for the first time.  The leash
will allow a faster grab if the dog starts to chase the ferrets.

(5) Do the "advanced" stage introductions in a room where there are
lots of places for the ferret to get under or hide, or create some in
the room temporarily.

(6) If things work out reinforce by giving treats to the ferrets
first, then the dog - reinforce that the dog is lower in the pecking
order.

(7) No matter how good things get, NEVER leave the dog's toys, rawhide
chews, etc. lying around.  The ferret will naturally want to
investigate and hide them, and no matter how good the dog is it's just
asking for trouble.

(8) You should also try feeding the dog separately, when the ferrets
aren't around.

All any of this does is allow you to ascertain what kind of prey drive
your dog has, without risking the ferrets too much.  If the dog has a
low prey drive and good bite inhibition and is just playful it should
be apparent, and all this may be unnecessary or go relatively fast.
If the dog does seem to have a very high prey drive, try a different
older dog.  Sometimes rescue groups can help with this as the foster
homes may know a little about the dog's personality.

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5. *** Getting ready for your ferret ***

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Top Document: Ferret FAQ [2/5] - Ferret Care
Previous Document: (4.6) How do I introduce a new ferret to my established one(s)?
Next Document: (5.1) How can I best ferretproof my home? What do I need to

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Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:12 PM