Ferret harnesses are one of those essential pieces of equipment no ferret should be without. It’s the only way to safely take your pet for a walk. A collar is fine around the house, but it’s far too easy for a ferret to wriggle out of one. If your ferret gets loose outdoors and takes off, you will likely lose it. Ferrets don’t have the sense of where home is that dogs and cats do, so they cannot find their way back to you. Most ferrets that get lost end up as food for a larger animal or are picked up by a shelter, if they are lucky enough not to starve to death.
Safety & Ferret Harnesses
The use of ferret harnesses can prevent such a terrible fate from befalling your pet. There are several kinds on the market, and some are easier to use than others. The best and most reliable harness is one made of flat nylon or leather bands that form an H-shape. One band serves as a collar, with a second band fitting around the ferret’s body behind the front legs. A third band connects the two over the ferret’s back and is usually where the loop for the leash is located. Fasteners are generally plastic slide clips, but may be made of Velcro or even buckles.
Fitting The Harness Properly
The most important aspect of ferret harnesses is that they are properly fitted to your pet. Connect the collar portion of the harness first, then test the fit by sliding your pinky finger under the band. Your finger should just fit. If there is more room for your finger than that, you need to tighten the band. Connect the band around your pet’s body and do the same test for fit. It may be tricky to get the fit right at first, because your ferret is not going to be thrilled about being strapped into one of these contraptions. Expect your pet to fuss, cry, squirm and fight to get out of the harness, but it will get used to the thing. Put your pet in the harness for a little while each day, or a few times a day, so it can get accustomed to wearing it. Going for a walk when your ferret is still fighting the harness just isn’t going to work.
Ferret harnesses only keep your pet safe if used properly. In addition to fit, you’ll need to check the loop where the leash is attached to make sure everything is where it is supposed to be and the hooks are closed completely. With as fast as a ferret can disappear, safe is definitely better than sorry. Don’t expect your pet to instantly get the hang of walking beside you. Go slow and take plenty of time to correct your pet when it wants to run in front of you, around you, or between your feet. Your ferret is never going to walk as sedately as a well-trained dog, but if you take your time, you can teach it to go for a walk without tripping you.
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