My dog seems to be waking me up earlier and earlier in the morning to be let outside and fed. We used to be on a pretty good schedule. We'd get up at 5 a.m., I'd put him out, and get his breakfast ready while he did his thing. However, for the last couple of weeks, he's been getting me up earlier and earlier. Yesterday he started barking at 3 a.m. wanting breakfast. Today it was 4. The time is about to change, so I fear it's only going to get worse, because he has no clue about a clock. =;)-

There's been no other change in routine for us recently. We eat dinner at the same time and go to bed at the same time.

How can I get this guy back on a decent schedule? I could really use a whole night's sleep again.

  • Where do you live? We've had our guy fuss in the morning because of the clock change in the UK too. But he's alarm trained so he'll chill out in a few days.
    – Aravona
    Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 10:02
  • In the Eastern U.S. The time hasn't changed here quite yet @Aravona but I expect that to make it worse on us.
    – RubberDuck
    Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 10:39
  • What time do you put him to bed? Does he gave a bedtime routine like you do for a kid? How old is he? :)
    – Aravona
    Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 10:43
  • Yeah, I know, right?! Lol. He goes to bed between 9 & 10 when we do. I'm not sure we exactly have a "routine" though. He's approx 2 yrs old. We're not exactly sure because he's a rescue, but we've had him for about a year.
    – RubberDuck
    Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 10:49
  • fair enough none of that seems a big issue so the only other thing I can think of is he actually wanting breakfast or is he wanting to go out for a toilet and is just asking? Has anything changed in that respect for him?
    – Aravona
    Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 10:52

2 Answers 2


I breed springer spaniels. Consequently, I've had a number of different dogs under my roof since I started (bitches/studs I've borrowed, dogs I've watched while the owners were away etc.)

This problem isn't uncommon. It's almost always a consequence of one of two things:

  1. Giving into the dog's request to get up earlier.
  2. Getting the dog off schedule (i.e. changes in feeding times, walks, bathroom opportunities, etc.)

Often the two go together: you wake up earlier (or he wakes you up earlier), so you feed the dog breakfast earlier, so he gets hungry for dinner earlier, so you feed him earlier, so he gets hungry for breakfast earlier (or has to go #2 earlier), so he wakes up earlier.

First, wait out his barking for two to four nights; they almost always quickly learn that barking is futile. Second, feed him about four hours before bed (it takes about four hours for him to convert the food into a #2), then take him out for a walk before bed and make sure he does a #1 and #2 on that walk. If you do that, he won't have any reason to wake up early (he won't need to go to the bathroom and he won't feel hungry, etc.).

  • It can take from 30mins for a dog to produce a poo after eating, depending on size, age and breed.
    – Aravona
    Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 8:40
  • Four hours is the mean. I haven't found digestion times to vary much between dogs. In any case, if the dog doesn't #2 on his before-bed walk, then the dog needs more time to digest, and so the asker should feed him incrementally earlier each day until he gets a #2 from him on that walk.
    – Hal
    Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 13:01
  • from my dog trainer and vet its from 30mins but it depends on the age of the dog. The OP did say he thinks it's more about hunger than toileting.
    – Aravona
    Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 13:03
  • 30 minutes? That's almost free-fall. That would make dogs very unusual. Digestion proceeds slowly for a reason: it allows the gut to sap all the nutrients out of food. In humans, it takes over 12 hours to move food through the large intestine (see Wikipedia's article on human digestion) . Perhaps they said it takes 30 minutes to "digest", and by digest, they meant 'move the food from the stomach to the small intestine. Digestion is a slow process
    – Hal
    Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 13:11
  • a quick google starts anywhere from 20minutes. Some breeds, smaller ones certainly, and younger dogs definitely poo faster than 4 hours after eating. Sources being my vet and dog trainers. Note the word FROM. Also they don't necessarily poo what they ate 30minutes ago, it could be breakfat coming out fter eating dinner.
    – Aravona
    Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 13:15

There are a few options here I think which will depend on your regular routine more than anything.

Firstly the usual way to prevent a bad barking habit, no matter the time of day, is to grit your teeth and ignore it. Eventually he'll realise barking means that you will not come down and he'll stop using it to gain your attention. This means ear plugs, apologies to neighbours and not going down to him to give him his breakfast. This is how I addressed the situation with my own puppy when he barked. This can be eased with a quiet radio as some dogs wake up, dislike the silence and whine or bark. Reinforce this by not going to him if he starts barking on your way to give him breakfast, 10-15 seconds should do.

In addition to this our pup is alarm trained, we turned the volume up on our alarm, so he could hear it. Alarm means we're awake and we're getting up, which means garden, breakfast and fun can happen... It also meant we could push the alarm back at weekends and gained ourselves an extra hour. He'd wait for the alarm before giving a whine (the older he's gotten the less he has barked anyway).

You can, and this is more just to treat the symptoms not the problem itself, think about using a timed feeder. We use these for our pups treat dispersal throughout the day, and we used to use them to feed our cat - most come with an ice pack to keep the food fresher. Obviously this is more for hunger based early rising, as discussed in the comments and won't aid him wanting to go outside.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.