Here’s an excerpt from our soon-to-be-released little book titled A Ferret Manuel: How to Train and Manage Your Human. It’s a humorous, ferret’s-eye view of the often comical relations between humans and pet ferrets.
So, you’ve finally acquired your very own human, have you? Good. Good for you and congratulations! It sure beats being crowded together with a bunch of total strangers in a tiny cage at the pet store, doesn’t it? But . . . while this is a great accomplishment and a first step toward a happy life in a home of your own, your job is just beginning. You have a lot of work and a long road ahead of you.
First of all, humans aren’t really very teachable. But, then, there are very few animals as inquisitive and intelligent as ferrets. That means training your human will require, in varying degrees as your unique situation demands, inventiveness, persistence, consistent application, and time.
Okay, let’s get started.
Introduction – An Overview of Human Nature
Following are the four important truths about or principles of human nature that will form the foundation of our guidelines and rules for training and managing your human. Remember these and adapt your training tactics accordingly, and you should see some success in your human-training efforts.
1. Humans are basically lazy creatures.
The thing you need to keep squarely in mind at all times is that adult humans are lazy. They don’t sleep nearly as much as we do, but they are far less active when awake. They seldom run, they don’t hide under the bed, and they never get on top of the dresser and play among the knickknacks. Even human kits (“children,” I think they call them) usually don’t play as vigorously as ferrets, and I’ve never seen one do the ferret “war dance.”
Because they are lazy, then, and slaves to the law of inertia, humans are just downright hard to train. The difficulty lies in getting them to change a behavior. For some bizarre reason, they prefer the familiar and easy to the better course. And never forget that humans just aren’t as smart as ferrets. There’s really nothing you can do about that, though.
For a human, it takes a lot of effort to learn something new and change a thinking pattern and/or a behavior. That’s why they dig in their heels and resist change: because it takes effort. Ironically, though, humans often expend more energy resisting change, owing to their inherent laziness, than they would actually making the change. (But, remember, they’re just not all that bright.) So, one of the keys to successfully training and managing your human will be persistence. You will simply have to work at it assiduously until you’ve achieved the desired results.
Just don’t give up. Success could be right around the corner.
2. Humans are incorrigible creatures of habit.
This truth about human nature is tightly bound up with the first one above. Because humans are lazy, they are also creatures of habit. They tend to keep doing the same thing the same way over and over because – well, because it’s just easier for them that way. It will take a lot of effort on your part to get your human to do something in a new and different way.
But the good news in all this is that once you’ve trained your human to engage in a certain behavior, your work is usually done with respect to that particular thing. Your human will keep doing whatever-it-is out of habit without thinking about it. While this aspect of human nature makes training your human quite a bit of work, it does mean that managing a behavior once inculcated is fairly easy.
Suppose, for example, you don’t like the food that your human has been giving you. You can’t, of course, just tell your human about it – she can’t speak our language. (Again, keep in mind that humans aren’t as clever as we are.) But after you’ve put in the necessary training effort (using some choice training tactics I’ll get to in a little bit), most of your work will be done. When your human learns to buy the kind of food you like best, she will keep doing it simply out of habit, even if she forgets the reason she started doing it in the first place. Once trained, humans are generally pretty easy to manage . . .
And here are links to our other ferret books: