Generally, dogs love food and love to eat. There's little a dog won't eat. Usually a dog will eat a meal whenever he's given the opportunity. If you're trying to decide between serving breakfast or dinner to your dog, consider your schedule. The most important thing in choosing mealtime for your dog is establishing a schedule and sticking to it.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals describes three methods for feeding an adult dog:
- Portion-controlled: Measure a specific amount of food and serve it as a meal. This is ideal for controlling weight and for dogs who would overeat if free-fed.
- Free-feeding: Leave food available at all times of the day so your dog can eat as much as he wants, when he wants.
- Timed feeding: Serve a specific portion of food for your dog to eat in a given amount of time. Anything not consumed at the end of the allotted time should be removed.
Free-feeding generally is discouraged because it can lead to obesity and make it difficult to motivate a dog with food if that's your preferred training method. WebMD notes unlimited food access can make house-training more challenging. The website states that an established feeding time can serve as a signal about when it's time to go outside to use the bathroom. Establishing a fixed-time for dinner or breakfast maintains a healthy food drive, helpful for training, and reinforces housebreaking habits introduced during puppyhood.
Morning or Evening
There is no established rule about whether morning or evening is a better time to feed your dog. A food-oriented dog fed in the evenings may misbehave during the course of the day out of frustration or hunger. On the flip side, he may be skittish or wild during the evening if he's been all day without food since his morning meal. If it's an either/or proposition for you, choose a time that you will adhere to. For example, if your work schedule means you can't be prompt with an evening meal, build time into your schedule to feed your dog in the morning before you go to work.
Twice a Day
Mealtime doesn't have to be an either/or proposition. Consider feeding your dog morning and evening, as The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals recommends. Instead of making your dog wait all day or all night, divide his daily allotment in half, feeding him at a scheduled time in the morning and evening. Two meals a day, spaced 8 to 12 hours apart, may help your dog digest his food better and will help control his hunger.
If your dog is a growing puppy, discuss the appropriate feeding schedule and puppy food with your vet. A young puppy should eat three meals a day, approximately five hours apart, until he's around 6 months old. Your vet can recommend an appropriate food, serving size and schedule based on your puppy's breed.