How To Bond With Your Bearded Dragon [GUIDE]

Are you a new bearded dragon owner?

Do you want to make sure your beardy loves you?

Then it’s essential to know how to bond with your bearded dragon.

To bond with your bearded dragon, you need to build an association between you and your scent with positive, safe, and fun experiences. These can take many forms, but they can include handling, bathing, feeding, calming, playing, and spending time with your pet.

Read on for more details on our six favorite ways to bond with your beardy.

how to bond with your bearded dragon graphic

6 Ways To Bond With Your Bearded Dragon

There are many ways to bond with your bearded dragon.

These are our top 6 choices for how to build a connection with your bearded dragon.

#1 Handling

Bearded dragons enjoy being handled although they may not trust you at first.

The more you handle a beardy, the more it trusts you.

It gathers your scent and recognizes each time.

Make sure you handle your beardy the correct way to keep it safe and build trust.

And if you’re not sure what the correct way is we’ve written a guide to picking up bearded dragons that can help you.

If you don’t have time to read the guide, follow this short version.

  1. Move your hand closer slowly from in front of the reptile’s face.
  2. Scoop the bearded dragon up from under its belly.
  3. Keep all the lizard’s limbs and tail supported.
  4. Use one or two hands as needed to support and hold the beardy in place.
  5. When putting it down, make sure it’s in contact with the ground before removing your hand.

Note: Bearded dragons have a “third eye” of sorts on the top of their heads.

This eye can see changes in light levels.

This is for protection when a predator sneaks up from behind or flies overhead.

If you pick it up from behind, the beardy may become stressed and think you’re a predator. 

If you want to learn more, we have a great post on the bearded dragon third eye covering the topic from top to bottom.

#2 Give It A Bath

Bearded dragons enjoy baths.

It helps their skin, cleans them of bacteria, and helps them stay hydrated.

It’s also a great way to bond with your beardy.

By having your pet associate your scent with positive experiences such as bathing, you build its affection towards you.

Just in case you’re new to keeping these reptiles we have a guide on bathing bearded dragons to help you out and the basics steps below.

  1. Fill the tub with warm water up to shoulder height on your beardy.
  2. Gently put him in and let him adjust to the water.
  3. Clean him by pouring water gently on his back, splashing his belly, and gently brushing as needed.
  4. Play in the water and spend time with him to give him an opportunity to drink more water.
  5. Take out your beardy, pat dry with a towel, and put him in the enclosure to bask.
  6. Clean up the tub after you’re done.

Warning! Bearded dragons aren’t to drink a lot of water or get their eyes wet.

This is why you MUST make sure the water level isn’t above the beardy’s shoulder.

happy bearded dragon

#3 Feed It By Hand

When you feed your bearded dragon, it’s important to let it eat as much as it can in a 10-15 minute time frame.

This is also a time for bonding.

To build associations with food (yay!) and you (double yay!), feed your pet by hand.

This will make the reptile more excited to see/smell you over time.

Feeding by hand is easiest to do on vegetation meals.

The food doesn’t squirm, bite, or jump.

Feed live insects by hand, but some may think this is gross.

Some roaches may bite at you if you’re not careful.

And if you’re not sure what insects to use we have a great post on the best insects to feed bearded dragons that you’ll find very helpful.

You don’t have to do this the entire meal, but a little bit may help build the bridge for bonding.

Warning! Keep your fingers back; bearded dragons can bite (although it doesn’t hurt much or at all in most cases).

Just so you’re prepared for a bite read our post on what to do if a bearded dragon bites you and you’ll be ready if it does happen.

#4 Calm Down Your Bearded Dragon

If you notice your bearded dragon is stressed, this is an excellent opportunity for bonding.

Start by calming your pet down.

There are several ways to calm your dragon down and we’ve written a post going into detail teaching you how to calm down a bearded dragon.

When calming your beardy, it’s now associating you and your scent as a safe influence on its environment. 

#5 Play And Explore

Take your dragon out and let it roam around different areas (safely).

Find appropriate toys and props for it to interact with.

If you’re not sure what to use for a toy we’ve written a post and reviewed several great toy options for your bearded dragon if you want to give it a quick look.

During this time, make sure it knows you’re there.

This way, it associates safety & fun with you.

Over time, it may even change its color as a way to communicate with you when it wants to play and explore.

#6 Be Patient And Be There

None of this is done in one day or even a week, but consistently connecting with your beardy over time can build those bonding associations.

Make sure you do these strategies as often as possible, especially with younger bearded dragons.

bearded dragon posing with leaves

How Do Bearded Dragons Show Affection?

Bearded dragons show affection in sometimes unusual ways.

In most cases, affection is mostly shown through trust.

If you see these behaviors, your beardy may like you.

  • Relaxing on you
  • Climbing onto your hand to be handled
  • Licking your hand (gets your smell)

Bearded dragons are pretty unique among lizards because they bond quickly and do actively show affection.

Most other lizards tolerate your bond rather than embracing it.

If these type of behaviors interest you we have written on nearly all of them.

Two of the behaviors pet owners frequently ask about are why their bearded dragon often keeps their eyes closed and what licking from a bearded dragon means so we’ve linked to them here if you want to learn more about those behaviors.

Can Bearded Dragons Recognize Their Owners?

Yes! Bearded dragons are smart creatures.

The primary way they remember things is through their sense of smell.

As with many other reptiles, bearded dragons smell by collecting air molecules on their tongue when they “lick” the air.

Bearded dragons are known to love the smell of their owners and get excited when they come near after you’ve spent a lot of time bonding with them.

Here’s a post on how smart bearded dragons are if you’re interested in learning more.


Conclusion

We hope you enjoyed learning about how to bond with your bearded dragon.

It all comes down to associating your presence with fun, safe, and positive experiences.

Good luck becoming friends with your beardy!

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