Have you ever wondered if a Bearded Dragon can be trained?
Bearded Dragons have become increasingly popular in households all over the world over the last few years and this is largely due to their placid and playful nature. Owners simply love to play and have fun with these amazing reptiles and now many owners are asking if Bearded Dragon can be trained?
This is a question that has always fascinated me, so I set out to do all the research and gathered information for experts as well as using my own experiences to give you all the answers.
So can Bearded Dragon be trained? Bearded Dragons can be trained and doing so may be useful in many different situations. You can train them to come when called, drink from a water bowl and much more. Food is usually the incentive that allows a Bearded Dragon to learn as well as following some simple steps consistently.
Read on to find out lots of situations where you would benefit from training a Bearded Dragon and exactly how to do it.
Reasons to Train a Bearded Dragon
When you first think about training a Bearded Dragon you might only think about novelty party tricks but there are actually lots of other ways to train your Dragon that are very practical.
There are also situations where training your Bearded Dragon simple commends can actually keep them safe, healthy and even save their life.
Here’s a list of situations that are great for training a Bearded Dragon:
- Potty Training
- Come to You (Very Important & Can Keep Them Safe)
- Fun & Mental Stimulation (Games)
- Drinking From a Water Bowl
- Getting Used to a New Owner
Now let’s take a closer look at how you can train your Bearded Dragon in each of these situations.
How to Potty Train Your Bearded Dragon
It may seem a little bizarre that you can potty train a Bearded Dragon but it’s actually a very realistic concept and one that I strongly suggest you use to your advantage.
Potty training your Dragon will make your job of cleaning the tank much easier and faster with minimal disruption to your Dragon.
Bearded Dragons will usually form a habit when it comes to pooping in the tank. If you feed them at the same time daily then they will often go to poop at roughly the same time and also the same place.
We are most interested in the place that they poop as this will become the foundation for the potty training method.
Ok, let’s get into it…
Step 1 – Over the next few days try to notice a place in the tank where your Dragon likes to regularly poop.
Step 2 – Lay down a small piece of paper over the spot where they like to poop. Your Bearded Dragon should keep pooping in the same spot and now on the paper.
Step 3 – After they have successfully pooped on the paper for around 7-10 days create a small box/tray and put the paper inside the tray and place it in the exact same place. Your Dragon should still want to poop in the same place and be happy to do it on the paper even though it’s in a small tray.
Step 4 – Little by little over the next 7-10 days add a small amount of ‘Sani chips’ over the paper until it’s not visible anymore.
Step 5 – Now remove the paper and just use the tray and Sani chips. Your Bearded Dragon should now be happy to poop in the tray and on top of the Sani chips without the paper being there.
Step 6 – Now every couple of days you should move the tray about half an inch until it’s placed in the location of your choice. Your Dragon should be trained to poop in the tray and if you move it ever so slightly every couple of days they should still happily poop in it without noticing it’s moved.
If you notice them going back to their old spot again then you have done one of the steps too quickly and you might have to consider taking more time until the process is ingrained in your Bearded Dragons subconscious. The fundamental part of this method is to build a habit and some Dragons will do this faster than others so just remain patient and do things at a pace that suits both you and your Dragon.
This method is backed up by The Cuteness blog who also recommend using a similar method.
How to Train Your Bearded Dragon to ‘Come to You’ On Command
It’s actually very possible to train your Bearded Dragon to ‘come to you’ on command and this certainly isn’t just a party trick.
Training your Dragon to come to you can be one of the most important things you do as an owner. I have heard of owners letting their Dragon play in the house (which is great) but they have taken their eyes off their Dragon for one minute and they’ve vanished into hiding.
The owners have then been looking for their Bearded Dragon for hours until they find them in some unusual and hard to reach spot.
The same situation can arise if you let your Dragon go outside in the garden, if they’re not on a leash and something scares them then they can go into hiding in a flash.
