Dogs come from wolves, which are known to be some of the most dangerous predators. This means that their predatory gene is still there and it can always kick in. On the other hand, ferrets are quite small and incapable of defending themselves against bigger dogs.
But despite being natural enemies in the wilderness, they can actually become best friends in your home. However, it all depends on both of their personalities and how much work you’re willing to put into getting them used to one another. It’s not usually easy, but it definitely pays off in the end.
In this article, we’ll talk about the relationship between dogs and ferrets and whether they can co-exist in your home happily with one another.
Can dogs and ferrets live together?
Dogs are typically the real social butterflies of the family. They’re very active, energetic, and ready to be friends with anyone. On the other hand, ferrets can be quite unpredictable when it meets new animals as they only form deep bonds with each other. So it will take a while to get them used to one another.
You should never even attempt to introduce them if the dog is known to chase and kill rabbits, cats, and other small animals within the size range of the ferret. Or if the ferret is a rescue that has been terrorized by dogs, you should make sure the dog won’t make it inside the room you keep your ferret in.
But if you manage to get them used to one another, you will quickly notice that they will start chasing each other around the house and create a real disaster anywhere they play. It will take lots of patience and focus as you need to know exactly what both animals feel at all times. This will help you separate them before they start fighting.
Besides being kept as pets, ferrets are also kept by rabbit exterminators as they do a great job catching rabbits. This means that dogs and ferrets can also make a great team out on the field. Typically, the ferret gets the rabbit out of its hole, and the dog catches it if it escapes from the net.
But despite seeming to be the best of friends, it’s still highly recommended to not leave them alone, unsupervised. You never know when a fight between these two could start. Dogs typically love their toys, while ferrets are natural thieves and might manage to steal a few toys from the dog.
Make sure you’re always close enough to stop a fight between these two and that you always have a towel around so you won’t get bitten during the separation. Never put your hand between them when they’re trying to bite each other as they will bite you before they even realize what happened.
How to introduce dogs and ferrets for the first time
If either or both of them are very territorial, it’s highly recommended to introduce them on neutral ground and move very slowly from there. This includes a room where neither of them has ever been in. If you don’t have one, choose a more secluded room and start disinfecting it and getting rid of all the strange smells.
Place the ferret in its cage while the dog remains on its leash for the entire period of time. Keep them far away from one another but close enough to see each other. If one of them gets aggressive, starts hissing/barking, or just runs away, then it’s enough for one day.
After they get used to seeing each other in the room, you can start by letting the ferret roam the room for a little bit. And the closer it gets to the dog, the more on-spot you need to be. Make sure you have a big towel or gloves next to you so you can easily catch the aggressor before it mites or scratches.
The process of getting them to know one another can last anywhere between a few days to a few weeks, and sometimes even more. It’s very important to not rush anything and continuously speak with a calm and warm voice while they’re getting to know each other.
When they can finally stay in the same room without the need for an extra cage or leash, you should stay in the middle of them and continue to talk in a sweet and calm voice. It’s important to show them that the other is also part of the family.
If one of them is very violent and won’t accept the other in any way, you might want to give up on trying to befriend them. Some animals like each other from the first second they met, while others know that they’re going to hate each other for life from the first second as well.
This means that you will either have to give up on one of the pets or create special spaces around the house for them and make sure they never meet. But this requires a quite large house as both creatures need their space and love playing around as much as possible.
If you want to learn more about ferrets, and what it takes to live with them, one valuable resource I can recommend is GoFerrets.com.
Signs that they’re not getting along
During the introduction, it’s best to have someone to help you out, and both of you should pay attention to each move they make. This will help you catch any signs that they don’t like each other before it escalates to a fight. Use a thick towel to catch the ferret and place it back in its cage. This will ensure that you won’t have to deal with any bites or scratches.
If your dog is drooling, sniffing, panting, shaking, nipping, has its ears up, the pupils dilated, its teeth exposed, and its back hair is on the edge, you know for sure your dog is considering the ferret as food and not as a friend.
And if the ferret starts hissing, arching its back, puffing its tail, getting its ears up, and it looks for a way out of the room, you know the ferret doesn’t like the dog either. Ferrets consider their cages their safe haven, so they might even bolt back into the cage and hide until the dog is gone.