If you have just gotten a bearded dragon as a pet, you probably want to bond with your bearded dragon quickly. While bearded dragons as pets are not like cuddly or affection-seeking dogs, and bonding can be more challenging, it’s totally worth it when you do. So how do you bond with your bearded dragon, and how long will it take?
Bond quickly with your bearded dragon through correct handling, bathing, hand feeding, offering rewards, spending time with them, and feeding them their favorite foods. Some fun bonding activities include swimming, playing together, and going for walks.
Bonding with your beardie takes time and can be challenging if you don’t know how. In this article, we’ll show you have to bond with your bearded dragon quickly.
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The Best Ways To Bond With Your Bearded Dragon Quickly
Bonding with your bearded dragon will require patience and persistence. When attempting to bond with your beardie, you must always ensure they are not feeling stressed and that you are gentle.
It is normal behavior for your bearded dragon to show aggression at first. This is typically hissing or showing you an open mouth. These are signs that they feel uncomfortable.
Don’t take this personally, remember you’re still a stranger to them, and bonding will take a bit of time.
Here are some of our favorite methods to bond safely and quickly with your beardie.
If you’ve just gotten your bearded dragon, you may be tempted to pick them up and cuddle right away. But your bearded dragon may not enjoy this at first.
Handling requires trust, and the more you handle your beardie, the more they will begin to trust you and form a bond.
When you handle your beardie, make sure that you are keeping all your movements calm and slow, this will not stress your bearded dragon.
One way of keeping them calm before you attempt to pick them up is by slowly reaching your hand out in front of their face and gently petting them under their chin. This method is great for calming a stressed bearded dragon.
If they are still distressed and showing other signs of aggression, like the inflated black beard and an open mouth, you should stop and try again once they are calm.
This might happen a couple of times, but your beardie will eventually get used to you and let you handle them.
Make sure you are using the correct handling techniques when you do. Here’s how to properly handle your beardie:
- Approach your beardie front in front of its face, not from above or behind
- Gently place your hand under their belly and scoop them onto your hand
- Make sure you support their entire body
- When putting them down, ensure their legs and body are in contact with the ground before removing your hand.
Try doing this once daily for 15 minutes to get them used to your scent so they will trust you.
Tip: If you want to learn more about handling your beardie, check out our bearded dragon handling guide.
Bearded dragons love taking baths, and this is a great way to build trust and bond by spending time together.
It’s best to start getting your bearded dragon used to bathing from a baby, but if your beardie is already an adult, do not worry, as this is still simple enough to do.
Make sure that your bathroom is quiet with no loud noises or added stressors. For example, if you have dogs, you should not let them in the bathroom with you and your beardie.
Fill the bathtub, a large container, or even the sink with lukewarm water. Make sure that the water is not higher than your beardie’s shoulder.
While your beardie is water, you can gently wash your beardie by splashing water on its back and belly. Never scrub them. Use only your hand.
Make sure that no water gets in your bearded dragon’s eyes or that it drinks too much water.
One way to make bathing even more enjoyable is to buy some fun floaties for your beardie to climb on and jump off into the water.
If your beardie does not enjoy bathing, a floatie is the perfect way to make it more manageable for them. You can find floaties designed to fit bearded dragons and smaller animals here.
Spending Time Near Them
Bonding with your bearded dragon can mean just being near them without handling or bathing them.
You can do this by spending time near and around their tank, letting them see you outside their tank so they get used to your presence.
Another good way of getting your beardie used to your presence and scent is by placing your hand in their tank. Don’t touch your beardie or pick them by hand. Simply leave your hand in their tank for 5 minutes.
You can do this around 2 – 4 times per day, and remember to do this consistently every day.
Feeding Your Bearded Dragon By Hand
Feeding your bearded dragon by hand is an experience that most bearded dragon owners and their beardies enjoy. It is also a really great way of bonding with your beardie.
Hand-feed your beardie for 10-15 minutes at a time, using insects or plants. If you’re a bit apprehensive about feeding live insects from your hand, we recommend feeding them leafy greens or fruits.
