Who wouldn’t want a tiny dragon as a pet? Named for the brush of scales adorning their chins, Bearded Dragons make excellent animal companions, providing their humans with plenty of love and entertainment.
What’s more, they’re super intelligent, which makes them relatively easy to train.
In this post, I’ll take you through some ways to train your Bearded Dragon and why training is important for bonding purposes.
How to Train your Bearded Dragon
The best way to train your Bearded Dragon is through consistency and positive reinforcement in the form of food. They can be trained to use a litter box, to come when they are called, how to play, and how to drink from a water bowl, but this process can take a few weeks or months, so patience is paramount.
How to Start the Training Process for Bearded Dragons
Before you begin your training regime, consider what it is that you want your Dragon to learn. They are highly intelligent creatures, so they pick up knowledge easily, including potentially bad habits.
Once you have ascertained that, for example, you want to teach them to come when you call them, you’ll need to establish a training schedule that you can reliably show up for.
The only way bearded dragons learn is through consistency and repetition. Furthermore, training time should align with their feeding time.
Feeding time, in turn, should always be two hours after their lights are turned on or two hours before they’re turned off.
Training a Beardie
If you’re adopting a young Bearded Dragon, you should start training them as soon as you get them. Dragons respond well to litter box training, water bowl training, calling, play, and mutual trust training.
All of these involve your greatest asset, which is their love of food.
Litter Box Training
For litter box training, identify where your Beardie likes to poop. They’re creatures of habit, and if they’re fed in one place and at the same time daily, they’ll generally return to the same spot to do their business.
Once you’ve established their preference, you can start demarcating the spot with a piece of tissue paper. Once they know to go on the paper (7 to 14 days later), replace it with a disposable litter in a tiny tray.
Ideally, your Dragon will continue using this same spot and should essentially be “potty-trained.”
Water Bowl Training
Bearded Dragons are not always inclined towards water bowls, so for this reason, it’s advisable to teach them how to use them.
Scenting their water with a bit of fruit juice, consistently, when they’re still young, will attract them to it. In no time, Dragons will understand that the bowl is a great source of hydration.
Teaching your Dragon to Come when You Call
These lovely lizards are quick, and when you take them out of their enclosures, they can run off before you realize it. To prevent having to search for them, you can train bearded dragons to come to you when you call.
The only way to do this is through repetition while feeding. Saying their name consistently (and in the same tone) as you provide them a treat will teach them to associate the word with food.
Once trained, they’ll respond to the imagined promise of a snack by coming when you call.
Training your Dragon to Play
Play requires almost more patience than any other form of training. To successfully teach your Dragon to engage with you, you must establish a playing routine based on repetition, consistency, and patience.
For example, with “fetch,” teach your Dragon to roll a small ball back to you by spending time doing the same thing each day. When they get it right, reward them with a treat (if they’re hungry) or a gentle stroke and some words of praise.
Because they are so smart, they’ll eventually grasp the concept of the game.
Teaching your Dragon to Trust You
No matter how we look at it, Bearded Dragons are wild animals, and they will be apprehensive of you when you first meet. To overcome this, you need to be patient in your approach to them.
To get them used to you, don’t pressurize them from the get-go. For the first few weeks, don’t try to touch them, but rather just feed them, talk to them, and let them get comfortable in the notion that you’re not a predator.
After a few weeks, you can introduce some gentle head scratches. Over time, they’ll learn to enjoy your affection.
Why Train a Bearded Dragon
Anyone that has dealt with a Bearded Dragon will know that they are lovely pets, full of quirky habits and exotic eccentricities. Indeed, it is exactly these characteristics that make bearded dragons incredibly appealing to us.
That being said, the concept of training a Bearded Dragon sounded a bit obscure to me initially. After further research, however, I realized that it’s a crucial part of bonding with your pet.
Through training, your Dragon learns to trust you and not view you as a predator or something that can potentially cause it harm.
Conversely, it should view you as a provider and ally.
Once it is bonded to you, your life with your Dragon can really begin, in the knowledge that they feel safe and secure, as do you.
Frequently Asked Questions about How to Train your Bearded Dragon
How often should you cuddle with your Bearded Dragon?
If your Dragon is used to being touched and enjoys it, try to hold them for at least fifteen minutes a day. Really affectionate Dragons will enjoy even more attention than this. It is important that pet Dragons become used to being handled.
How do I know if a Bearded Dragon is angry?
Sure signs that you’ve upset your Dragon include hissing, spitting, tail twitching, and blowing. If see any of these signs on your pet, identify the cause of their distress and alleviate it as soon as possible.
If you’re wondering whether a creature as exotic as a Bearded Dragon can be trained, the answer is a hard yes, but with a lot of patience and commitment.
Don’t let the thought of this deter you though, as it will be worth it in the end. A Bearded Dragon that is comfortable with its human is a happy one, and a way to ensure this is to teach them all that you can.