What's the Best Time of Day to Train Your Dog

Woman walking her dog first thing in the morning.

Don’t you just hate it when your best friend, who is all chipper, calls you at 6 a.m. to go for a run… She knows that you’re a late night bookworm! I mean, BFFs are great and all but they have to synch their schedules. Particularly when one is a morning person and the other is an evening person. The same is true for you and your furry BFF. But, how do you know if your dog is a morning or evening pup? When is the best time of the day to train your dog?

Your Dog Gives You Clues

It’s widely known that on average a dog sleeps about 12 to 14 hours a day. Puppies sleep even more. But unlike us, dogs sleep on and off throughout the day, and pretty much all night long. Unlike cats, who are more nocturnal.

So, with all of that sleeping, how do you know when is the best time of the day to train your dog?

By the clues your dog gives you.

Capitalize on the clues!

Breakfast Energy

Some dogs learn that they get food first thing in the morning. So, these keen Fidos tend to get up early. They can even learn to wake you up in order to get some food. So, this means you have them right where you want them!

Before you give your hungry dog breakfast, get in a little training. It doesn’t have to be much. Sit and stay are often great things to teach your dog when they are hungry. First things first however - and this means potty time. So, teach your dog to relieve him or herself first thing prior to the training. Then, once that is all taken care of, it’s time for the learning magic to happen.


Teach your dog the sit command while you prepare his/her breakfast. This is a fairly easy command for a dog to learn, particularly if you train using our dog training app. However, if you need a quick tip, here you go:

  • Take a piece of your dog’s food and let him/her see it. This will increase their desire to listen to you.
  • Slowly close your hand with the piece of food in it.
  • Bring your closed hand as close to your dog’s nose as possible.
  • Slowly guide your hand up and over your dog’s head to the back of his/her neck.
  • Your dog should instinctively sit down, and this is a good time to use the word “sit.”
  • If your dog doesn’t sit, but instead twists his/her head around, make sure your hand with the food is very close to your dog’s body. If it is and s/he still twists, teach the sit command with your dog in a corner. This will pretty much guarantee learning this necessary command.

If you are working with an anxious dog, then just capitalizing on the ‘sit’ training is good. But, if your dog can pay attention for a little longer, work in the ‘stay’ command. This one is relatively easy with food.

  • Make sure your dog stays in the ‘sit’ position.
  • Prepare your dog’s breakfast.
  • Use the word ‘stay’ throughout this time so that your dog begins to learn that you don’t want him/her to move.
  • If your dog moves, stop what you are doing. Turn to face your dog and reposition him/her back to the spot you want your pup in and retrain the sit command (without food). Once your dog is sitting, hold your hand up and repeat the word ‘stay,’ and slowly walk backwards to the counter to resume making the food. Repeat the word stay each step in order to help anchor the requirement in your dog’s brain. Repeat the word ‘stay’ and then turn around to finish preparing the food.
  • Don’t turn and look at your dog, just repeat the word ‘stay.’
  • Once done, don’t make a big to-do about the food. Simply turn around with the food in the dog bowl, and say the word ‘stay’ while you place the bowl onto the ground. Repeat the word ‘stay’ as necessary in order to keep your dog understanding that you do not want him/her to move.
  • When you are ready, say the word ‘okay’ in a happy, cheerful voice and use your hand to indicate ‘come here.’
  • Your dog will then come to the bowl.

What Other Clues

Typically, your dog will give you the “I want to play” clues once s/he wakes up from a nap. This tends to be an hour to two hours post the first meal of the day. A dog shows their desire to play with you by play-bowing and acting a little frisky and bouncy. This is a great time to capitalize on for training! First, you’ll want to make sure your dog goes to the bathroom and perhaps a walk to help get rid of his/her zoomies. Now, you are ready to begin the training!

Pre Bed-Time Training?

When you and your dog are ready for bed, this is a great time for some easy training. This will help build a solid night time routine. Use treats, and give them in exchange for your pup allowing you to:

  • Brush him/her.
  • Brush his/her teeth.
  • Dress him/her in night clothes (if you do this).
  • Routines before bedtime - these can include:
    • Bowing head down, as if in a prayer.
    • Laying down in their bed/crate, as in imitating sleep.
    • Rolling over, wrapping themselves in a little blanket. 

Just use your imagination! Create routines that you and your dog will perform every night. Dogs thrive on routines. If you would like some ideas, check out our doggy pal Whiskey in the video below.

When Is The Best Time Of The Day To Train Your Dog?

It totally depends on you and your dog. But, you can always build in training times when you routinely feed your dog. Oh, Rover… You are definitely motivated by food, aren’t you! Well, capitalize on your dog’s natural drive for food. Also, pay attention to your dog’s patterns. Just like humans, they will give you hints as to when they are more naturally inclined to learn. Typically, this is when they show signs of playfulness. And, who doesn’t love playing (a.k.a. training) with their dog!

Rebecca Sanchez

Rebecca Sanchez lives in Seattle with her husband and three dogs and is a published author, and nationally recognized leader in the pet industry. Known as The Pet Lifestyle Guru™ Rebecca firmly believes “we need animals as much as they need us!” Rebecca specializes in researching and writing about holistic dog health and nutrition, and develops DIY recipes designed to enhance a pup's well-being.


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