Your beardie may initially be nervous about approaching your hand, but one useful trick to get your beardie more willing to take a step onto your hand is making them fast for two days.
This way, your beardie will be more willing to approach your hand and the food.
Use this method on adult bearded dragons, as it is normal for them to fast for two days a week. Do not use this method on baby bearded dragons.
Who doesn’t like to be rewarded when they do something good? Rewarding your bearded dragon with a tasty treat is great for encouraging bonding and trust.
Pick a food that they really enjoy, like worms or even blueberries, and use it as a way to reward your bearded dragon for trusting you.
For example, while handling them, you can reward your beardie with a treat if they let you handle them without showing any aggression.
You can do this after bath time or anytime that you are engaging in a bonding activity.
Find out what their favorite food is and use that as a reward only for certain actions, for example, when they are on your lap.
Just make sure you are rewarding them within reason to avoid weight gain, as obesity in bearded dragons can create medical problems in the future.
Take Them Swimming
Most bearded dragons love swimming, and this is a good way for you to bond with your beardie while you’re both having fun.
You’ll know if your bearded dragon will like swimming if they particularly enjoy bath time!
Make sure that when you do take your bearded dragon swimming that the water is not too cold, lukewarm water is the best.
The water should not be deeper than your beardies elbows, and definitely, no chlorinated water or salt water should be used.
Never leave your beardie unattended when they are swimming. This is a bonding activity, after all.
Take Them For a Walk
Bearded dragons are naturally curious creatures who love to explore as well as spend time outside of their tank. One excellent activity that you can try is taking them for a walk.
Just like dogs, you can take your beardie out for a walk on a harness and leash. You can get specialized harnesses and leashes just for bearded dragons (we recommend getting this one).
Take your beardie for a walk at your local park, the beach, or your backyard for some fun and exercise.
Always make sure that you are keeping an eye out on your beardies’ whereabouts and that they are not eating foreign insects or objects.
When you and your beardie are out, make sure you are aware of other animals around that might make them feel stressed and anxious.
Not all bearded dragons will enjoy putting a leash and harness on. If your beardie doesn’t like it, don’t force it. Instead of a walk, you can take your beardie out into the garden or let them explore your home under supervision.
Play With Them
Bearded dragons need enrichment and stimulation, so playing with them is a great way of doing this and bonding with your beardie quickly.
There are lots of different and fun ways that you can play with your beardie. Some of our favorite activities include using cat wands.
You can wave around the wand and have your beardie chase it. Just make sure that the wand has no loose feathers, as they may attempt to eat it.
Bearded dragons love playing with balls, and this is a nice bonding activity that you can both engage in.
While they may not play catch like a dog might, they do enjoy nudging them or even trying to “attack” them. Make sure that you are not using balls that are too heavy, as this can cause an injury.
Nor should you use balls that are too small. Ping-pong balls are a great option.
Watch TV With Them
While your beardie may not be as invested in the television series that you are watching, they will enjoy just relaxing with you and being held.
Many bearded dragon owners like to sit with their beardie on their lap while watching television or perched on their shoulders.
When you are watching television with your beardie, it is recommended that you leave the volume at a lower level. Too much noise can stress your beardie out.
How Long Will It Take To Bond With My Bearded Dragon?
Bonding with your bearded dragon is not something that will happen overnight. Bonding takes time and dedication.
There is no definitive timeline on how long it will take to bond with your beardie. It all depends on their personality, how consistent you are, and the methods that you use.
For some beardie owners, it can take up to three months for their beardies to fully trust them. However, it is slightly easier and quicker if you’re trying to bond with a baby bearded dragon rather than an adult.
The key to bonding quickly with your beardie is being consistent, even if some days it feels like you do not see any results.
The more time you spend with your beardie, the more they will learn to recognize your scent and trust you.
Bonding with your beardie takes time, sometimes up to three months, and using some of our tips should help you speed up the process.
Regular handling, bathing, and feeding are some of the greatest ways to quickly bond with your beardie.
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