The ability to think clearly in stressful environments is key to being able to do well. But what is the secret to thinking clearly? How can we channel or change our natural nervous response into something useful?
I used to joke with nervous students that I would slip a Benedryl into their morning drink at competitions. But that is definitely not a solution that will enhance focus and therefore improve performance. Anything that elicits a sedative-type response creates slower reactions and cognition. To be the best, you want to improve your reaction time and clarity in thinking…not slow them down. Is there a way to do that?
Well, recently, in an effort to find a solution to firework sensitivity in dogs, I found an answer: Composure.
Now, here’s the really awesome thing…while people have to work hard at learning composure* our dogs, thanks to VetriScience, now have a shortcut: Composure™ chews made with a calming formula to help support balanced behavior without acting as a sedative!
How is this possible?
Composure™ chews are comprised of three active ingredients: Thiamine (Vitamin B1), C3™ (Colostrum Calming Complex), and L-Theanine (Suntheanine® brand).
How do these ingredients help dogs exhibiting anxiety and stress achieve a calmer state without sedation?
Thiamine (Vitamin B1) is a B vitamin that helps the brain focus and function better. This amazing vitamin can literally help improve cognitive abilities! How? Studies have shown Thiamine is an amino acid and can aid in the production of serotonin, a natural chemical in the brain that affects mood, particularly, that of well-being and happiness.
C3 (Colostrum Calming Complex) is a VetriScience secret formula. Even still, VetriScience shared with me the background behind the discovery of this active ingredient. The discovery occurred when one of the VetriScience veterinarians, working with big cats (tiger and jaguar kittens), noticed that these large kittens would be playful/crazy, nurse, then rapidly become calm. After forming a hypothesis, the doctor began research, and discovered the same components that create dopamine, serotonin, and other mood regulating hormones in the brain are in colostrum. Thus, the C3 ingredient was born.
L-Theanine is derived from tea leaves and may help relieve stress by inducing a relaxing effect without drowsiness and may also possess immunologic attributes. Theanine may also have effects on the cardiovascular system and play a preventative role in cancer; however, limited clinical information is available to support these claims.
But VetriScience didn’t stop at using impressive active ingredients. They went one step further and had a field trial on Composure™. The field trial had over 50 dogs and cats who tested the products with their owners. Approximately 80% of the owners reported a positive response.
When I asked VetriScience about the possibility of running a test myself, they sent me Composure™ for my dogs, and six of my students’ or friends’ dogs. Here are our results:
Porky is my rescue Chihuahua who has been sound-sensitive since the day I brought her home. This 4th of July and Monsoon season would be her first. I was concerned that her sensitivity that we had been working on so hard would take a big backward slide with so much stressful stimulus. I am very picky about what products my pets get, and after reading the ingredients and the results of the focus group, I felt very comfortable giving it to her. Porky LOVED the taste of the Composure™ and while it did not take away her alert response to the noises of fireworks or thunder, it did drastically lessen her fearful response. Instead of shaking, running, or attempting to hide as she had on previous occasions, she would instead simply look in the direction of the noise then carry on about her business. The other major plus to this product, is it did not reduce her drive or activity at all! In fact, we even ran in an agility class during fireworks! It was amazing!
“I give the VetriScience Composure™ ★★★★ for last night! I gave Ginger one tab about 1pm, just to see if there was an adverse reaction, and there wasn’t. Also gave her one about 8pm, once I saw lightning in the sky and the wind really picked up. Her stress reaction was so different versus the night before, hardly any reaction, just a little mild panting. Tonight will be another test, because of all of the fireworks. I highly recommend!”
Ruger & Lady
Libby & Romeo
“I gave the minimum dose of Composure™ to both pups on July 4th about an hour before the local fireworks started. They both still freaked out and shook hard, but it was better than other years just not substantially. Where I did notice a great improvement was how much faster they calmed down once most booms and bangs stopped.”
“We used it on the fourth of July for the fireworks. We live quite close to a neighborhood that sets fireworks off early and often. We gave Casper one dose when they started while still light out. We gave her a second dose when it got dark and quite a few were going off. Normally Casper would hide in a dark place like a closet and would refuse to be coaxed out. With Composure™ she laid on the couch with us the whole time. She panted heavily, drooled, but stayed with us. That never happened before. That was with a double dose.
We also used Composure™ for a thunderstorm the next evening. On only a single dose, she was able to lay on floor by family, not go hide,
I liked it because it worked quickly, within around 15 min. There was no
residual, lingering effects the next day. She was back to her usual self.
Casper also liked the taste.
I would definitely use it again and recommend it to friends!”
How should you use Composure™?
Typically there is a result within the first 20 minutes of administration. So VetriScience suggests giving Composure™ at least a half hour before the stressful event (fireworks, competitions, thunderstorms, and so on). Depending on the severity of the stressful situation, it is safe to give up to triple the suggested dose of Composure™.
How else can I achieve composure for myself and my dog?
I am a firm believer that supplementation alone is not enough to achieve the best results in myself or my dog. So, here are some tips to help you and your dog achieve composure in stressful situations:
- Play – Both you and your dog will feel less stressed after a fun game of tug, chase, or retrieve.
- Deep breaths – You can’t ask your dog to take deep breaths, but you can pet them slowly from the base of their neck to the base of their tale as you take deep breaths yourself. The slow, rhythmic petting will help calm them (and you) at the same time.
- Focus on good things – Give your dog a new chewie or a stuffed bone. While they’re busy enjoying their new treat, take the time to visualize a positive outcome for whatever is causing you stress (instead of worrying about the possibility of failure, focus on the possibility of success).
- Counter-condition – Pair scary things with positive experiences and pretty soon those things aren’t as scary. For dogs, be sure to keep them under threshold (far enough away from the scary thing that they are willing to eat or play).
Enter to win Composure™
*VetriScience has a Composure™ for humans product that I will be testing in the next couple months. I will provide a link to that review here.
About the giveaway: No purchase necessary. Giveaway is open to US residents only, except where prohibited by law. Giveaway will run from July 25th through August 1st, 2015 at 11:59pm MST. Two (2) winners will be randomly selected and notified via email. Winners will have 48 hours to claim their prizes; failure to do so will result in forfeiture of the prize; at such time a new winner shall be randomly selected. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest do not sponsor, administer, or endorse this promotion. By entering this giveaway, participants have read and agree to the terms stated in The Better Focus Giveaway Official Rules. By entering this contest, participants grant permission for their email address to be added to the Kama Loves Agility newsletter list**.
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