Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Milk-Bone. Dogs give us so much love that they deserve more than ordinary treats. They deserve treats with benefits. Milk-Bone’s Good Morning Daily Vitamin Treats provide beneficial nutrients not found in most dog foods, with a taste your pup will love. Milk-Bone made Gus’ day with a box full of treats and toys, and while he may be easily swayed with food, all thoughts and opinions here are mine.
As you know from my recent post on working out, I’ve been trying diligently to swap out healthy habits for some of my bad ones. Something I’ve struggled with for years is taking my vitamins. I’m embarrassed to admit how many times I’ve engaged in the wasteful cycle of knowing I need to take vitamins, spending a chunk of change on vitamins, taking vitamins haphazardly, letting vitamins expire, and throwing vitamins away. Time will pass and then I’ll tell myself I need to make taking vitamins a priority and I do it all over again.
Once again, Gretchen Rubin and her fabulous book about habits came to the rescue. Rubin suggests using the Strategy of Pairing to form a desired habit. In this strategy, you couple two activities together: one that you need or want to do, and the one that you have difficulty doing. You don’t do one without the other, and in that way you accomplish two things that you need to do at the same time.
I decided to use my deep and abiding love for a cup of coffee first thing in the morning as the pairing companion for taking my vitamins every day. I moved my vitamins from their usual spot in the pantry (out of sight and out of mind) and instead placed them right next to the coffee maker. Now I have to stare at them while I make my coffee, and it’s working! Ever since I paired my morning cup of coffee with taking vitamins, I haven’t missed a day.
In a study of pet owners, Milk-Bone found that 1 out of 3 owners are concerned that their pets are not getting enough of the nutrients they need in their dog food alone. I hadn’t really thought about it before, but it makes sense. Like most pet owners, I already supplement Gus’ diet with treats. By switching a couple of those daily treats with Milk-Bone’s Good Morning Daily Vitamin Treats I can supply him with nutrients he’s missing, like glucosamine to support healthy joints or DHA to supplement overall wellness.
Unlike his humans, Gus doesn’t need any encouragement to take his vitamins. But I’m using the very same strategy of pairing to remember to give Gus his daily dose! There are two times a day which I have, ahem, some difficulty getting Gus to come inside: first thing in the morning and last thing at night. He’s not much of a barker during the day, and with our invisible fence, I’m often able to let him play outside for long stretches without worrying about him annoying the neighbors. But at the crack of dawn and right when everyone is settling down for the evening? Barky McBarkerson. He runs laps around the house, telling every chipmunk, dog and neighbor that HE IS HERE! BEWARE! We keep a jar of treats at the back door, and during the day, simply calling his name and shaking the treat jar brings him in. For whatever reason, those treats aren’t worth anything for his first and last outing of the day.
The day after his package from Milk-Bone arrived, I tried something different. When he was barking his head off at 6:30 a.m. I opened the back door, shook the container of Good Morning Daily Vitamin Treats, and called, “Gus! Vitamins!” And there he was, at the back door in a jiffy. Works every single time. It’s perfect – he needs two vitamins a day, and I need him to come inside quickly two times a day!
I’d love to hear from you – have you ever used the Strategy of Pairing in your own life to form a healthy habit? If not, can you think of a current situation you might improve by invoking the Strategy of Pairing?
Thanks to Milk-Bone for making Gus a happy pup, but especially for helping me solve a problem that was driving me crazy twice a day! For more fun and interesting information about pets and how they affect our own physical and emotional health, check out the infographic below.