Now imagine if for both of these situations all you had to do was call your Dragons name and they came running to you every single time, this situation would never be a problem or something you had to worry about.
The method I’m about to show you will allow you to simply call your Dragons name and they will come to you on command. You can either use this for the reasons we just talked about or just as a cool trick.
Ok, let’s get started, The method is what Is known as ‘Call & Feed’ and works on the basis of food being an incentive and something they will associate with their name.
Step 1 – At feeding time, call your Bearded Dragons name, for example, say ‘Spike’ and then quickly offer 1 worm. Then once they have eaten the worn repeat the process of saying their name and offering just 1 worm.
You should keep the worm close to you so your Dragon associates the food with you and you should also just say their name and not something like ‘here Spike’ or ‘come get it Spike’. One last thing to mention in this step is to keep the tone of your voice consistent and in a cheerful tone.
Step 2 – You should be consistent with this technique for at least one week. You should do this for at least one meal per day so it gives them time to associate the sound of their name with food.
Step 3 – The final step is to call your Bearded Dragons name without food. Eventually, over time they will hear the sound of their name, instantly think of food and come running to you. Some Dragons will learn faster than others so it’s just a matter of being patient and consistent in your approach.
Teach Your Bearded Dragon to Play Fetch
Teaching your Bearded Dragon to play fetch is a great way to spend some time with them and it’s also amazing for bonding.
I would also highly recommend this activity for giving your Dragon some mental stimulation. Bearded Dragons can easily get bored in their tank all day every day and playing fetch is a wonderful way to relieve the boredom and keep them stimulated.
I’ve spoken to quite a few Bearded Dragon owners and a lot of them like to simply roll a ball towards their Dragon and wait for them to roll it back.
Most of the owners said that it takes around 2 weeks for their Dragon to understand the concept of this and do it consistently.
Just so you know, you’re not limited to just playing fetch! There are lots of activities and fun games you can play with your Bearded Dragon. I’ve written a post here that shares 17 great toys and activities for your Dragon.
Always make sure that the ball is small enough for your Dragon to easily push it back to you and only roll the ball small distances to start off with and gradually progress to further distances as they grasp the concept.
I’ve tried to do this by offering food when a Bearded Dragon brings the ball back but the problem is that then they become disinterested in the ball and focused on you as they expect more food.
For this reason, I think the best way to teach your Dragon to play fetch is to simply play the game over and over until they understand the concept. Bearded Dragons are very intelligent reptiles and they can learn and understand way more then we give them credit for so just be consistent and have some fun and I’m sure you will see them playing the game in no time at all.
Teach Your Bearded Dragon to Drink From a Water Bowl
Many Bearded Dragon owners may have difficulty in getting their Dragon to drink from a water bowl. There can be many reasons for this and it’s quite natural and common.
Bearded Dragons usually struggle to see still water and will more often than not drink running water from a stream in the wild. They also get a lot of the water/moisture they need for hydration through the insects and greens they eat, however, in captivity, it’s always recommended to have a fresh bowl of water available for your Dragon.
If you find that your Bearded Dragon won’t drink from the bowl then there’s a simple method you can use to train them to use it daily.
Step 1 Add a small amount of juice to the water in the bowl. Your Dragon will smell the juice and be attracted to the water and then begin to lap it up. Bearded Dragons only drink small amounts of water each day so don’t worry if they don’t drink the full bowl.
(I’ve written a post that shares everything you need to know about Bearded Dragons and drinking and I also share a chart that reveals how much water your Dragon needs depending on its size) You can check out the post on Bearded Dragon drinking here.
Step 2 – Repeat this daily for the next 14 days until your Dragon is used to drinking out of the bowl.
Step 3 – Gradually reduce the amount of juice you put in the water bowl each day for around 7-10 days until there is only water the bowl again.
Step 4 – From now on you should be able to provide your Bearded Dragon with fresh water on a daily basis without the juice and they should happily drink it now they know that this water source is an easy convenient way to keep hydrated.
