Photographers – 2 Recommended Orange County Public Parks

Orange County has a number of great locations for photographing a family, engaged couple or senior portraits. This article takes a look at two of the best. Both have their advantages and a few disadvantages.

1. Irvine Regional Park. Irvine Regional is located in Orange at the heart of Orange County. The advantage to this location is there are a number of activities from which to create a beautiful, diverse set of images. If you are shooting a family shoot, you can take pictures of the kids on horseback. There is a lake with trees which make for a beautiful setting to get a formal portrait. There are also some rustic old buildings which make for a beautiful vintage backdrop (images in front of these backdrops turn out beautiful when vintage or black and white actions are run against them).

The main disadvantage to this location is you need to pay to get in. The parking is modest – $6 or $7. However, in addition to the parking you need to pay for each activity you want to include in your session. Shots on horseback and trains will of course require payment -as will any shots you want to get in the zoo. It is of course free to shoot in front of the lack and on any of the grassy areas.

Overall, Irvine Regional Park is a terrific location for photographing families, engagements, pets, and High School Seniors.

2. Tewinkle Park. Tewinkle Park is a newly renovated park located in Costa Mesa. The first positive for this locations is that it is free. The second is the diversity of shots that can be taken in this location. This location consists of hills, ponds, trees, streams, ponds and play grounds. If your client wants to get some actions shots, there are horseback riding facilities next door. Or, of an equestrian theme is not your client’s cup of tea, there is a skateboarding park and tennis courts (high school seniors often want shots of themselves participating in the activity they enjoy).

Orange County has a number of diverse locations for portrait photography. However, if the beach shots are not what your client is seeking, Irvine Regional Park and Tewinkle Park are good, relatively inexpensive options.

How to Keep Your Dog From Running Away Plus How to Build a Very Cosy (Free) Pet Bed

How the big four commands save lives

According to the National Health Service and media reports, over 4,500 incidents a year in the U.K. involve dogs and people, with children being the biggest victim group.. You are more likely to be bitten by a dog than win the lottery!

One incident is an unwelcome statistic but until you accept that your pet dog runs away because you let it these incidents are going to continue to occur. There are 5 basic steps, 4 big commands and 3 essential pieces of equipment which you need to learn how to use effectively to gain control and to build discipline into your dog. This guide explains how to do this and how to stop your dog running away. A collar and lead are working instruments of control, just the same as holding your child’s hand. Mobile phones are another safety device we use with our children to maintain contact and for a much safer and secure environment. Our dogs are no less important and are at a higher statistical risk than our children. Your voice alone is not going to be enough. Whistling is hard work and it assumes your dog finds the whistle more compelling than what is at the end of its nose. You must start to appreciate that stopping your pet running away is a skill to be learned and developed on an on going basis, and like people, the input of patience and unconditional love, will very likely be paid back. The probability is that if your children are model children then your dog probably will be too, but that doesn’t mean it is going to be easy to train, it just means you probably have the mindset and determination to keep your dog safe and disciplined. I admit this article may be a bit controversial but the techniques work and will not harm or hurt your dog. Neglect and ignorance is a much bigger killer. If you want to stop your dog running away there are 3 things your must achieve:

  • Instant response
  • Your dog’s whole and undivided attention
  • Complete obedience

You need to understand that there are 3 reasons why your dog will run away:-

  1. Sex
  2. Cruelty
  3. Owner mismanagement

All three of the reasons as stated above can get your dog killed or seriously injured. If you then overlay lack of success with the 3 disciplinary aspects you have serious issues to deal with and you need to correct this quickly or risk your dog causing death or serious injury. The end result will be the loss of your pet by lethal injection, gunshot or fatal injuries. If minors are involved and they are your own family it will destroy not only your life but that of your entire family. This is how I see it anyway and it is this that motivates me to get it right. Your pet running off is not to be taken lightly. I propose to examine a few simple helpful hints that might make your life more bearable and improve your relationship with the animal at a level you can both appreciate and work on to good effect. I am going to ignore the first two reasons that cause running away. If you need guidance to deal with them please give your dog to a loving home, this article is not for you. Your dog is born with senses which once engaged are so compelling that you pale into insignificance the minute they are engaged. You don’t need to be a dog whisperer to understand this, but you can see it for yourself the minute you call your dog back. It is not a great moment when your dog embarrasses you for your inability to handle it. I think one year in a dog’s life is about 6.5 of our years, so by the end of year one your dog should be starting to make out sounds, short sentence structures and words. The four most important commands in order are:

  1. sit
  2. heal
  3. down
  4. stay

Dogs are quick learners. Not only do they know your mood, they take everything right to the edge all the time and they are also very persistent. The sooner you start teaching them the better, try to make it fun without finishing up with a fat dog. Remember your children should not be force fed a big McDonalds every time they get their table manners right and The National Hedgehog Road Skills award has never been won by a hedgehog. A lead is the equivalent of your child’s hand. You communicate through it just the same way. You would not let your child pull you off your feet, especially on a main road, so use the same discipline with your dog.

Step 1. It is always your fault

I really don’t think that Springer Spaniels with their long floppy ears can hear you properly over 30 metres away unless you really shout which makes you look in control doesn’t it. When I was younger I had a liver and white springer ‘Bramble’. He never knew to this day what hit him when he was busy rounding up sheep. I would have been able to play for the British Lions with a rugby tackle like that, the dog went flying, not in the least bit hurt, just caught in the act. He yelped just with fright, but never chased sheep again and after this incident if he could hear me he responded instantly to all the big 4 commands.

Step 2. How to stop your dog pulling you off your feet.

A sharp and very hard tug on the lead pulling your dog back behind you will do the trick. After the second or third time they will desist. This is obviously easier to do when your St. Bernard is a puppy, which is why i say start straight away. Bad habits are developed by the owners not the dogs. Never allow your dog to pull. Start by holding your dog’s hand (the lead) and work firmly in a disciplined and in a fair way, and reward good performance and discipline and work on behaviour that falls short. Little and often is good and a routine is helpful. The thing that really gets results is patience. You would not take your child out into a distracting environment to teach them so don’t do it to your dog either. Get the dog’s attention and eye contact and progress will improve. If you are having trouble getting the dog’s attention increase the treat value e.g. fillet steak. This is about hearts and minds and developing absolute trust. The time to use treats is at the outset of teaching the command. Once the dog understands what is required of it, a pat on the head and some encouraging words is sufficient.

Step 3. How to slow your dog down to your speed

How many of you would not hold on to your 6 year old child’s hand in the city centre? Would you expect your six year old to speak fluent Russian? No, so don’t expect your dog to understand what sounds the same to them. Use the lead to build confidence and lots of patience. By the time your dog is six months old they will be getting more biddable, more curious and more determined but up to the first year you can never be certain. However you are desperate to give your dog the freedom of that run about. A game keeper taught me a very good tactic called hobbling. Your dog’s collar should always allow you to get three fingers under it, if you can’t it is too tight. Simply stick your dog’s front paw through the collar, it looks cruel, its not and you can catch a dog on three legs, it puts the odds in your favour, so you now have the opportunity to train your dog to stay close to you, or get it back safely. Don’t use a retractable lead it encourages your dog to pull. Dogs on retractable leads are not properly trained (such a statement could be highly controversial but I would presume that those owners won’t be reading this type of article so there won’t be anyone to offend!)

Step 4. Timing – how long does it take to train my dog? I think 300 hours gets a basic job done before your dog will specialise into say rescue, field sports, or social human tasks like police or military work. It takes a good year to settle and train a dog. If you get the big 4 commands in quickly and early the dog will start to perform well but it will take at least a year so be patient and persist. Practice all the time – practice makes perfect. ( it also helps you lose weight!). I now have a black and white Springer Spaniel and she was terrible for running off. This was my fault. On dark evenings I only needed to get distracted for a second and the dog was gone. There I am in the dark and pouring rain, shouting my head off and the dog is in the next county. Twenty anxious minutes later I get a ball of mud back! Never be cross with a returning dog, it is after the fact and they may misinterpret you, causing trauma and confusion. Simply make a note to self to set up a training session in a controlled environment to fix the problem whilst kicking your own bottom and not the dogs!

