How to Get a Bearded Dragon to Trust You

To get a bearded dragon to trust you, you need to be aware of their feelings and make sure that you approach them in the right way. A strong bond takes a long time to achieve, so make sure you take baby steps.

Don’t assume that your bearded dragon will behave like a dog and immediately love you. They won’t. 

Bearded dragons, being reptiles, are different from mammals. They don’t have the same emotional spectrum.

To get them to trust you, you need to remove as much of that fear as possible.

You need to make sure that they never see you as a threat and will instead understand that when you’re there, it’s a positive thing.

We’ve put together some tips on how you can start to develop your bond to make sure that your bearded dragon learns to trust you.

How to Approach your Bearded Dragon

In the wild, bearded dragons are prey for birds of prey, snakes and occasionally carnivorous mammals. This means that they’re constantly on alert to make sure that they’re safe.

New bearded dragon parents often make the mistake of approaching their baby too quickly or from the wrong angle. Doing this can make you seem like a predator to them and will scare them.

Approaching them in the wrong way can mean that your dragon doesn’t want to be around you and will mean that they don’t trust you.

Because most predators approach prey from above, obviously because they’re bigger, or because they’re flying. You need to make sure you approach from the front or side instead.

If your bearded dragon is young, they won’t be used to being handled, so don’t go straight in for the cuddle. Spend some time with your hand in their terrarium, where they can clearly see you.

Gradually move your hand closer to them to show that you aren’t a threat.

Gradually move your hand closer to them to show that you aren’t a threat. Once you’re close enough, start petting their head gently and gradually moving down their back.

If they start to move, let them.

Don’t force them to be around you just because you’re eager to make friends. It needs to be on their terms. 

How to Handle your Bearded Dragon

Once you’ve got close enough to pet your bearded dragon and you’re confident they feel comfortable, it’s time to move on to the next step. 

Bearded dragons aren’t cuddlers, so set your expectations now. They’re happy to come out with you, and sit next to you, mainly because you’re warm and it’s cozy for them. Don’t crowd them. 

First things first.

  • Wash your hands
  • Gently pet your beardie
  • Place your palm under their body
  • Don’t squeeze just let it rest on your palm
  • Remain calm and still

How to Make your Bearded Dragon See the Time You Spend Together as Positive 

So, you’ve got your bearded dragon to be comfortable with petting and even being handled. They don’t shy away from your hands anymore, which means that they’re not scared by your presence.

We’re halfway there. Now, you need your bearded dragon to not only be okay with you but to trust you and to see the time they spend with you as positive.

There are three main things that your dragon needs and craves, and they need to see you as a part of all of these. 

1. Food

Food is an excellent motivator. It’s natural for people to use food as a reward for a dog when they do something well, so why not try it with your bearded dragon?

When you handle them, why not offer them a food incentive?

This means that every time you go to spend time with your bearded dragon outside their terrarium, they’ll see that as an opportunity for food.

This means they’ll be more eager to see you and you’ll develop a bond of trust because you’re now the food source. 

If your beardie is quite aggressive when you provide food then you could get some long tongs to deliver food directly to your bearded dragon.

This will help to improve the bond between you both whilst also keeping your fingers safe from any little nips or bites.

bearded dragon feeding tongs

2. Fun

Although bearded dragons spend most of their time basking and lazing around, they do need mental stimulation too. When you have them out with you, you should add some toys into the mix.

It’s something different for them and they will see it as a positive experience. Toys such as plastic tunnels and balls are ideal and cheap to purchase from any pet store. 

You could also enjoy bath time together.

Place your bearded dragon in a shallow pool of warm water, so they’re able to stand up without their head being underwater.

They’ll enjoy splashing around in there and you being part of it makes your presence positive.

If you are looking to bath your dragon then you can also introduce some fun for them through some floaties which beardies will love to interact with.

These floaties are a popular choice amongst owners for some bath time play time and are made of a thick material so they won’t get damaged by your beardie.

bearded dragon bath toys

3. Warmth

Bearded dragons need heat. That’s why they spend most of their time basking.

When they’re out of their terrarium, they’ll start to cool down pretty quickly. But you’re a natural heat source.

Try to keep them warm while they’re with you and they’ll want to stay there. 

How will I Know when My Bearded Dragon Trusts Me?

If you’ve done everything correctly and taken everything at your bearded dragon’s pace, you’ll start to see their behavior change over time.

They won’t shy away from your when you open the terrarium, and they might even rush to see you in the morning expecting food. 

You’ll start to notice that they become more and more relaxed around you.

This means that you shouldn’t see any signs of aggression such as hissing or beard bloating. They’ll also lay much flatter as they aren’t on constant alert to get up and run away. 

When they’re in their terrarium you’ll notice them out in the open a lot more.

They won’t be in a hurry to hide in their caves, because they know that you’re not there to hurt them.

The important thing is that you don’t rush things. The longer it takes to build a bond of trust, the stronger it will be. 

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how to get a bearded dragon to trust you

  • About Matthew Cantell

    I was just 15 years of age when I first met a bearded dragon. It was at my friend's house and I instantly grew an immediate attraction to, what has now become, my favourite animal on the planet! Making fantastic pets for both children and adults alike, they each have their own personality and are certainly full of character. There are, though, some important things that we should all know when it comes to caring for these amazing animals!
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