Bearded dragons are naturally gentle and curious creatures. While you’ll often find your bearded dragon nibbling on greens or basking under its UV light, your scaly lizard friend will also need some daily exercise to remain happy and healthy. A fun way to help your “beardie” stay agile is to walk him on a leash.
Similar to walking a dog, a bearded dragon can be leash-trained using a small reptile leash and harness. Learn more about leash training a bearded dragon and how to safely take your lizard on walks.
Get the Proper Gear
To safely walk your bearded dragon, you’ll need two things: a harness and a leash. A harness can prevent your beardie from escaping and help distribute pressure on the body while walking. You want to avoid putting a leash directly around your lizard’s neck as this could disturb or even block their airway.
Typical harnesses wrap around the front of a bearded dragon’s chest and under the arms. It should not be too tight or too loose, and should be made from a breathable material that will not irritate your pet’s skin. The leash should be thin and made of a lightweight material.
Understand Bearded Dragon Body Language
Before teaching your bearded dragon to walk on a leash, it’s important to have formed a bond with your pet. That starts with understanding lizard body language. Bearded dragons are unable to communicate in words. Therefore, they only have body language to show you how they’re feeling. Some beardies also make sounds, such as growls or even barks.
Be aware of aggressive behaviors that could indicate that your bearded dragon is scared or unhappy. Common signs of distress in bearded dragons include an arched back, hissing, flattened body, whipping tail, or open mouth. Your beardie may also wave his arms when uncomfortable.
Let Your Beardie Get Comfortable
Before attempting to take your bearded dragon for a walk, let him get comfortable just by wearing the harness. Hold your beardie securely in your hand or set him on a flat surface as you put on the harness. You can then allow your pet to roam in a secure area or around his tank.
If you plan to walk your lizard outdoors, you’ll want to let your pet get used to the sights, sounds, and smells of the outside. Take your bearded dragon out for several days before attempting to walk him on a leash. If your pet exhibits signs of stress, bring him back to his tank and try again the next day.
Allow Your Bearded Dragon to Roam Outside
Once your beardie is comfortable with the harness and has been introduced to the outdoors, you can bring in the leash. Secure the leash to the harness and bring your pet outside to a secure area, such as a fenced yard or area where there are no other pets or threats.
With the harness and leash on your lizard, place your beardie in the grass and allow him to wander. Your bearded dragon may be hesitant to move at first but provide him with some reassuring pets. It’s important to remember that it may take time for your pet to become acclimated to the new environment.
How to Walk Your Bearded Dragon
When teaching your bearded dragon to walk on a leash, go slowly and use positive reinforcement. For example, if your beardie has a favorite treat, use it to coax them in the direction you want them to walk. Never force a lizard to walk on a leash. Ultimately, it is their decision.
To increase your odds of successful leash training, start training your bearded dragon to walk on a leash from a young age. Do not forcefully put a baby bearded dragon on a leash but instead wait until the reptile is slightly older. It can be more difficult to train an adult beardie, but it is still possible.
Dos and Don’ts of Leash Training for Beardies
When training a bearded dragon to walk on a leash, there are some dos and don’ts you want to consider:
- Do practice walking your bearded dragon inside your home before venturing outdoors.
- Don’t walk your lizard in a crowded area, such as a playground or park. Also, avoid areas where there may be other pets.
- Do choose to walk your beardie in the right weather conditions. It shouldn’t be too hot or too cold. Ideally, it should be close to its terrarium temperature.
- Don’t let your bearded dragon off-leash, regardless of your trust in the animal. Bearded dragons can and do run away.
- Do go slow and remember that beardies are not dogs. They walk slowly or may choose not to walk at all. Never pull your lizard on a leash.
While most bearded dragons can be trained to walk on a leash, not all can be leash trained. If your beardie continues to resist leash training, consider other ways that your pet can get the exercise he needs, such as swimming in shallow water or giving your pet a tiny ball to push around. You’ll also want to continue to bond with your bearded dragon, as the more time you spend together, the more likely your pet will be to engage in new activities.
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