Anchor Your Improved Morning Routine on Your Dog’s Walks

Big Dog Sleeping Sweetly with Golden Alarm-Clock

Whatever you do, DON’T hit snooze! You’re not adding quality sleep and could be using that time to do so much more!

If you’re lucky enough to have a dog in your life (but not lucky enough to have a house with a fenced-in yard and dog-door) then the first thing you do each morning is likely a walk with your dog after your own toilet break.

 

After a huge work project that ended in June 2014, I started learning about morning routines and the importance of devoting those first parts of your day to things that improve YOU and make you feel happy and energized. It’s so easy to rush into your day. Snoozing the alarm clock. Leaving at the last moment. Only doing what you need to be doing to get ready for work. I was doing that to the extreme for 3 months with 70+ hour work weeks.

 

As I added new things to my morning routine and tracked my progress daily, I noticed something. I was so much better at keeping to my morning routine when we had a dog here visiting! Interesting.

 

routine is just a sequence of habits you want to do together. Habits are well-formed with two things: a cue that prompts you to do them, and then a reward after it’s completed which could be natural or artificial.

How does having a dog jump-start my morning routine?

  1. They force me out of bed. I know that many dogs are snoozers and could sleep-in longer than their owners… but I feel obligated to get them out first thing regardless.
  2. Fresh-air and movement, whatever the weather is energizing! Getting outside first thing in the morning is a very natural way to wake-up. Sunlight, even if it’s low-light, helps our body attune to our natural circadian rhythms.
  3. The walks acts as a cue for my new habits. New habits of formed as part of a sequence where your brain reacts to a cue, does the habit, and gets a reward. The act of walking the dog in the morning, coming inside, putting the leash away worked as a perfect cue for me to start the next thing in my routine.

What to add to your morning routine?

I’ll share some things that I’ve added to my morning routine that have made me feel good, but everyone’s needs and interests are going to be different. Think about what you’ve been wanting to accomplish and what you’d like to add to your morning to do that.

 

  1. Hydration. My first item when I come in from the dog’s walks is to get water for both of us. I refresh the dog’s water bowl and pour myself a big glass of water. After not drinking for 8+ hours, your body needs it.
  2. Taking Vitamins and Supplements. I’m very forgetful about doing this. Writing it into my morning routine has been a good way to remember as I’m running down the list. I’ve created an artificial reward for taking these with other components of the routine. The last vitamin I take is my adult gummy multivitamins, and I eat my breakfast right after this is done. Yum!
  3. Stretching. This just feels very good and seems to keep the flow of energy through my body moving.
  4. Meditation.  I continue to hear over and over again about the benefits of meditation, and think that it has helped me move through my day with a more clear mind. I’ve been enjoying learning to meditate using the Headspace App. I’ve also heard good things about ‘Calm’ and ‘Buddhify’ which I’d like to try.
  5. Journaling. I’m trying to spend a little time each morning on reflection using journaling. I’m trying lots of different things in this time. I started with something I really liked called the “5-minute Journal” but have since been doing a free-form journal as well using prompts I’ve been gathering.

Interested In Seeing My Full Morning Routine In-Order?

I’ve added my Morning Routine file to the Downloads section. You can just take a look at my whole morning routine, or also use this file to replace mine with your own items.

If you want to know more about any particular item you see on my morning routine, let me know!

Tips to Improve Your Morning Routine

  1. Don’t add too much at once. Everything you see on this list was added over the course of about the last year. Try just adding one new thing that you do after your dog’s morning walks and keep that doing. Then, when you have that down, try adding something else.
  2. Write it down. Until something comes naturally, it’s always better to write it down. The routine isn’t rocket science, but referencing your paper instead of remembering frees up valuable brain-power that you can use for something else. Try using my template for Morning Routines or my Habit Tracker Template.
  3. Make sure the time and place makes sense. Group things that are in the same room at the same time. Try not to do any routine items in your bedroom within the first 30 minutes of waking up (I find it tempting to get back into bed).
  4. Follow your biological clock. You don’t have to be an early riser to have a great morning routine. I do wake up at 4:30am to fit this in before my long-commute and arrival at work by 7:30am. It’s what my body wants to do! But you can start your morning routine whenever your body likes to wake up. Just save that first hour of the day for you and your pooch!