Train Your Bearded Dragon to Get Used to You (Help For New Owners)
Generally speaking, Bearded Dragons are very placid and easy-going reptiles and will warm to a new owner very quickly once they understand you aren’t a predator and you are a source of food.
Having said this, there are certain situations where this may not be the case. I’ve has a few people contact me in the past and say that they have taken on a Bearded Dragon that was mistreated by the previous owners.
Among the multiple problems they encounter, the main issue always seems to be that the Bearded Dragon is very defensive or even aggressive whenever the new owner comes near them, as a result, the owner can’t even pick the Bearded Dragon up and feeding times and tank cleaning times extremely difficult.
This is totally understandable and some training is required to show your new pet that you mean them no harm and you are friendly.
Here’s a simple way you can do this, although I must stress that patience is key and not to rush things.
Step 1 – Use tweezers to place 1 cricket close to you in the tank so your Dragon has to come close to get it (It doesn’t matter what insect you use really but I’ll use crickets for this example). Then keep giving 1 cricket at a time until the mealtime is over. Don’t try and touch your Bearded Dragon at this point, just let them know you are a source of food and they need to come close to you to eat. Do this at every mealtime for at least 5 days.
Step 2 – After repeating this for 5 days, do the same again. Feed around 4-5 crickets individually and when you feed the 6 crickets this time as your Bearded Dragon takes the cricket stroke their back softly for just a second. Then repeat this process of only stroking the back gently once for every 5-6 crickets you feed.
Step 3 – Repeat this process every day but gradually start to gently stroke more and more often until you are stroking your Bearded Dragon after every cricket they take. Once you get to this point they will now associate you with food and also associate the stroking with food as well as seeing you as friendly.
Step 4 – You are now ready to try and stroke your Dragon without food being present. Use the same gentle technique, take it slowly and you should be able to stroke them without them being scared or showing any signs of aggression.
Once you feel confident enough and you feel like you’ve trained them to trust you, you can pick them up and start to build that real bond of trust.
Training Is Great For Building a Bond
Training your Bearded Dragon can be used for many different things but sometimes it’s great for simply building a bond.
Bearded Dragons spend a lot of their time in their tanks and I’ve found that owners that spend time with their Dragons outside the tank generally have the closest and healthiest relationship with their pet.
It really doesn’t matter if you are training them to come when their name is called or training them to play fetch, the quality time spent with your pet is priceless and something you shouldn’t take for granted.
Many More Situations to Train a Bearded Dragon
There are literally endless ways and reasons to train a Bearded Dragon to do something. In this post, I’ve given you the most common and practical situations where you may need to train your Dragon but there are many less common situations where you could use the principals in this post to your advantage.
For example, I recently had a question from a Bearded Dragon owner that had recently bought a harness for their Dragon and was struggling to get them to keep it on as they didn’t like the concept of it and did everything they could to get it off.
The owner asked me if I could give any tips for this situation, so using the principles in this post it would be a good idea to put the harness on the Bearded Dragon at mealtimes and take it off straight away after the meal is finished.
Very quickly the Dragon would associate the harness with meal times and be much more accepting of the harness.
Obviously, you always need to make sure that the harness is fitted correctly and not causing any pain or discomfort to your Bearded Dragon and if after using this technique they still didn’t want it on then you would keep it off them but my main point here is that there are many situations where you can train a Bearded Dragon when you think outside the box.
Do Bearded Dragon like a cuddle? All Bearded Dragons have different personalities. Some like to lounge in the basking area all day and not be disturbed while others like to cuddle and play. Generally speaking, Bearded Dragons are very placid reptiles and won’t reject a cuddle.
Can you play with a Bearded Dragon? Bearded Dragons all have individual personalities and some will like to play more than others, however, they spend a lot of time in their tanks so it’s highly recommended to offer them fun activities and play as this is great for both mental stimulation and exercise.
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