Step 5. How to stop your dog running away

You spend hours and hours working with them, you teach the big 4 commands and when they are over six months old and really understand the commands then you have to bring discipline to bear or face the possibility of an unthinkable incident. I have tried whistles, chasing after her and just leaving her, none of which are satisfactory and just exposes the dog to danger. If I can’t control the dog at both short and long range she is useless in the field other than as a pet. So how do I stop my pet from running away. A game keeper suggested an electric collar. I dismissed it out of hand as being cruel, but it is not as cruel as watching your dog in agony pinned down under a car wheel. I decided to try an electric collar but resolved to be kind and fair. It has transformed the dog without any cruelty at all and this is how it works: First and only after 6 months minimally, and only when the big 4 commands are in place can you use one. My collar has an audible alarm which the dog can hear even when she can’t hear or see me. She quickly learned to respond to this bleep, it means only one thing ‘Heal’. Since wild life has hearing and great vision too, we get to see lots of it when we are out now because we are quiet, the dog is under control at all times and above all is safe. Your dog and especially Springer Spaniels will want to do as you ask. You must be there at the time of any incident which demands attention or arresting and a bleeper really is on the spot and instant. If the dog doesn’t respond there are 8 settings to ‘tweak your dog’s ear’, building up to a shock. All of these are much gentler than rough handling or hitting the dog. All of them hurt a lot less than impact with an HGV. I must stress that if you don’t have the big four commands in place and a confident dog you should not deploy such a device, just keep your dog on a lead. The collar is only for the dog’s protection and control and the charge, which is about the same as a static shock from a door handle, does not cause the dog much discomfort, but it lets her know I want her attention when all else fails which is pretty rare these days. I don’t know how the shepherds do it but they have my admiration. I don’t need my little dog to achieve those levels. We have lots of fun together and she adores my two girls, mind you she adores everyone including the postman! I think that patience is the secret and then it’s a matter of time.. She also has a special settee in our garden room (but never assumes this right in the house), and a dog house made out of straw bales which she loves as it is very warm. She also knows where the edge is, and pushes it like crazy, but she is safe and well behaved and under control at all times because she can hear me and every day that goes by her knowledge of language and disciplined procedure improves. I think I will always use an electric collar now, it is a safety device which makes me much less apprehensive about the dog’s behaviour because I can focus on expanding the dog’s comprehension of commands, so her behaviour continues to improve and she plays an even bigger and much more enjoyable part in day to day activities. If you don’t want your pet to run off get to grips with the collar, lead, teaching, rewarding and discipline and be heard – the best way to do that quietly is with a bleeping collar – really it works. I think these new devices are the dog equivalent of a 2 way radio. No soldier goes into combat without one. I think they are here to stay and used responsibly will transform your life and make teaching your dog a real joy and with much less stress. Remember it is your finger on the button and you decide whether you are a dog trainer or a dog breaker – I know which I am.

How long does it take to teach your dog the big 4 Commands?

It takes about 20 minutes armed with some really ‘must have’ treats, and then repeat the training a day or so later for a few minutes until you see it work immediately. I use mackerel fillets but anything other than chocolate will do the trick. For every minute of training you need an hour of practice to get the command working consistently and then three or four times longer to get them all working together. You will pay for gaps in your routine and you will be able to notice when others have handled your dog. Dogs will always push to the limit to see what they can get away with so you have to be that limit and you can’t always do that by being nice and feeding the dog treats. Never break your dog by cruelty and bullying to get the obedience you want, a broken dog does not work properly and anyone who has trained a dog will spot a broken dog a mile off, you can’t hide it and you can’t repair the damage.

A command should be instant, it is useless if it is not and may get you, your children, the dog or some poor unsuspecting motorist into an unthinkable situation, it is worth the effort.

Should you let the dog on the sofa – Training Versus Behaviour?

Oh boy is this a hot potato! Firstly your dog knows the difference between the scruffy couch in the playroom and the one in the living room but you may have to work more on the training. You can let your dog do anything you like provided you put the effort in with the ground rules, but here is a simple guide.

Your dog has two basic barks, one to warn and the other is more playful. Learn what they are and what they mean. If you don’t want a yappy dog you will get the opportunity at about 10 months to sort it out.

Don’t allow your dog to behave in a way that would be offensive to others, I am sure you don’t need a list from me.

