Dogs are one of the most popular pets in the world and ferrets, for their part, are gaining more and more popularity as pets each day. If you want to have both animals in your household, you will be glad to hear that it is possible. Dogs and ferrets can get along, but with supervision. Let’s dig deeper into what to expect from this unique household combination.
Can All Ferrets Live With All Dogs?
Ferrets can live with dogs, but there are rules you have to follow regarding a dog’s personality, breed, and age. Here are some criteria one must consider before combining a dog with a ferret.
Avoid Hunting Dogs
Some dog breeds and ferrets are not a good combination due to the dog’s nature. Hunting dogs like Terriers, Pointers, Setters, etc. probably won’t get along with a ferret. Also, if you own a dog with high prey instinct, no matter the breed, it is not a smart idea to combine it with a ferret. In those two cases, due to the ferret’s size, a dog can confuse a ferret with prey and attack it.
Avoid Introducing Old or Sick Pets
If there is an old or a sick pet in your household, you should think about this situation hard. Most old pets aren’t interested in younger ones, they tend to ignore them. So, if you introduce a young animal to the old one and you can see that the old one isn’t interested, stop with the introduction. The young animal can cause stress to the older one simply by jumping around it or inviting it to play. A younger, more hyper ferret may also irritate an older dog and cause it to lash out.
How To Introduce Dogs and Ferrets
The most important thing you can do in a relationship between a ferret and a dog is to gradually introduce them. Their introduction should last a couple of days and they should always be supervised, no matter how well they take to each other. Their first meeting should be on neutral grounds so that they don’t need to feel like they have to defend their territory. Here are the steps you can do to introduce your ferret and a dog properly:
1. Let Them Be Near One Another
Put your ferret in a cage and let the dog come near the cage so they can smell each other. You can leash your dog for this step since you don’t know how he will react in the first few minutes. Give them time to smell each other and if you see any sign of aggression, stop the introduction and try again later. If they are relaxed or curious around each other, you can go to the next step. Make sure you keep an eye on the dog since it can do much more damage if triggered.
2. Remove The Cage
This is a step where both animals smell each other without a barrier between them. Ask a family member to hold your dog by the collar and the leash (leave the leash on the dog) and you can grab the ferret. Hold your ferret in your arms and come near the dog so he can see and smell the ferret. You can start with a 20-inch distance and slowly get closer and closer to the dog. Look at your dog’s reaction every step of the way. If you see any sign of aggression or fear, abort and go back to Step 1. If both parties remain calm, you can stay like that for a minute or so, then go to the next step.
3. Put The Ferret On The Ground
Now it is time to see how your dog reacts with a ferret on the floor. But, before you do that, place a box or a tunnel near the ferret. That can be an escape route for a ferret if things go badly because a dog won’t be able to follow the ferret through a small hole. Now that the ferret is on the floor, keep the dog leashed and watch his posture. If the dog is alert, keep him under your supervision and react if needed. If the dog is relaxed or playfully curious, still keep him under supervision, but simply observe.
4. Remove The Leash
If your dog and ferret act OK around each other, you can remove the leash from the dog. Keep the tunnel or the box on the floor for the ferret, but you don’t have to intervene in any other way—unless things go very south. The only thing you need to do now is to observe their behavior, keep them under your supervision and let them form their own relationship.
Related Read: Can Ferrets Eat Dog Food? What You Need to Know!
If your dog and your ferret get along very well from the moment they’ve met, that is great. But, that doesn’t mean you can leave them unsupervised. A dog and a ferret should always be under your supervision to keep them both safe for many different reasons.
Issues With Big Dogs
If you own a big dog that loves ferrets, you have to keep them supervised because something as silly as a game of chase can be dangerous for a ferret. A big dog can accidentally step, sit, or even lay on a ferret, which will result in an injury. Your ferret could break any bone, including its spine. In this situation, your supervision can mean life or death for your ferret.
Also, no matter how good they are together, every pet can be triggered. If a dog bites a ferret, even as part of a game, that can be bad for a ferret. By keeping them under supervision, you can prevent an innocent game from escalating to something much more serious. Remember, only a minute is enough for an accident to happen.
What If They Don’t Get Along?
Every pet has a unique personality so there is always a chance that they will not get along. If that happens, no matter how long they coexisted peacefully before, you should keep them apart at all times after any big incident. If you have space, you can set one room to be a “ferret room” that is forbidden for the dog. If you don’t have a spare room, then you should organize your home that way to keep your ferret safe at all times. What you have to do is remove the dog from the room when a ferret is released from the cage. When a ferret sleeps, you can keep him in the cage and let the dog in the room again.
One of the reasons why we love dogs is that they are filled with love and curiosity. Most dogs aren’t aggressive, and they will get along just fine with ferrets. But accidents can happen, so no matter how good your ferret and dogs are at playing together, keep them under your supervision at all times.
Featured Image Credit: Couperfield, Shutterstock