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Should A Dog Eat Before Training?

So, you have enrolled your dog in a training class. How exciting! Now you are wondering, should a dog eat before training? Will you have an angry dog if it is not fed when it is hungry? Lots of questions. And those are the right questions. You want to make sure you know what is best for your dog before starting any training.

A dog should NEVER eat right before exercising or strenuous training. A dog could suffer from bloat if they do too much physical activity right after eating. Bloat is serious and life-threatening for dogs. It causes the stomach to swell and twist over itself creating a blockage. Bloat can be fatal to dogs if not taken care of quickly.


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Should a dog eat before training? That is the question today. We here at Dog House Times will be giving you that answer today. Today we will be going over:


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  • How to prepare your dog for training 
  • Bloat in dogs
  • What to do if your dog is experiencing bloat

Now without further ado, shall we move on? 

How To Prepare Your Dog For Training

You might be surprised to find out that in your first class of training, it may only be humans present. This is an excellent opportunity to discuss with the trainer what to expect. There will be fewer distractions without your dog and other dogs.   

With most dog training classes, it is mandatory to have your dog up to date with all its vaccines before your first class. This will help protect your dog, and other dogs it comes in contact with. Bring an original copy of your dog’s vaccine record as most trainers will not accept photocopies. The dog trainer won’t keep it, so don’t worry about that. It is also a good idea to bring your dog’s health record as well.

For maximum benefit, be sure to bring any supplies the dog trainer has recommended. Some things may be things like:

  • Your dog’s favorite treats
  • Collar with ID tags
  • A non-retractable leash 
  • A clicker 

It is also recommended that you bring a few different types of food rewards that you think will motivate him best. You may find that your dog responds better to its favorite toy. So you may decide to bring as a motivator over food treats. 

Should A Dog Be Hungry For Training?

Here is the question everyone has been asking. Should a dog be hungry for training, or should a dog eat before training? When taking your dog to train for some light training like obedience, make sure it at least has had its breakfast. You don’t want your dog so hungry that it is not paying attention. Some dogs can even get aggressive if their food schedule is changed. How would we like it? Well, we know we don’t like it. We all know those days when you spend more time than usual in the rush hour. Most likely, by the time you get home, you are ready to pull out the gloves.  

Breakfast should not be a large meal. You don’t want them to fall asleep just before you have to take them to their first dog training class. Some dogs are harder to wake up than others. And even harder to get them to do something when they have full bellies and are sleepy. Let’s make sure our furry friends get their food at the designated time and portions equal to the time of day. 

Then there are dogs that need to eat a considerable amount of food if they are to do any strenuous exercise and training. They need the energy to keep them going and alert. However, you must give your dog time to digest its food. While there is no exact time as to how long this takes, 2 hours seems to be the recommended time.

You may not know, but dogs are prone to get ‘bloat’ if they participate in physical activity shortly after they have eaten. They can also get bloat if they take in too much air after eating a big meal. This is a severe condition that can be fatal to dogs if not treated right away. Bloat can cause your dog’s stomach to swell. It then twists over itself, which creates a blockage. This is life-threatening to the dog if not treated swiftly.

Bloat comes in phases. We will give you those phases, so you are prepared if your dog ever experiences bloat. 

Just before the first phase- gas accumulates in the stomach, but the stomach is not emptying as it should. You will notice that your dog may seem uncomfortable, but nothing has changed in their behavior. 

Phase 1

The stomach starts to twist and dilate. You will notice that your dog is drooling, moving around anxiously, and its belly is now swollen. At this point, call your vet and let them know you think your dog is experiencing bloat. Get advice from them on what to do. They may tell you to bring the dog into the office right away. 

Phase 2

The blood supply to part of your dog’s stomach is cut off. The twisting and swelling increase and the dog will go in to shock. Your dog at this point is drooling A LOT, is very restless and whining. You will also notice panting. The dog will stand with its legs apart and head hanging. Their gums will be dark red. Your next step is to get your dog to the veterinarian or emergency animal clinic right away. Have someone in your family call ahead to let them know you are coming. 


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The veterinarian may have to perform emergency surgery to untwist your dog’s stomach. The dog will also need a fluid drip.

Phase 3

The shock your dog is facing is now severe. Your dog will not be able to stand at this point. And their stomach will be extremely swollen and breathing very shallow. Take your dog to the vet or nearest emergency animal hospital. A vet will try to perform live-saving measures. But it may be too late at this point. 

Larger breeds that have a deep chest like the Great Dane are more at risk than other dog breeds. However, any dog breed is at risk. 

Feeding After Training?

You can feed your dog after training, given that the practice was not strenuous. Although just to be on the safe side, it is recommended not to feed a dog for an hour after training. This gives your dog’s stomach time to relax before engorging on a meal. It also gives them enough time to calm down and get into their zen mode. Your dog may even need a nap before eating.

Remember that your dog needs access to clean, fresh water at all times. Regardless of whether or not you feed your dog after dog training.


So, we went over a few things today. I just wanted to make sure you had enough information in regards to dog training and if a dog should eat before training. We have learned how to prepare for dog training classes. This is pretty easy. Make sure you have all your dog’s vaccines up to date along with their health record. Also, remember to bring a non-retractable leash. Dog trainers hate retractable leashes. If you want to know why you can find out here. A bag of your dog’s favorite treats or favorite toy. And lastly, their collar with ID tags. Bring all these, and you are off to the races.

The second thing we learned about today was if a dog should eat before training. Yes, your dog can eat a small meal like breakfast before training. However, the training must be non-strenuous to your dog. And you must not take your dog training until at least two hours after it has eaten. A dog that eats a big meal and starts strenuous training right way is at risk of bloat. We now know that bloat is a serious digestive system health issue that can be fatal to a dog. 


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Lastly, we learned that you could feed your dog after training. However, it is not recommended to feed your dog after training for at least an hour. This gives your dog’s stomach time to relax before getting a big meal. Your dog may not even be hungry after training. Especially if you were rewarding your dog with food treats for doing such a great job with training. 

Well, that just about sums up today’s topic. I hope you found it helpful! We’d love to know your thoughts. Leave us a comment.

Until next time. Be safe, my friends. 


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