How to Walk a Ferret – Tips and Leash Training

Q: Can I walk my ferret on a leash and harness? If so, how do I walk him?

A: Yes it’s possible to walk ferrets on leashes/harnesses. Do ferrets like being walked from time to time on a harness and leash?  It quite depends on the ferret’s personality. I’ve walked mine before, although they aren’t real big on the walks (they hate their harnesses and lots of the outside noises, particularly automobiles, scare them).

You simply have to be careful when walking a ferret:

  1. Make sure they can’t slip away from their harness
  2. Pick the ferret up if you see a bigger creature coming your way
  3. Ensure the ferret isn’t eating stuff (plants, trash, whatever) that might make him sick.
  4. You’ll actually have to train them (inside the home) to the harness and the leash:
  5. Begin by putting the harness on them; you’ll notice that they freak out and act like they’re dying.
  6. Once they forget the harness, clip around the lead.
  7. Get a harness, not a collar–ferrets slip out of a collar too easily!  Make it tight, and test it indoors to make sure the ferret can’t get away.
  8. Try out your own new harness in the pet store (most stores should let you), keep him inside til he gets used to it and stops trying to get it off (if he can get out re-fit it or buy another.)
  9. Stay in a ferret safe region under supervision.
  10. Seek out a park/field/forrest region that looks protected and keep a look out for dogs.
  11. Public bathrooms are normally ferret safe and need the least work.
  12. Don’t let them wander outside by themselves, even off-leash.

Have somebody else with you when your ferret is exploring. That way you’ll have two people to watch the ferret, so you can take a break, and if he escapes his leash you will be able to catch him easier.

They’re able to walk on a lead and harness happily and also enjoy walks, but the ferret walker should be patient when lead by the ferret on an excruciatingly slow walk.

When you let them explore outside, don’t let them go into bushes, because they use that to twist up their leash and wiggle out of it (and you really don’t want that.)

Best Harnesses for Ferrets

Note: they sell leash/harnesses combinations specifically made for ferrets and I have seen them cost as low as $2. Get an adjustable harness/vest sort of “collar” and get a ferret used to it early in it’s lifetime.

The two I have tried that work are Marshalls ferret harness and leash combo (or like brands) and Super Pets harness with stretchy leash. If you are looking for a good harness, my escape artists have yet to get away from these harnesses. All those harnesses are designed to allow them to safely roam out doors, though you still have control of where they go, so they tend not to get loose and run away.

See to it that it’s made for ferrets and not those tiny rope like things with a clasp around the back region; they do get away from those!  These are generally marketed for ferrets, but aren’t beneficial to leash training – they might be good for an older or more practiced ferret, though for a particularly active one NO!

Ferret Leash Tightness

Ferrets are crafty, and are likely to slip out from a leash or harness unless it’s fitted tight.

If you are planning on walking a ferret, be certain that you do the harness up close so they can’t slip off, as they can conveniently fit down drains, but don’t make it so tight as to strangle them.

If your ferret is extremely tiny (1 lb or so) it can be overwhelming to place her on a harness and make sure that is stays on.   Don’t make it too tight–verify that the ferret is walking normally.

It’s a fine line between tight and not really tight enough, so exercise inside and also discover the right fit.

Bottom line: just verify the harness is actually tight enough that they can’t get out. Put a new harness on her while you’re there let her out.

Go to a brand new place for her to explore, and she might not notice the harness.

Although, most ferrets can be trained to accept a harness, particularly while they’re young, as it’s exciting to see see the area outside of your home.

Tips on walking your ferret:

  • Put a collar or a harness together with an identification tag on it for your ferret when you travel.
  • Keep your ferret on your shoulder. Yes, you can keep a ferret on the ground whilst in a busy region, but they might make an effort  to wriggle free that is the reason why it’s likely best to place them on your own shoulder unless you trust the ferret 100% to not jump off.
  • If your ferret does get off it’s leash, don’t panic.
  • If you do take them out for the first time on a leash, don’t go for more than 5 minutes or so, their legs are little and they could hurt their joints.
  • If your ferret goes outside, guarantee that he is getting anual rabbies shots.
  • It’s not essential to walk them, assuming that they get adequate exercise at home etc, but if your ferret likes it, why not?.

Ferrets need exercise, so if you do not have the area to let the ferret out to play, don’t get one. They can get all of the exercise they want tearing about in their own (ferret-proofed) home! Not surprisingly, if you want you may take them for walks.

Together with a ferret sized harness and training, it is possible to take them out for a stroll.  They’ll ultimately come to enjoy their time outside with you. But if you actually have the proper harness and the weather is great, there shouldn’t be a problem. Prepare not to get  a lot exercise yourself, though, except for running and stopping behind your walking ferret.

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