Top 6 Ways for Bonding with a Bearded Dragon

Bearded dragons aren’t naturally sociable animals, so you probably want to get in some bonding time to make sure that you have the perfect relationship.

If you’ve just brought a young bearded dragon into your family, they might appear a little standoffish at first. The trick is to not dive in straight away.

Picking them up immediately is likely to scare them off. It takes time and patience to bond with a bearded dragon, but once you’ve created the best relationship, you won’t regret it. 

Bear in mind that bearded dragons, being reptiles, don’t have the same emotional scale as mammals do. It’s likely that you’ll never bond with a bearded dragon in the same way as you would with a dog or cat.

However, they can learn to trust you and may even enjoy your company, which is extremely rewarding.

Here are the 6 things that you absolutely must do to make sure that you and your bearded dragon are happy together. 

1. Handling

Step 1

You can’t just jump in on day one and start picking your bearded dragon up for a cuddle. In the wild bearded dragons are prey for birds, snakes or other predators.

To them, being picked up is always going to feel like a bad thing at first, because their instinct tells them that you’re a predator.

Your job is to convince them that being picked up is a good thing and makes them feel more at ease.

The first thing to do is to is place your hand by the side of them so they can see it. Leave your hand to rest there for a while and allow them to inspect it if they want to.

They might want to lick your hand to taste or smell you. This is a good thing as they’ll gradually get used to your smell and won’t see you as a threat. 

Step 2

Once you’ve done that for a few days and you’re confident that they’re happy, begin stroking their back, just so they get used to being touched.

Always approach them from the side and not from above so they can see what you’re doing. 

Step 3

Once they’re okay with that and they don’t flinch when you touch them, then it’s time to pick them up. Approach them from the side again and gently lift them around their chest area.

Don’t squeeze and never pick them up by their tails. Place them on a flat surface as soon as you can so they can feel comfortable with their legs on the floor.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll hate being picked up as it makes you feel like you’re not in control.

It’s the same for them.   

2. Playtime

So, you’ve mastered picking them up correctly and your bearded dragon feels comfortable with you doing it. The next step is to have some fun with them.

Why not buy them some toys? Bearded dragons are naturally curious and will appreciate enrichment toys that encourage their natural behavior.

They’ll appreciate the activities as they relieve boredom, plus, you’ll get some amazing pictures for Instagram. 

You could try a plastic tunnel like below, so that you can watch them crawl through, or perhaps get them a crinkle ball for them to push along with their nose.

Prosper Pet Tunnel

3. Bath Time

Despite being from the desert, bearded dragons love water. It’s also good for their skin and helps them to shed more easily. Once a week, fill a bath with warm water and let them paddle about.

It’ll make them feel really relaxed. If you put your hand in the water and gently splash around with them, they’ll probably come over to play with you too. 

You can learn more here about how to bath a bearded dragon.

4. Be Present

The best way to grow the relationship is to be around a lot. Although they aren’t capable of developing loving feelings towards you, they will develop feelings of trust and safety associated with you.

To create these, you’ll need to be the person that your bearded dragon sees and smells the most.

They should associate you with positive things.

To make sure you’re constantly present in their lives you should have their terrarium in a place where you’re often visible, facing your sofa for example.

They’ll learn to recognize your movements and feel at ease when you’re there as they know you’re not a threat. 

5. Breakfast Time

To make sure that your bearded dragon associates you with positivity, the easiest thing to use is food. Food is the way to all animal’s hearts, including ours!

If they get something tasty every time they see you, you’ll start to notice signs that they want to see you more often. They might even start to come up to the front of the terrarium to see you.

You could try giving them a tiny piece of fruit when you get them out.

Bearded dragons love fruit, though they shouldn’t have too much as it contains a lot of sugar. Presenting them with a piece of fruit as a reward for coming out for some bonding time will quickly put you in their good books. 

6. Respect Their Boundaries

Although your bearded dragon will gradually get to a point where they enjoy your company and you can spend time with them, you also need to know when to back off.

You’ll have spent a lot of time gaining their trust and getting to a point where they want to spend time with you, but sometimes they’re just not feeling it.

Because they’re solitary animals in the wild, they do enjoy their alone time.

They’re also always wary of predators, so if you approach them in the wrong way, it can put them off. If your bearded dragon backs away from you when you go in to pick them up, then you need to learn to respect that.

Don’t let it dishearten you though, they’re probably just not in a playful mood. 

Forcing your bearded dragon to come out and spend time with you is likely to be a negative experience for them and it can ruin the trust that you’ve built.

These can be signs of stress or that your dragon feels threatened:

  • Hissing
  • Biting
  • Head Bobbing
  • Stomping

If this happens, leave them for a few hours and try again. You can find out more here about bearded dragon behaviors.


There are lots of different ways that you can effectively bond with your bearded dragon to create the perfect, life-long relationship. But these relationships don’t happen overnight.

The most important thing is to respect their instincts.

Remember that they’re always in fight or flight mode because they normally have to watch out for predators. If you understand the reasons for your dragon’s behavior, it’s much easier to develop trust and a strong bond. 

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bearded dragon bonding

  • 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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