There are three basic training hurdles that you have to overcome when you bring a new ferret into your home, especially if your ferret is young:

litter box training

Litter box training

Ferrets aren't drawn to their litter boxes instinctively like cats are, so you need to use treat reinforcement to keep mistakes to a minimum. Here's how to train him:

  1. Start your ferret out in a small space, such as his cage.

  2. Whenever he does the "ferret-potty dance" (spinning around and backing his rear into a corner), put him in the litter pan.

  3. After he has done his duty, give him a treat immediately.

  4. Once he gets the general idea and starts using the litter pan in his cage, place a few litter pans throughout the room where he will play. Ferrets have short attention spans, so the more litter pans, the better.

  5. If your ferret continues to use a no-potty zone, try putting some ferret food or some slept-in ferret bedding there. If the area smells more like a bedroom or a kitchen, your ferret is less likely to use it as a bathroom.

  6. Even the best-trained ferret will have a mistake here and there, so clean it up with some vinegar (the mess, not the ferret).


Almost all new ferrets will nip (bite) people, including you. First of all, know that your ferret probably isn't biting you out of anger or to hurt you. Ferrets have extremely tough skin and they play rough with each other. But if your new ferret bites you, then you have to begin nip-training immediately. Anyone who tells you to nip-train your ferret by flicking his nose or by giving him a light smack should be hung by his/her toes and subjected to Chinese water torture.

Instead, use these acceptable alternatives:

  • Spray him with a water bottle
  • Blow in his face
  • Make a loud, high-pitched "YIP!" sound (it mimics the ferret "ouch" sound)
  • Cover his face
  • Use bitter apple spray on your hands (tastes gross)
  • Give him a time-out in his cage

Never put your ferret down when he bites you. This teaches him that biting you will make you let him go. Most importantly, reward your ferret when he behaves well.


Plain and simple, ferrets love to dig. Training methods listed under nip-training might work with dig-training as well. However, we have a few more tips for some specific digging problems.

  1. Digging in the couch or bed. Ferrets can easily rip through the fabric under your bed and couch. You can try stapling a sturdier sheet under the bed or removing the bottom legs on your couch so that your ferret can't dig his way up underneath. If he insists on digging under the cushions, try wedging a long wooden board under there. Unfortunately, ferrets usually eventually outsmart their owners, so a lot of people give in and just get a futon that doesn't have an inside to dig at.

  2. Digging in food or water. If the ferret is constantly splashing around in his water dish, try using a no-leak water bottle. Food digging can be lessened by putting less food in the bowl at a time (your ferret will be less likely to play with his only meal) or use a bowl that angles inward.

  3. Digging in the litter. This is really disgusting, so you have to stop this immediately. When you go to change the litter, only put some fresh litter in the pan, and leave the rest of it dirty. Your ferret is less likely to dig in his litter if it's been used.

  4. Digging in your plants. How do you stop your ferret from digging in your plants? Take away the plants, fool! Most household plants are poisonous to ferrets, so take the plants to another room (placing them on a shelf only provides a climbing challenge for your little monkey).

Digging usually comes from boredom, so play with your ferret more if he digs excessively. You could also try providing him with some acceptable digging material like old carpet pieces or a small sandbox that he can play with in the bathtub.

Still got a problem child? Remember that patience is a virtue, and be persistent and consistent with your training methods. Like we mentioned before, never, EVER hit your ferret or flick him on the nose like some bizarre ferret manuals suggest. You don't want your ferret to fear you or to associate you with terrible things. So if you return to your bedroom to find that your ferret has dug a hole in the carpet, flick yourself on the nose and say, "I will not leave my ferret alone where he can meddle."