Are you tired of searching your bearded dragon’s tank for its dropping?
Do you wish you could get your beardy to go in one place for easy cleanup?
Believe it or not, it’s possible to train these reptiles to go in specific places through a couple of different methods.
Training your bearded dragon to go in a single place can help make cleanup easier, or it can avoid all feces in the tank altogether.
Read on for the two main methods and learn how to potty train a bearded dragon.
Table of Contents
Potty Training Bearded Dragons On Litter Boxes & Paper Towels
In this method, you’ll be training your adult bearded dragon to go in a dish using a paper towel as a leading trigger.
For this method, you need the following items:
- Paper towel
- A substrate or reptile carpet
- Dish or litter box
This method is the one that bearded dragon owners most commonly recommend.
It takes some time and patience, but it follows a good learning practice.
Some owners dislike this method because it takes a while and may not work right away, but it’s suggested so often it must work for most people.
#1 Paper Towel On the Ground
First, you’ve likely noticed your bearded dragon has an area where it feels most comfortable going to the bathroom.
While it may vary some, most reptiles tend to go in a fairly consistent spot.
Place a paper towel on top of this spot, and wait.
After a time (it may take up to days depending on the age of your dragon), your bearded dragon may go potty on this towel.
Then, it’s time to move to the next step.
#2 Add Substrate To The Towel
After the beardie has defecated on the paper towel, it’s time to start preparing for the transfer to the tray or litter box.
As a training step, you need to put a little bit of substrate (such as appropriate sand) onto the paper towel.
Once your pet has a bowel movement on the substrate, you need to increase the amount.
I recommend repeating this at least three times to make sure he’s got it.
Note: Remember, this can take days to happen.
Adult bearded dragons don’t go to the bathroom every single day; it can take multiple days in some cases.
#3 Paper Towel In The Tray
After this has been done several times with the substrate, it’s time to transfer to the tray or litter box.
Put the litter box, bowl, small tray, or whatever you’d like to use in the enclosure.
Place a piece of paper towel into the tray.
Pro-tip: Place the tray in the same location where the towel was before.
This helps further associate where it needs to go to the bathroom.
As with the other steps, settle in for a wait until it goes in there.
You may be surprised how quickly these smart reptiles begin picking up these steps at this point.
#4 Add Substrate To The Towel
Once the bearded dragon has pooped in the paper towel in the tray, it’s time to add substrate again.
Do as we did in step #2 by adding a little substrate each time it goes until the paper towel is almost completely covered.
You may want to wait until your pet has successfully pottied three times before moving on to the biggest and final step.
#5 Remove The Towel
After all of this has been done, it’s time to remove the paper towel from the setup.
The only thing you’ll want is the tray with the substrate in it.
At this point, your bearded dragon should be potty trained! Congratulations!
Note: If your bearded dragon doesn’t seem to be working with this method, you have two completely fine options:
- Start all over, but give each step more time.
- Try a different method.
Either way will work, but you need to realize this process takes time, but believe me, the reward is worth it.
Potty Training Bearded Dragons For Bathrooms
The bathroom method is another great option that requires a consistent schedule and works on your part, but it can keep its tank clean for much longer than other methods.
With the litter box method, you’ll still need to clean the tray out often (but it will be easier).
With this method, you only need to clean the tank out for its regular cleaning (no spot cleans needed!)
For more information on regular cleaning, check out our article on how to clean a bearded dragon tank.
For this method, you’ll need the following:
- A consistent schedule
- A place to bathe your dragon
- Bearded dragon treats ( such as these healthy ones by Flukers on Amazon)
Essentially, the goal of this method is to train your bearded dragon to go to the bathroom only at a specific time when it’s in the water.
#1 Notice Your Dragon’s Bathroom Schedule
The first thing you need to do for this method is to pay attention to your bearded dragon’s potty schedule for a while.
You may already know this information.
If you do, skip to the next step.
If you’re confused, read on.
What you’re watching for is the period of time your bearded dragon goes poop.
Times may vary, but most bearded dragons tend to poop on a fairly consistent schedule.
It may take you up to a week or longer to get a handle on this information, but once you do, you’re ready for the next step.
#2 Quick Bathe Your Dragon
From 30 minutes to an hour before your beardy’s normal potty time, you need to take him out of his tank for a quick bath.
Go to your sink or place you plan on using as a bathroom regularly.
