aking walks with your ferret can be a fun and enriching experience for both you and your ferret. However, you can't just slip a harness and leash on your ferret and take off for an afternoon in the park. Before ever venturing outside, you must train your ferret to wear and feel comfortable with a harness and leash. Below we will discuss how you can do this and how to translate that training into safe outdoor fun!
It will take a few weeks for her to feel truly comfortable. Older ferrets may take longer if they have never worn a harness before. Never allow her to wear the harness in her cage or when you are not there to supervise her; she could get it caught on something and injure herself.
The best harness to use is an H-style harness, like the Marshall Ferret Harness. Never use a collar - your ferret could easily slip out of it. Figure-8 style harnesses are also not preferred because they can be too loose on one side while squeezing your ferret painfully on the other side. Make sure the harness is made from nylon, and avoid Velcro® closures that your ferret could easily escape from. Plastic buckles are most comfortable, since metal buckles can get hot in the sun.
After a few sessions, hold onto the end of the leash, but don't try to direct her or restrain her in any way. After a few more sessions, you can start restraining her by slightly tugging her away from areas you don't want her to go. After a number of sessions in this manner, you can start providing gentle guidance. Never jerk the leash as you could hurt her or frighten her.
It's important to understand that the point of leash training is not to teach your ferret to heel like a dog. It is not in a ferret's nature to walk along obediently at your side. They like to explore, so the point of leash training is to keep your ferret safe while exploring outdoors, not to restrict her movement in any way.
When training indoors and allowing your ferret to drag the leash around behind her, use a regular lead. Once you move outdoors, you can use a retractable lead if you prefer to give your ferret more room to roam.
No matter how long it takes for you and your ferret to start taking walks, always take it at your ferret's pace and always keep safety first!