You can use a smack, a firm push or voice commands so long as it is immediate. If your dog is beyond reach you will need to either be very quick (voice and run) or use an electric collar. A sharp shock beats a fight or injury. If this is administered at the start of the action the dog is unlikely to repeat the offence. You won’t break the dog doing this. Prolonged aggression or fierce punishment fills your dog with terror. I have heard them start to yelp before a blow is struck because they know what is coming. Could you do your job knowing someone is about to give you a good kicking? Neither can the dog. I have never seen a broken dog that didn’t bring a lump to my throat and have me biting my lip to hold back the tears. Like the dog I suffer quietly in silence unable to speak.

Being a good dog owner and handler

Bad behaviour develops as a result of lack of effort or selfishness by the owner. Like your children the more patience and time you spend with them and effort you put into your dog, the more reward you can expect with a strong measure of devotion paid back. Like children they will pick up trauma between adults and they don’t like it. Neglect will result in the dog making up its own rules and then you will need a dog psychologist to intervene. Unless the dog is ill and requiring 24 hour supervision, I would advocate they should have their own special place. A kennel is usually the best so they can have peace and quite to relax and dry/chill out and be themselves. You wouldn’t normally have your children in bed with you, so I think it is a bit odd to have your pets there too. Lack of common sense is what develops poor animal behaviour. Plenty of exercise, good diet, discipline, routine, care and attention will work for your dog.

In summary, the three essential pieces of equipment required are a lead, a collar and an audible device that can be heard anywhere instantly by your dog which upon being heard recalls your dog to your side.. If a measure of force is required then this device should have the ability to administer it or be backed up by it.

How to Make a cosy dog bed for free – well almost

I think a great bed makes a very happy dog, especially if they have a full tummy

As an engineer, specialising in materials handling and storage, when it comes to a bed for the dog I wanted to create a cosy place for her to sleep. For several months I persevered with pet cushions etc but they just get filthy and are not very easy to clean or warm to sleep on outdoors. In winter this year we had two feet of snow, which the dog loved but it was cold for her and I wanted something better.

Pallets are often equipment you can pick up for free. Two or three of them are very simple to convert into a bed. 1000mm x 1200mm is a perfect size. If you have an outhouse, garage or shed they will fit easily inside. It doesn’t matter if the dog chews them, the wood can be recycled or used for fire wood and if you use straw, the straw can be composted or burned. Now this solution is not for everyone but the dog will love it and you may grow to love it and here is why:

  • The straw helps clean the dog
  • The dog can scrape and arrange the straw as it wants it
  • The pallet and a few straw bales make a very cosy den
  • Filled with straw your dog can live comfortably outside in all weathers
  • Living outside is better for the dog
  • Dogs will grow their natural seasonal coats in line with the climate. Inside they go into a state of permanent moulting, outside unheated they can live more naturally.
  • The straw is cosy and warm the year round especially with the added protection of 380mm to 450mm of insulation on 6 sides
  • The pallet keeps your dog off the cold floor – essential.
  • Straw bales range from £1.75 to £3.50

Before you go into blind panic about scabies or mange, I have never had any trouble. However if you are worried ask your vet, I think you will find that the modern treatments keep them at bay anyway. Do watch out for nails and cardboard (stapled on). Plywood makes good tops if the wood is spaced or a bit rough and then the deep straw does the rest.

My dog really loves her straw bed and is quite happy to get into it and I rarely see her little black nose come round the edge of the bale until I call for her.

Pet-Friendly Vacations in Ventura County West

Let’s face it, our pets are part of the family. And when families go on vacation, that means their four-legged friends are coming along for the fun.

More than 20 hotels, inns and RV parks in Ventura County West welcome pets. One is the Ventura Beach Marriott. “The Ventura Beach Marriott has been a pet friendly property for the past eight years,” says Alissa Van Keuren, the hotels director of sales and events.

“More and more guests are choosing to travel with their furry friends,” says Van Keuren. “Our front desk offers a list and a map of local dog-approved parks and walking trails. The chef at our Pacifico Restaurant created a special menu for pets so everyone can enjoy their lunch or dinner. Guests with pets dine in our Visions Gallery, a beautiful sunlight space adjacent to the restaurant and lobby, or they can dine outdoors in our Tropical Courtyard by waterfalls and a koi pond.”

Others Ventura County West pet-friendly lodging include Baymont Inn & Suites, Hilton Garden Inn and Residence Inn by Marriott Camarillo in Camarillo, Grandstay Residential Suites, Residence Inn by Marriott at River Ridge and Vagabond Inn Oxnard in Oxnard and Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach, Marriott Ventura Beach and Wyndham Garden Ventura Pierpont Inn. Pets are welcome at Evergreen RV Park in Oxnard and Ventura Beach R.V. Resort in Ventura.

When your group gets hungry, there is no need to leave your pet behind. Take your dog to one of the over 40 restaurants in Ventura County West that are dog friendly. Stop by The Way Point Cafe (your pooch will enjoy the views of the airplanes landing and taking off from the adjacent Camarillo Airport), Beach House Fish on the Ventura Pier in Ventura (the pier is perfect for a dog walk) and The Waterside Restaurant and Wine Bar in Channel Islands Harbor.

“Our restaurant has been pet-friendly since we opened in September 2013,” says Steve Buenger, co-owner of The Waterside Restaurant and Wine Bar. “Guests can take advantage of the pet-friendly dining patio on a nice afternoon or evening.”

Roxie, a yellow Labrador, is a big part of The Waterside. “She’s our hostess on most weekends and has a station right outside the front door, complete with a nice padded bed and water bowl,” says Buenger. “We recently celebrated her ninth birthday with a party. Guests came with presents–and their dogs.”

The Waterside, like most restaurants, has rules patrons must follow when bringing their dog to the restaurant. Dogs cannot be on the table or on their owner’s lap. They cannot eat off a plate or drink from a glass and servers are not allowed to touch the animals while working. Dogs must be kept on a leash and within reach of their owner.

Dogs (and kids, for that matter) want to be outside while on vacation. Take your canine and family on an excursion along the beachfront walking path stretching from Ventura to Oxnard or to Grant Park, high above the Ventura-Oxnard coastline. Dogs are welcome on beaches and in parks including Surfer’s Point, Marina Park, Harbor Cove and Promenade Park. Dogs have to be leashed and owners must clean up after their dogs.

If your dog has sea legs, head to Hopper Boat Rentals at Fisherman’s Wharf in Oxnard and rent a motor skiff. You and your dog can cruise the Channel Islands Harbor. Want to shop with your dog? No problem. The Camarillo Premium Outlets with its 160 specialty and discount stores is dog friendly. Dogs are allowed in the common areas of the mall. Dogs must be well behaved, leashed, and under their owner’s control at all times.

“Retailers such as Splendid | Ella Moss leave water bowls outside so Fido can stay hydrated and cool while walking the center,” says John Best, General Manager of Camarillo Premium Outlets. “Each individual store has its own policies as to whether pets can come inside. Many allow pets as long as they are held by their owners.”

For nice harbor views while you shop, take your dog to Ventura Harbor Village. There is lots to see for both owner and dog plus many of the restaurants and shops at the harbor accommodate pets. Come in summer when there are free outdoor concerts. Dogs are always welcome.

Is A Ferret the Right Pet For You?

10) Specialized diets. Ferrets are obligate carnivores, which means that they require a special diet high in meat based protein in order to be healthy (34% meat protein and 22% fat is recommended). Some irresponsible pet owners feed low quality cat/kitten food to their ferrets because it is cheaper and can be picked up at the local grocery store; however this can lead to dangerous health problems for the ferret further down the road.

Most commercial cat/kitten foods use grain-based fillers such as corn, wheat or rice as their primary ingredient. Ferrets have very short gastrointestinal tracts which are unable to easily digest grains, fruits or vegetables; this type of food passes mostly undigested through their system, therefore they receive little to no nutritional value from the food, and eventually become ill and malnourished. High quality ferret food is available at pet stores and online, but can be pricier than standard dog or cat food; whether or not you can afford to purchase expensive food for your pet is one of the key factors to consider about ferret ownership.

9) Exotic pets. Although ferret ownership is legal in 48 states (it is illegal to own ferrets in California and Hawaii), many cities and counties can enact their own laws restricting ferret ownership. Verify that the city or county you live in does not have bans or restrictions requiring permits for your ferrets. If you rent or lease property, even if cats and dogs are allowed, do not automatically assume that ferrets are also included on the list of allowed pets. Violations of city or county laws can lead to fines, confiscation of your pet, and possibly euthanization. Violation of rental or lease agreements can also lead to fines and the possible eviction of you and your pets.

8) Children. Ferrets are NOT good pets for children. This is not to say that ferrets shouldn’t be kept in homes with children, as long as both children and ferrets are supervised while playing together. Rather, ferrets are very high maintenance pets, which require a great deal of time, commitment and energy. Most children are unable to do the necessary work required to maintain a healthy and safe environment for a ferret, which can be considerably more intensive than the care needed for a dog or cat. Ferrets are not like gerbils or rabbits which can be left alone in small cages for long periods of time. Ferrets are – in fact – considered “exotic pets,” and should not be purchased on a whim for a child because of how cute they look bouncing around in their cage at the pet store. For parents who think their seven-year-old is a prodigy and ready to learn about the heavy responsibilities of pet ownership; start with a goldfish, not a ferret. For one: a goldfish is much cheaper (ferrets can be anywhere from $80 to $140 not counting food, supplies and housing) and for another: when the inevitable happens and your child becomes bored of their cute new pet, which one do you want to end up taking care of for the rest of its natural lifespan? A goldfish that typically lives two to three weeks? Or a ferret that may live up to ten years?

7) Other Pets. Ferrets can be compatible with some household pets, but not others. As carnivores, ferrets will be guided by their natural instincts to hunt smaller animals like birds, rodents and lizards. If they can be kept safely apart from one another, it’s possible for ferrets and small animals to coexist peacefully, but keep in mind that all it takes is forgetting to latch the iguana tank once, and then no more iguana! Larger animals like dogs and cats can be trained to accept a ferret into the home and will sometimes even play together, although some dog species (like terriers, who were bred to hunt small mammals) might be more prone to attack or seriously injure a ferret. It is best to consider the temperament of your currents pets and how they have reacted to new people/pets in the past; they will likely react in a similar fashion to a new ferret. Younger animals that are raised together will naturally have the easiest time cohabiting; older animals are typically more territorial and resistant to change.

6) Ferret-proofing. Ferrets are naturally curious creatures that will explore every nook and cranny of your home, and can cram themselves into the smallest and most difficult to reach places. This can include places that are dangerous for the ferret, like between the springs of a mattress or couch, beneath or inside a major appliance like a washing machine or a dishwasher, or inside cabinets containing poisonous cleaners or chemicals. Just like with a toddler or a small child, before getting a ferret one must ensure that the entire house or apartment has safety measures in place to prevent accidents from happening. This can be time consuming and necessitate a lot of hard work as you will need to try to predict all the possible places your ferret might squeeze, dig, climb or claw their way into.

Ferrets share another similarity with toddlers in that they like to pick up small objects off of the floor and chew on or eat them. Ferrets have short intestinal tracts in which objects can easily become lodged. This happens most frequently with small pieces of rubber or foam which expand inside the intestine when ingested and cannot be passed. Without immediate (and costly) surgery, such blockages are usually fatal; this is why the second part of ferret-proofing is combing your home for things a ferret might try to chew on or eat, and making sure they are out of the ferret’s reach. Even larger objects like a foam rubber yoga mat or beach sandals can be problematic, since a ferret can gnaw off small chunks and swallow them. If you’re not willing to make some changes to your home environment for safety’s sake and be constantly vigilant of the whereabouts of your pet, then a ferret might not be the best choice for you.

5) Double (and sometimes triple) trouble. Ferrets are sociable animals, and need several hours a day of activity and social interaction in order to be healthy and happy. Many people recommend getting two ferrets instead of one, as ferrets will form strong pair bonds with their cage-mates. Although this is not a substitute for human/pet interaction, it can be helpful for people who need to leave the house for work during the day, but who still want to make sure their pet has companionship. The downside to having multiple ferrets is that you will need more space to house them, and you will be spending more money on food, litter, vet bills, and so on. However, if you are thinking about adopting a ferret from a shelter, it will often be a requirement that you adopt a pair of ferrets, as they will not wish to separate any of the ferrets from their cage mates. Pair-bonded ferrets that are separated can sometimes become deeply depressed to the point of refusing to eat, or even dying. This brings up another challenge, since if you decide to purchase two ferrets who become pair bonded, and then one dies, you are left with a solitary depressed ferret. For many people, the solution is to start out with three ferrets instead of two, but one must keep in mind the corresponding inverse ratio of more ferrets in your home to less money in your wallet, and plan accordingly.

4) Money. Ferrets can be expensive. Compared to buying a purebred dog or cat, the ferret itself isn’t very pricey – usually a single ferret from a pet store (think Petco or Petsmart) will be around $80 to $140. But then you’re going to have to buy a large cage (the larger the better – preferably with multiple levels) for your ferret to sleep in and maybe spend time in throughout the day if necessary – this will usually cost from $90 to $150. You’ll need food and water bowls, litter pans, bags of ferret litter, ferret food, ferret-tone and ferret-lax (a coat conditioning supplement and a hairball treatment… you’ll want both, most pet stores should have them), nail trimmers, a pet carrier, a hammock or sleeping tube for the ferret to lie in, and assorted toys. At this point you’ve probably spent at least $300 to $400 just for your initial setup.

Then you’re going to need to find an exotic pet veterinarian in your area who sees ferrets, as your ferrets will need check-ups and vaccinations like all other pets. If you rent or lease, you may have to pay an extra pet deposit – be sure to check with your landlord. As mentioned previously, ferrets have a specialized diet and the best quality ferret foods tend to be in the pricey range. Ferrets are exotic pets, so even though you see them in the pet store next to the gerbils and across from the Betta fish, don’t get the wrong idea; these are not cheap pets. If your ferret eats a piece of foam rubber that gets stuck in its intestine, you’re looking at emergency veterinary surgery costing over $1000. Even if the initial cost of a ferret doesn’t seem like much, consider whether you would be able to afford to take your ferret to the vet in case of emergency, which can be hundreds of dollars more than you originally planned for.

3) Smell. Ferrets have a musky scent. Some people like it, some people hate it, some people are indifferent. But there’s no way to escape the fact that the ferret is a musky, smelly little creature. Generally ferrets sold in pet stores are de-scented, but this does not entirely eliminate the ferret’s natural odor. You can buy waterless shampoo spray to put on the ferret’s coat which temporarily gives it a fresh, floral scent, but this disappears fairly quickly. It’s also possible to bathe ferrets using special shampoo, although supposedly this actually makes ferrets smellier afterwards because the shampoo strips natural oils from their skin, drying it out, which then causes their oil glands to overcompensate; this makes them smell worse than before their bath. There really isn’t any way to completely eliminate the ferret’s odor, however it can be minimized by making sure its cage/litter is cleaned frequently, and that it is eating high quality food free of fish byproducts. Before purchasing a ferret, go to your local Petco or Petsmart and put your nose over the top of the ferret cage; it will give you a pretty good idea of the type of smell you can expect to face if you bring one home.

2) Poo. Ferrets have a very high metabolism. They eat frequently, they digest their food quickly, and logically that means that they go to the bathroom a lot. When I say a lot, I mean A LOT. And ferret poo is smelly, so you’re going to want to clean it up quickly – luckily it’s small and easy to clean up. Just keep in mind that there’s going to be a lot of it. Ferrets can be litter-box trained to a certain extent – they have a natural instinct to back up into the nearest corner whenever they feel the urge to go, so if a pan filled with litter pellets is placed in the corner, eventually they will make the connection and go to the bathroom in the litter pan. However if the ferret is feeling lazy, it will often just back up into the closest corner even if there’s no litter pan there. If you want to be safe rather than sorry, you’ll probably end up with litter pans or folded up newspaper in every intersection of two planes in your house, which may or may not clash with the interior design motif of your furniture.

1) Affection. Ferrets are fun, amusing, intelligent, playful, adorable pets. However they’re not the same as dogs and cats. They don’t particularly like being picked up, or pet, or cuddled; they’re not very affectionate, although they do like stealing pieces of your clothing and stashing them in hidden nests throughout the house. Sometimes they seem glad to see you, although they might just be excited for the treats you’re bringing over. If you want unconditional love, you should probably get a dog. If you want a furry lap warmer, you should probably get a cat. If you want a fuzzy ball of energy that’s a whole lot of trouble, and that may or may not love you as much as you love it, but that will do its best to weasel its cute little way into your heart; then maybe a ferret is the right pet for you.