Fennec Fox Training

Training

Fennec fox training is not easy and requires a lot of patience. They can’t be trained in the same way as a dog since fennec foxes are wild animals and won’t respond to usual canine training. However they can learn how to sit and fetch with extensive training. They can also recognize the names of people and things.

Socializing

One of the most important things you can do is socialize your animal while they are still young. It is important that your pet fennec gets used to humans and human interaction as soon as possible. This will help with more advanced training further down the road. This kind of interaction can be simple, even just picking up your fennec and placing them down again or playing with them in your lap. They usually like to have their ears stroked as well as their head and the back of their neck. Some of them don’t like their stomachs touched but this is down to your fennec’s preferences. Spending lots of time with your fennec fox will make them much more responsive to you.

Cage Training

Once you have that all important bond with your pet you can begin fennec fox training. You should begin with cage-training. It is important that your fennec fox doesn’t relate the cage with punishment, it is somewhere that they should feel safe and secure. You can use special treats to get your fennec to go into their cage such as mario worms or crickets. It’s also important to mix it up, for example try rolling a ball in that they are chasing or wait for them to go into it on their own. Furthermore don’t always lock the cage, your fennec does not want to associate the cage with being trapped. Lure your fennec into the cage at random times without locking it and then you will have less trouble getting them in the cage when you actually need to.

Clicker Training

A fennec fox that has learned the way of the click

Before commencing the training there a few things you will need:

  • Training clicker
  • A large stick which is painted or bright at one end.
  • Treats

Fennec fox training with a clicker will take a long time and a lot of patience. As you know they are full of energy and tend to do what they want more than dogs or even cats. The first thing you should do is get them used to the clicker so they know what it is. To begin show them the clicker and let them investigate it, click it once and as soon as they hear the sound give them a treat such as a cricket or a mealworm. Do this about 5 times in one session. Do around 3 sessions every day until you are confident your pet fennec is aware that the clicker is linked to treats. Never use the clicker outside of training sessions or your pet will get confused.

Once they are used to the clicker it’s time to introduce the “target,” this is where the large stick with the bright tip comes in. Begin by showing the stick and as soon as the fox touches the tip of the stick with their nose, click and give them a treat. Again do this about 10 times per session a few times a day. If your fennec doesn’t touch the tip with her nose right away, be patient, you must wait until they touch the tip themselves, don’t try to force them.

Next introduce a “command,” when your fennec touches the target, say “target” (or anything you want). Again be patient, never repeat commands.

Once they are familiar with the “command” you can begin presenting the target as usual. This time however, don’t give them a treat for touching the target. Only give them a treat after you have said the command. No matter how often your fennec fox touches the target with their nose, ignore them unless you have given the “command.” Again, never repeat commands, if your fennec doesn’t touch after you have given the command, don’t repeat it.

Now that your pet can “target,” you can teach them “follow” using the aforementioned method. Now you can get them to go where you want be it, into a cage, through a tunnel, jump over something etc..

Sitting

This one is a little tricky and takes a lot of practice but is similar to the method already mentioned. Get close to the ground with a treat in your hand. When your fennec touches the treat with its nose take it past their ear and round the back of their head. As their head follows the treat their butt should touch the ground, at this point say “sit.” Give them the treat. Eventually the will associate the behavior of touching the floor with their butt with the command “sit.” Once they are familiar with this, don’t give them the treat unless you give the command, eventually they should sit (most times) when you say “sit.” good luck.

Toilet Training

Firstly, you should understand that a fennec fox can never be completely toilet trained. You will still discover the odd poop here and there. I find a litter box more successful but other owners have also had success with absorbent pads, each fennec is different. My fennec personally loves to dig in the sand and I guess it more closely replicates how they would go to the toilet in the desert. Also I have hardwood flooring, which helps as they tend to prefer toilet locations that will absorb their poop and urine.

Once you have bought a cat litter box, fill it about 3-4 inches with sand. A simple pan design with a low sided entrance is perfect such as this one from Amazon.

They will be naturally curious at first so place it somewhere in your house that is easily accessible but doesn’t have heavy footfall. At first, every hour or so, just simply take your fennec fox and put them in the litter box. Do this for a few days so that they get used to the scent and location.

Whenever your pet fennec has an accident, take them to the litter box as soon as you discover it, over time your fennec should begin to show preference to doing their business inside the litter box rather than around your home. Remember that positive re-enforcement is key. Never punish your fennec fox.

Harness training

First of all I would recommend having some of the basic commands down before taking your fennec out for walks. If they manage to escape, at least you still have some hope if they respond to you calling them and they know their name.

Basic collars just won’t cut it here, fennec foxes are escape artists. They will find a way to get out and if they do they are so quick and will be gone before you know it. If you take your pet for walks, ALWAYS use an H-type harness. Even better use a collar in conjunction with an H harness so that you have a back-up if one fails. Again you can find good harnesses for small cats that will work well for fennec foxes. Here is one I recommend. This tube type harness is safer but if your fennec fox rejects it then maybe try a typical H-harness. You can find more options over at our store.

Even if you don’t plan on walking your fennec fox, it’s a good idea for them to be used to putting on and taking off the harness for important trips such as the vet. You can practice putting it on while handing your fennec treats. Harnesses that secure around the body work better as they don’t like things that slip over their head. Remember though that these are wild animals and you may have a real hard time training some fennecs if they don’t like it. Don’t be disheartened and just do your best. Remember that your fennec may perceive the harness like a predatory bird  gripping it with their talons, it’s not their fault.

When you are ready to begin walking your fennec fox, begin in a secure and familiar environment. Only after several weeks of training with the leash in a safe place are you ready to take them out into the big wide-world. Even then they might be fearful, crouching to avoid the sight of an owl or falcon. As with everything, have patience and empathy.