Even with the correct lighting setup, it’s wise to take your bearded dragon out for sunbathing. Some owners let beardies sit on their laps or shoulders while outside to keep track of their whereabouts.
However, it’s best to let your beardie walk around as it basks. This helps the dragon remain active and enjoy the surroundings. You have to put him on a leash to keep him safe and to know his whereabouts.
But here’s the tricky part, do bearded dragons like leashes? Can you leash-train them?
Read on to find out.
Do Beardies Like Leashes?
As much as I would like to give a direct answer to this question, I can’t answer it with a simple yes or no. Like with dogs, it narrows down to your bearded dragon’s temperament and what it associates the leash with.
Most dogs associate leashes with walks, so they get excited when you put a leash on them because they know what to expect.
In the same way, a beardie may associate being on a leash with a wonderful outdoor experience and, as a result, may like being on a leash. However, if they’ve had a bad experience with a leash, it’s natural that they’ll dislike leashes.
Again, bearded dragons are not meant to be on leashes. They move freely in the wild, so they may be confused when you put the leash on.
Whether or not a bearded dragon likes being on a leash depends on what they associate the leash with. And if they’re new to leashes, how you introduce them to leashes determines whether they’ll like them or not.
For example, if you choose a leash that tightens the legs and restricts movement, your beardie will dislike it. But if you choose something comfortable for it, take it outside to bask; chances are it’ll look forward to wearing it.
Do Leashes Hurt Beardies?
If the leash is too tight on your pet, it can hurt him. The leash should be comfortable and allow movement; otherwise, it may injure your beardie.
Besides that, never use force to pull the harness. You’re not supposed to pull at all. Your task is to hold the harness to keep track of your pet, but pulling can injure him.
Can All Beardies be Leash Trained?
Leash training is not an overnight task. It takes time, and you need to be patient with your pet.
Despite your effort and commitment to doing everything right, some bearded dragons may never accept leashes. This is beyond you, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
As I said, it depends on your beardie’s personality, and some may not just like leashes, making it hard to leash-train them.
Can Bearded Dragons Walk on a Leash?
Bearded dragons can walk on a leash, but not like dogs. They won’t cooperate when you guide them, so the best thing is to let them walk on their own.
Besides, bearded dragons will only walk on a leash if they feel comfortable wearing it. Beardies are small creatures, so they “pancake” to appear intimidating or hide from predators.
Most leashes interfere with this defense mechanism, so beardies refuse to walk in them.
A lot of owners don’t understand the leash concept. You can’t walk a bearded dragon on a leash like you would a dog. The harness is supposed to help you track your pet’s movements and keep him safe.
If it is going in the wrong direction, don’t pull him. Instead, pick him up and place him on the right path. It may also dislike walking on tall grass, especially if it’s used to being inside a cage.
Pay attention to his reaction when wearing a leash, and help your pet associate it with positive things.
How to Leash Train Your Bearded Dragon
Step 1: Get a comfortable harness for your beardie
There are numerous market harness options, but get one that fits and is comfortable for your bearded dragon. Avoid the collar ones as they put tension on your pet, causing discomfort.
Don’t go for a tight and thin harness, as it will dig into your bearded dragon. In addition, purchase an adjustable one so it can snuggly fit your bearded dragon.
I recommend getting your vet’s opinion on this and going with your beardie to the store, so you don’t miss the size.
Step 2: Put your beardie in a secure place
A flat surface like a table will work. You don’t want him to slip and fall to the ground when putting the harness on, as it will compromise the whole process.
It will feel threatened and scared and may refuse to wear the leash. Also, pick it gently by letting it climb on your hands first so you can put it on a table. Never grab your pet, especially from above.
Step 3: Put on the harness
Now that your pet is in a secure place, put the harness on gently and ensure he’s comfortable wearing it.
Give him a few minutes to get used to the harness. Bearded dragons don’t like anything on their bodies, so it may take time for your pet to adjust.
Try putting the harness on every day and allowing your beardie a few minutes in it. This way, it will get used to wearing it and have an easy time walking in it.
Step 4: Let your beardie walk indoors with the harness on
After a week of wearing the harness and sitting still, put your pet on the floor and let him walk around the house.
He might not do it immediately, but don’t force him. Your job is to observe how it behaves and ensure it is comfortable.
Step 5: Put the beardie on the leash
By now, your beardie is walking comfortably with the harness on. Put him on the leash, but don’t take him out yet. Hold it as it walks around the house.
Do this repeatedly until your pet is comfortable walking around as you hold the leash.
Step 6: Take your beardie outside with the harness on
If the indoor leash training is successful, you can move on to outdoor leash training. Put the harness on without the leash and let your pet roam outside the house. Always keep an eye on him.
Monitor his movements and reactions to ensure he’s comfortable. Do this repeatedly on different days until he’s used to it.
Step 7: let it explore outdoors with the leash
Now add the leash and hold it gently as it walks outside. Remember, never pull the leash or expect him to cooperate like a dog.
Your job is to hold the leash as your beardie walks and put him on safe ground if he’s walking in the wrong direction.
Tips to Help Leash Train your Beardie
Handle your beardie regularly, so he’s used to you. This way, you’ll have an easy time putting the harness on because your pet won’t see you as an intruder.
Ensure he’s relaxed before putting the harness on. Otherwise, it will feel like a threat and the beardie will struggle to remove the harness. Also, say it gently so you don’t arouse any negative thoughts.
Remove the harness immediately if he’s uncomfortable, and leave him alone. Try it the next day when he’s relaxed and comfortable.
Bearded dragons are small pets, so ensure big animals like dogs or cats don’t step on them when walking outside. Don’t take the beardie out when other animals are around, as it might get scared.
But if he’s used to people, objects, and other animals, you can take him to public places. However, you must be very careful in such places, as one wrong thing might scare your pet away. You should also check your local regulations before taking your reptile into public places.
Ensure the ground is not too hot before putting your pet on the ground. A hot surface, especially concrete, may cause burns on your pet’s feet or belly.
If you notice your pet is nervous or stressed, put your hand in front of him and try to calm him down. If he’s still stressed, pick him up and head home.
Leash training is not an overnight exercise and requires a lot of patience. Be patient with it, and don’t push it to walk when it doesn’t want to.
Most bearded dragons can be leash trained. However, some beardies will still dislike leashes no matter how hard you try. And that’s okay because, naturally, bearded dragons are not meant to be on leashes.
The trick is to make your pet associate the leash with something positive. This way, it is likely that the dragon will love being on a leash and get excited when you put the leash on.
Your pet’s first experience on a leash plays a great role in leash training. Make it count, so you both have an easy time during the experience.