If you have experienced a ferret’s companionship, you’d know that there is nothing more adorable and amusing than playing with one of those critters. They are extremely friendly when you bond with them, and they make for a great pet if you know how to take care of them.
They could be friendly with humans and others of their species. Many people say they do good with cats too, but can they be the same with dogs?
Can a ferret and a dog get along, play together, and truly bond?
The answer to this question is simple, but the process of getting there is a bit more complicated. Put short and straight: yes, they can, but only after careful supervision and training.
In the majority of cases, dogs and ferrets will not become friends at first sight. The animals’ personalities, backgrounds, breeds, and instincts all play a critical role in their relationship.
Why are supervision and training necessary
A variety of issues can arise when dealing with those two species. From hunting or territorial instincts acting up, to play that isn’t entirely ferret-safe, you’ll need to make sure that both of your animals are healthy and happy.
Before you attempt introducing them to one another, there are a few things you should be mindful of:
Consider attitudes and personalities.
Some animals are friendly and accepting in general; others tend to keep to themselves and are more territorial. Both dogs and ferrets can get stressed out by the presence of a new creature. Think about how your pets may react to one another.
Learn everything you can about their backgrounds
If either the dog or the ferret has been mistreated in the past, you can imagine they’d be a bit more anxious and worried in new situations. Animals can experience trauma just like us, humans.
When you have an anxious or protective animal, you need to approach any new situation with care. Look further down in this article to find information on how to ensure that a dog and a ferret will have a happy and healthy relationship.
Look into the dog’s breed.
Many dogs have strong hunting instincts because of their breed, and, to many, a ferret may seem like prey. Make sure you will not put your ferrets in danger.
Some dogs such as Terriers, Spaniels, other hunting dogs as well as guard dogs will, instinctively, be more likely to bite or jump on a ferret than other breeds like Corgies, Doxies, Pomeranians or chihuahuas.
Puppies and kits are more likely to get along than their adult versions. There is less chance for the dog to accidentally hurt the ferret, and both of them will be playful.
Keep in mind that young animals aren’t of the most careful. Supervise their interactions, no matter how well they get along. Usually, youngsters aren’t as good at controlling their bites in play.
If the chances of your pets getting along seem slim, don’t give up yet. Consider what you can do to help them get along.
How to make sure a dog and a ferret will get along
- Before you introduce them to one another, make sure that they both have personal space. Have sturdy gates or closed doors in between; make sure your ferret’s cage is secure, so the ferret can’t escape, and the dog isn’t able to scare or hurt them.
- Train the dog to answer to commands before the introduction. Teach them not to chase or bite and learn to take their attention away from whatever they may be interested in. In the same way, teach your ferret not to bite in play, a dog could get annoyed by the constant nibbling. This will allow you greater control over the situation.
- Get comfortable with the animals yourself. If you are not calm around one of the animals, the other may sense that and get on their toes as well.
Handle initial introductions slowly
Before you begin, get two people; one should be in charge of ONE dog, the other in charge of one to two ferrets. Your ultimate goal in this stage is to keep their interactions safe.
Don’t simply drop them in the same room and expect things to go smoothly. Start introducing them by letting them observe each other from a distance; show them both that the other is part of the family.
When they have become calm and comfortable, allow them to approach and sniff their new buddy. Ideally, the animals should associate the new member of the family only with positive things. Play with them and give them both treats to make those connections.
Watch out for signs of discomfort
Always supervise interactions between the dog and the ferret. Be very aware of what’s going on between your animals. Even if in the beginning they seem to be doing fine, a new, unexpected situation can occur. One of them may get carried away or upset, and you’ll have a mess on your hands.
While observing them interact, watch out for signs of discomfort. Both animals will show whether they are comfortable or not in a situation. If one of them isn’t, step in and sort the issue out.
Make sure your ferret always has an escape route available. Ferrets hide when they are uncomfortable, so they can show you they are not happy with the interaction by fleeing. In case of failure in taking control of the situation, an escape route for your ferret may prove crucial.
Sharing living quarters and you
Both ferrets and dogs form strong bonds with their owners and take ownership of their territory. You shouldn’t make them feel they need to fight for you or their personal space — this may lead to conflicts.
Always pay attention to them; don’t allow them to become jealous of the other pet. Furthermore, don’t make them share toys. You don’t want any fights on the basis of territory and possessions.
Another thing to keep in mind is that many dog toys are not ferret-safe, but the dookers love to steal stuff. Avoid giving them access to a dog’s toys. The same goes for food, dogs are omnivores like humans, and their treats are often not good for ferrets.
The bottom line is that you shouldn’t let the two species run around alone, especially in the early stages of their friendship. They are most likely not going to become best buddies right away. Make sure you are keeping an eye out when you are there and be ready to deal with any hostility from either side. You don’t want their relationship ruined; you don’t want your animals to hate each other.
Not all dog breeds are instinctively drawn to be a ferret’s friend. However, most are playful and ferrets bond by playing. They thrive on excitement; they need to explore and interact with their environment and those in it. With a bit of effort on your part, they can build a durable (and adorable) relationship.
I assure you that the trouble is worth it because when the two species establish a friendship, they can get along really well. They can enjoy each other’s company and even play together when you aren’t able to pay them attention.
If you already have a dog and are planning on adding a dooker to your home, consider educating yourself on how to take care of a ferret.