Fill it up with warm-hot water no higher than the shoulder height of your bearded dragon.
Put your bearded dragon in the water and wait.
Being in warm water makes it easier for bearded dragons to poop (it’s also a solution for constipation).
Wait until the bearded dragon goes poop.
If you’d like to, gently rub your pet’s belly to help it along.
For more information on bathing in general, check out our article on how to bathe a bearded dragon.
#3 Clean Up And Dry Off
After your pet has gone potty, pick him up, and take him out.
Let the water out and clean up the area using soap and warm water.
Depending on the container you used, you may also want to have a net nearby to scoop out the feces.
Pat dry the bearded dragon with a soft towel (don’t rub-dry) and place him under the basking lamp.
Note: Dry first, give him a treat, put him under the lamp, and then clean up if you’d like.
Just don’t forget to use soap when doing so.
#4 Give Your Bearded Dragon A Treat
There’s some debate among bearded dragon owners about whether or not giving a treat to your bearded dragon afterward can do anything to reinforce what you’re doing.
I recommend you do it anyway.
Even if the treats aren’t reinforcing the behavior, at the very least, you’re building a bond with your pet, which is proven to be true.
For more bonding tactics hop on over to our article on how to bond with your bearded dragon.
#5 Repeat Daily
This final step is the key to this entire method.
It would help if you did this simultaneously, every day, for as long as possible.
Without this consistency, your bearded dragon won’t learn to hold its feces until it’s in the water.
After a week or so of successful potty breaks, relax the time frame a bit, but don’t wait too long.
Note: If your bearded dragon doesn’t potty at a consistent time, continue training it to your schedule by bathing at a consistent time for a while.
It just may take longer.
After a week or two, your bearded dragon will be potty trained!
Warning! With this method, you will train your dragon to refuse to go poop without water.
This means if you miss a bathroom time one day, it will hold it.
Over multiple missed days, it could get constipated or impacted requiring laxatives to unblock it.
Remember, this method requires a daily bathroom break and a consistent schedule for the first couple of weeks.
Is it really possible to potty train a bearded dragon?
Training your pet bearded dragon is tough regardless of what you’re trying to teach them.
Potty training your bearded dragon is doable but it will take a certain level of dedication and persistence that not everyone will want to go through.
Persistence is key here, without your continual effort your lizard won’t make progress.
How long does it take for a bearded dragon to poop?
After feeding, poop is usually passed in 4-5 days in a healthy bearded dragon.
This will vary depending on the age and species of the bearded dragon.
Other things affecting a healthy bearded dragon poop schedule would be:
- improper diets
- digestive issues
- recent diarrhea or runny poop
- any type of sickness
We have a complete guide to bearded dragon poop we encourage all pet owners to read to be informed on their lizards health.
How long does it take to potty train a bearded dragon?
It will take 1-2 weeks to see noticeable signs of progress in your potty training efforts.
Every bearded dragon will acclimate to their training at different speeds but being consistent will lead to results.
How do you train a bearded dragon not to poop on you?
If your biggest reason for wanting to potty train your bearded dragon is because they poop on you often, you may have some other issues to take care of first.
The biggest reason they would frequently poop on you when picked up is that they’re scared.
Spend more time taming and bonding with your bearded dragon before attempting to potty train them.
It helps if you begin bonding when they are a baby bearded dragon.
They need to have complete trust in you before going through any training.
The best way to go about this is simply spending time with them in stress-free environments.
When you notice them retaining typical behavior in or out of their terrarium while being handled by you, you’ll know you’re making progress and building trust.
But there are some guidelines on the frequency of handling and we have a post dedicated to the topic called how often to handle bearded dragons if you want to give it a read.
Once your bearded dragon is comfortable around you, then resume potty training.
What other trainings can a bearded dragon learn?
Bearded dragons are capable of learning all sorts of different things.
If you’re interested in teaching your bearded dragon to do more once potty trained, here are a few things to train them for:
- Walk on a leash
- Come when called
- Sit on your shoulder
- To be held
Knowing how to potty train a bearded dragon can make your life a whole lot easier.
Make clean up much easier by using the litter box method, or eliminate cleaning up altogether by using the bathroom method.
Both methods take time and match a different type of bearded dragon owner.
It’s up to you know to look at each and decide for yourself which one works best for your style and schedule.
Whichever you choose, have fun training your bearded dragon to make your life easier!