Walking a bearded dragon can be a fun activity, but there are some risks to bear in mind. When I go out back with my bearded dragon I usually stick him on my shoulder. He enjoys soaking up some sun, unless he spots a bird of prey in the sky. But actually putting him down on the grass, or even going somewhere with him, has always felt more intimidating – for both of us! In this article, I will explain the do’s and don’ts while taking your bearded dragon out and about on the streets near your home, so you can keep him safe and both have some peace of mind.
- Can I take my bearded dragon for a walk outside?
- Do bearded dragons need walks?
- Signs your bearded dragon is stressed
- Risks to consider when walking a bearded dragon
- Can I put a leash on my dragon?
- Bearded dragon leash training
- Walking a bearded dragon – tips and advice
Can I Take My Bearded Dragon for a Walk?
You will see all types of unusual animals being walked on the streets these days, cats, bunnies, and even pet pigs. So why not give it a try with your bearded dragon? Okay, running laps around the park with your lizard joyfully by your side or playing fetch at the lake is probably out of the question, but that doesn’t mean you and your dragon can’t have fun.
Exploring the great outdoors together may need some planning, but it is possible with the right equipment. You need to make sure you keep your bearded dragon safe from injuries, predators, and escaping.
Do Bearded Dragons Need Walks?
Bearded dragon pets don’t necessarily need walks outside like a dog does. But, this doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy them. Walks can provide mental stimulation and physical exercise – both of which our beardies do need. But, it’s worth noting that walks outside can be stressful for bearded dragons. In some cases, the negative impact of that stress will outweigh the benefits of walks – especially when you can provide exercise and mental stimulation in the safety of your own home.
So, the key takeaway here is that every bearded dragon is different. Some might enjoy walks, but others might be stressed out by them. Observe your bearded dragon and work at their pace if you want to try walking them outside. And, it goes without saying that you’ll need to take steps to keep them safe.
Signs of Stress in Bearded Dragons
Before preparing your bearded dragon for its first excursion, being able to spot any signs of stress in your lizard friend will make the process easier in the long run. If you notice these signs, you should take your beardie home where they feel more secure. Symptoms of stress include:
- Attempts to bite you
- Stress marks (dark marks on the belly and neck)
- Changes to toileting habits
- Losing their appetite
- Hissing at you
- Puffing out their beard
- Mouth hanging open
Of course, a lot of things can stress out our beardies. But, if you notice any of these behaviors on a walk, it’s likely that something outside is causing the stress.
Risks to Consider When Walking a Bearded Dragon
Walking a bearded dragon outside can have some benefits, but you should always weigh these up with the risks. Here are some dangers to be aware of before choosing to take your beardie outside:
- Your dragon could escape
- Injuries from cars, ingesting things they shouldn’t, etc.
- Improper temperatures
- Fearfulness from loud noises, predators, etc.
- A stressed beardie
If you’ve weighed up these risks and found a safe place to walk your pet, you need to think about how you’ll keep them close to you. Most owners choose to use a leash and harness.
Can I Put a Leash on My Dragon?
It takes some time and patience to leash-train a bearded dragon. Ultimately, your dragon’s temperament will determine whether or not it can be leash trained. Unfortunately, no matter how much effort you put in or how well you follow the guidelines, some bearded dragons may never feel comfortable walking on a leash.
Generally, beardies are docile and non-aggressive pets. So, they can be more receptive to being handled than reptiles like chameleons and anoles. This can mean leash training is a breeze, but for some owners it might take a little longer. Patience is key! Here are some tips to make the process smoother.
Buying the Right Leash
For better control, use a harness instead of a collar. Collars are irritating to lizards and easy to escape from, while a harness will keep your beardie safely by your side. Try to get a harness that will not dig into your lizard too much. I suggest a harness leash that can be adjusted to fit your bearded dragon perfectly.
Harnesses designed for ferrets and rabbits are sometimes an excellent fit for larger lizards, such as bearded dragons.
Try the Harness in Familiar Surroundings First
Make sure your bearded dragon is comfortable wearing the harness before starting your stroll. Just slip the harness over your lizard’s head, and it will be ready to explore your home in style. Let them try it on and wear it in the safety of your house several times before venturing outside. By doing this, your little bearded friend will be more relaxed about going outdoors after adjusting to new surroundings and unfamiliar clothing.
Let Your Bearded Dragon Adjust to the Outdoors
To increase your chances of success, you should gradually expose your bearded dragon to the outdoors. Once he gets used to being in his harness, try to take him outdoors for brief amounts of time. Keep it small and increase in small increments over the course of a few weeks so you can monitor whether or not the experience is stressing out your beardie.
Keep Your Movements Slow and Calm
Instead of putting your bearded dragon down on the floor right away, sit on the ground and hold it on your lap. This way, it will feel safe and secure in your presence while it adjusts to its new environment. Let it get off of you when it is ready.
If your bearded dragon shows distress, you should bring it back inside and try again another time. Try to avoid places with too much noise and watch out for birds. Your lizard’s natural reaction to a bird will be to flee and hide. A bearded dragon that becomes scared and runs will likely make a beeline for the nearest tree. Keep a sharp hold of your leash at all times and be ready to take your beardie inside if they’re scared.
Walking a Bearded Dragon
Try taking your bearded dragon for a short stroll after it becomes used to the outdoors. Remember to tread softly and slowly so as not to startle your lizard. Follow closely behind him, and if he starts to go the wrong way, either block his path or redirect him. Take your lizard home and try another day if he wriggles or attempts to escape.
It’s important to remember that it might take weeks before your bearded dragon is comfortable enough to walk on a leash. Take your time with the whole process. Work at your beardie’s pace. You’ll likely need a lot of patience when helping them become familiar with walks outside.
Back to Familiar Surroundings
Don’t forget to put your bearded dragon back in its safe place after some time outdoors. The terrarium offers a secure environment for your lizard. At home, he may relax after a stressful day outside.
Don’t force your bearded dragon outside if it’s scared or stressed. To begin leash training, your lizard must be friendly and calm. Leash training a lizard should be attempted only after it has been tamed and a close relationship has been formed with its owner.
Final Thoughts on Walking a Bearded Dragon
Before taking your bearded dragon for a walk, you should be sure it is happy in its home environment. Try to understand your dragon better by looking for signs of stress in its everyday life. By knowing your dragon, you will quickly notice when it is stressed if you try something new.
Make sure to use a harness instead of a collar, as it is more comfortable for your pet. And try it out in the safety of your own home before venturing outside. Take things slowly, and don’t expect too much for a few weeks. Watch out for birds and keep clear of noisy areas. And never let your bearded dragon off its leash.
More About Keeping Bearded Dragons
- Complete bearded dragon care guide
- Are beetles safe for beardies?
- Can I give my dragon a banana?
- Why do beardies bite?
- What hunts bearded dragons?
- Grenard, S. ‘The Bearded Dragon: An Owner’s Guide to a Happy Healthy Pet’, Howell Book House (1999)
- Stockley, V. (et al), ‘How to Handle Your Dragon: Does Handling Duration Affect the Behavior of Bearded Dragons (Pogona Vitticeps)?’, Animals (2020)
- Whitehead, M. ‘Enter the Dragon?’, The Veterinary Record (2011)