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I have three ferrets. I bought a small harness from Petco similar to this one

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But I've had no luck getting it on them.

I've tried slipping it on while they're distracted (chewing something or licking Ferretone). But as soon as they notice they immediately flip out and start fighting to get it off. They always manage to squeeze out.

  • The fact that they don't show it on a real animal may be a clue... – keshlam Dec 31 '15 at 6:12
  • @keshlam I've seen pictures on Instagram of people with ferrets with this leash. Is there another style that would work better? – skyandemilia Dec 31 '15 at 19:35
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Getting them accustomed to the harness isn't an overnight task. Whenever you have them out of their enclosure, make sure to put it on and give them a treat when you do it so they associate the harness with good things. When they start to wiggle out of it, you can try scruffing them before they succeed to discourage the behavior. The important thing is to be consistent with everything you do with them, which requires close attention.

I have four ferrets and I've tried to train them for harnesses in the past but they didn't really get the idea. So I gave up with it. If they're not getting it, they may just not be good for the harness.

I'm assuming walks outside are the end-game and there's just a couple of things to keep in mind there. Make sure they have their distemper vaccine if you're walking them in an area where they can meet dogs or dogs might be. Don't walk them on grassy areas that have been treated recently as they are more sensitive to the chemicals than larger animals. And concrete has the potential to damage their foot pads.

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I can finally answer my own question.

It helps that they are older now and less psycho.

What finally worked was:

  1. slip it on when she's half asleep
  2. make sure it's even tighter than I thought necessary so she can't wiggle out
  3. take her outside immediately so that she's distracted and preoccupied with exploring instead of escaping the harness
  4. lots of treats!

That was the first successful attempt. On later attempts I could put it on her while she was awake as long I was firm but gentle.

Then I always made sure to take her outside immediately, both for the distraction and for positive reinforcement that the leash means exploration time! Now she accepts it without struggling.

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