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Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best Life for Animals

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  3,863 ratings  ·  625 reviews
The best-selling animal advocate Temple Grandin offers the most exciting exploration of how animals feel since The Hidden Life of Dogs.

In her groundbreaking and best-selling book Animals in Translation, Temple Grandin drew on her own experience with autism as well as her distinguished career as an animal scientist to deliver extraordinary insights into how animals think, a
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published January 6th 2009 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published 2009)
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Community Reviews

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An interesting and thought-provoking book by an autistic scientist, a Ph.D. in animal science, who is a professor at Colorado State University. This book was written in collaboration with another scientist, also a Ph.D., who specializes in neuropsychiatry and who is also the mother of two of three sons with autism.

It is clear throughout the book that autism has provided Grandin with extraordinary insights into animals and (perhaps) extraordinary patience with animals. In one example, she takes
Animals deserve the best life, and Temple Grandin's interesting take on our relationship with animals is always a pleasure to read. Particularly of interest was the way she pursued her thesis that animals make us human. This 21st century mental model of identifying -- and revising -- humans' long-standing problematic dominion over the rest of the animal kingdom was very enlightening.
I love that the focus of this book is about how to make animals in captivity (pets, zoo animals, livestock, etc.) happy. It's so hard to know what it means for an animal to be happy and Temple Grandin uses careful analysis and science to help unravel the mystery.

Knowing that animals need the freedom to express normal behavior and freedom from fear and distress to be happy, Grandin begins to define these things in layman's terms.

I mostly focused on the chapter about cats, because, um, you know.
The many fantastic reviews of this book seem to be based more on the person (autistic woman overcoming her disability to achieve a successful career advising the livestock industry on how to treat animals on the way to be nicer to their animals) than the book itself, which is awkwardly written and not that great of a read, to be honest. In Britain it's called "Making Animals Happy," and that would be a more appropriate title than "Animals Make Us Human," which is an interesting thesis but one th ...more
Ah, it has been a while since I read Grandin's other books, Animals in Translation and Thinking in Pictures. In that time I have also read a lot of other animal behavior books and books on factory farming, so most of the info within this book was not new to me. For that reason, I personally found it a little dull.

Another reviewer said that an alternate title in the UK is "Making Animals Happy," and that is a far more accurate title than "Animals Make Us Human." The latter is an intriguing statem
Miss Poppy
Temple Grandin writes about the four emotions of animals - fear, panic, rage, and seeking. It was like she read my diary! (just kidding)

There's really only one positive emotion for animals - seeking, and that's the one you want to work with. There are a couple of chapters on domestic animals - cats and dogs, and others on farm animals - chickens, pigs, cows, and horses, another on birds. The farm animal chapters are somewhat depressing in the sense of how the food industry has treated them, and
May 06, 2012 Lisa rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone interested in animals
Shelves: nonfiction, 4-star
To really appreciate this book, you need to know something about the author, Temple Grandin. She has autism, she has a PhD, she has been able to make many discoveries about animal behavior, and she has been able to design many humane efficiencies in animal industries. She is something of a systems engineer for anything to do with animals.

If you have never seen the movie "Temple Grandin", take a look at this preview:
You can find the movie at the Henrico Pub
A very interesting read. Temple explores the emotional needs of a wide variety of animals - the chapters are devoted to dogs, cats, horses, cows, pigs, chickens, wildlife, and zoos - and what humans can do to improve these animals' lives. I found it more and more interesting as the chapters progressed; as curious as I am about the emotional needs of housecats, Temples' expertise lies in the world of big animals on farms and in zoos, and she has lots of opinions regarding the treatment (or mistre ...more
It started out very good, and then developed into a book of random information about animals. I love animals and I love information about them, but that was not expected from this book. The title is misleading. I didn't even finish it actually, because it was repetitive and her random flow if info was agitating me.
This book is excellent and should be read by anyone who works with animals! Or by those who just love them. Really interesting. I liked the suggestions for handling cats in veterinary situations. Good book!
I'll put this on the "must read if you have a pet" list, as there's a lot of good/useful insight into why the animals we live with every day do what they do, what works in training, and what makes up a "good life" for the animal.

I particularly loved the chapters on dogs, cats, and zoos, and thought these few interesting points about dogs are worth sharing -

In the wild, wolves don’t live in wolf packs, and they don’t have an alpha male who fights the other wolves to maintain his dominance. Our w
Lynn G.
Like the other books by Temple Grandin, Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best Life for Animals was interesting and accessible. I enjoyed reading about the gradual evolution of attitudes of large-scale animal raising operations towards the cattle, pigs, and chickens that were being raised for market. Originally, most farmers/ranchers operated under the concept that animals were non-sentient dumb beasts that didn't need to be treated humanely, whose welfare wasn't considered at all. With Grandi ...more
Deanna Dailey
It makes me a little sad to rate this book with only two stars. I really like Temple Grandin's work, and I loved Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior. I've gleaned a lot of interesting information from this book, and I think there was a lot of really interesting and valid research and experience that went into writing it. It's just that it's not very well written. It's like at the end of each chapter she starts to get tired of explaining everything and ...more
David Smith
This fascinating book has a lot of insights into the higher picture of how behavior works in animals, and into the devilish details of dogs, cats, horses, cows, pigs, and chickens. It also covers zoos and wildlife more generally though with specific anecdotes. The most mind blowing moments happen when you realize, or Temple Grandin points out, that understanding humanity has an awful lot in common with animal husbandry. This is easily in my list of top 5 nonfiction books ever read.

The theory of
Holley Rubinsky
I heard Temple Grandin on Michael Enright's The Sunday Edition (CBC radio) and loved how she spoke about her autism. I could get Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best Life for Animals on the BC library site and so embarked. The opening interested me, seemed scientific. The chapter on Dogs was mildly interesting; though I'm not a dog person, I wasn't unfamiliar with her remarks. When I got to Cats, I realized Grandin was grazing past a topic she didn't know a thing about. Nor had she done adeq ...more
Read for my in-person book club.

I'm usually pretty wary of books like this, the kind with animals on the cover. Which is really sort of funny since I'm such a whore for animals in real life. But this is the book that was decided upon for my in-person book club, and since I missed the previous two books I figured I should suck it up and read this, especially considering it was my boyfriend's recommendation.

Temple Grandin is an animal scientist with a "twist" as I like to say. