Taking your bearded dragon out for a walk on a leash is possible, with some hard work!
Imagine living in a glass box for most of your life – that’s life as a bearded dragon in a terrarium. If you notice your bearded dragon scratching away at the glass every now and then, he is probably bored!
As a bearded dragon owner you want to keep your little lizard friend entertained and have some fun together. So, why not leash train your bearded dragon and take him out for a walk?
The following is a step by step guide on leash training your bearded dragon:
- Purchase a suitable leash for your bearded dragon.
- Get your bearded dragon used to wearing the leash.
- Take your bearded dragon outside for short periods of time.
- Work your way up to walking with your bearded dragon.
- Return your bearded dragon to his normal environment.
In this article, we will discuss what makes a good candidate for leash training. Additionally, we discuss the step to step guide in detail, so you can join Chris Pratt on #TakeYourLizardForAWalkDay.
Can all bearded dragons be leash trained?
Bearded dragons can be leash trained, but it will take a lot of dedication. Despite putting the time in and doing everything correctly, some beardies may never accept being on a leash. As with any pet, whether your bearded dragon can be leash trained, depends on his individual personality.
What makes a good candidate for leash training?
Bearded dragons as a species are usually easier to leash train than other lizard species. This is because bearded dragons tend to be calm and less aggressive than others. They also tend to enjoy handling more than others, such as chameleons and anoles.
However, as mentioned above, it does depend on your individual beardie’s temperament and personality. In the same way humans and animals do, all reptiles have unique personalities. Therefore, some are more amenable to handling than others.
Leash training a bearded dragon takes a lot of hard work, therefore your dragon must have high levels of motivation.
Therefore, the best leash training candidates are bearded dragons that enjoy handling, are sociable and are not easily stressed.
When stressed or upset, bearded dragons turn the area under their chin black. Of course, biting or an open-mouth stance also indicates a stressed and threatened animal. Additionally, reptiles display chronic stress by changing their eating and defecating habits, lethargy, hiding or spending more time in one area of the enclosure.
Step by Step Guide: How to Leash Train Your Bearded Dragon
If you believe your bearded dragon is a good candidate for leash training, here is a simple step by step guide on how to train him.
Take your time on each step and ensure that he is ready before moving onto the next step. You don’t want to stress your bearded dragon out, or he may refuse to ever walk on a leash.
Purchase a suitable leash for your bearded dragon.
Experts recommend using a harness, as pictured, rather than a collar. In the same way collars put tension on dog’s necks, they will also be uncomfortable for lizards. Additionally, lizards can easily squirm their way out of a collar far easier than a harness.
Look for a harness that is not too thin that it will dig into lizard and cause him discomfort. Additionally, we advise that you purchase a harness leash that is adjustable, so that it can snuggly fit your bearded dragon.
If you have a large bearded dragon, you can look into using a ferret or rabbit harnesses, which tend to be a good fit for lizards.
Get your bearded dragon used to wearing the leash.
Before heading out on your walk, try to spend time getting your bearded dragon used to wearing the harness. Pop the harness on your lizard and let him wear it around the house and in his terrarium.
This way, he is less likely to get stressed when you take him outside. A new environment as well as wearing strange new garments may be too much change for him.
Take your bearded dragon outside for short periods of time.
For a higher chance of success, you want to gradually acclimatise your bearded dragon to being outside.
Once he is used to being in his harness, you can take him outside for short periods of time. Start off by letting him outside for just 5 to 10 minutes at a time, to avoid him getting stressed out.
While you are outside, move gently and slowly so you do not frighten him.
You may want to start off by sitting on the ground and placing him on your lap, rather than on the floor. This way, he can get used to his surroundings and take it all in, whilst being comforted by you. Allow him to climb off you in his own time.
If your bearded dragon appears to be stressed, immediately take him back inside and try again another day.
Work your way up to walking with your bearded dragon.
When your bearded dragon starts to feel more comfortable being outside, you can try walking with him.
Again, walk slowly and gently, so you do not frighten your lizard.
Walk right next to him and when he turns to a direction where he should not go block him or turn him the other way if needed. If your lizard starts to squirm or tries to run away, take him home and try again another day.
Please note that it may take weeks for your bearded dragon to feel comfortable enough to walk on a leash.
Return your bearded dragon to his normal environment.
After your adventure outdoors, return your bearded dragon to his terrarium. Your lizard’s terrarium is his safe place. If he did get stressed whilst outdoors, he will calm down while at home.
Tips for walking your bearded dragon.
1. Stay with your bearded dragon at all times.
Not only will you provide your bearded dragon with comfort, the world is full of hazards that you must keep an eye out for.
There are loads of things that could potentially harm your beardie if you aren’t careful. These include glass that could cut your lizard’s food or plastic that he could choke on. You also want to prevent your bearded dragon eating insects as they may carry parasites that can cause your lizard to get sick.
Additionally, there may be potential predators that could harm or even take your lizard away! Hawks and seagulls are usual suspects that could be a danger to your bearded dragon.
2. Avoid areas with lots of noise and trees.
A noisy environment will stress your bearded dragon out. He may already be a little stressed from being away from the comfort of his home, so loud noises will definitely make him more uncomfortable. Stay away from busy roads, loud music and large crowds.
Why stay away from trees? If your bearded dragon gets scared, it’s likely his instinct will kick in and draw him up a tree. Therefore, if he does manage to escape, you may struggle to get him back!
3. Never let your bearded dragon off the leash.
No matter how tame your bearded dragon is, never let him off the leash while away from home. Bearded dragons will want to run and hide if they are scared, which is likely when they’re in a new environment. As mentioned above, if your lizard does catch a fright, it is likely he will run up a tree.
4. Never force your lizard to walk on a leash.
Not all bearded dragons are suitable for leash-training. Lizards that are unsociable, easily stressed and uneasy when handled, are not suitable for leash training. Before attempting to leash train a lizard, you should work towards taming him and forming a strong bond.
Even bearded dragons that are sociable, calm and confident, shouldn’t be forced to walk on a leash until they are ready. It takes a lot of time and dedication to leash train a lizard and forcing a lizard to walk when he is not ready may put him off the idea altogether.
5. Give your bearded dragon treats while on the walk.
You would give a dog a treat when he is a good boy, so why not treat a bearded dragon the same? Positive reinforcement training uses treats to reward your beardie for doing something you want him to do. He will also associate the walk with treats, and is therefore more likely to remember it as a positive experience.
Leash training a bearded dragon does take a lot of hard work, and some lizard’s may never be trained.
If you are the owner of a chilled out, sociable bearded dragon, then you may be able to leash train him and take him for a walk. However, those of you who own shy and nervous bearded dragons, may not. Spend some time taming your bearded dragon before attempting to leash train him.
Look out for any signs of stress when training your lizard, and return him home immediately if you suspect he is stressed. Try again another day.
Finally, never force your bearded dragon to walk on a leash if he is hesitant. It may take weeks for a bearded dragon to feel comfortable enough to walk on a leash.
Hope you have found this helpful.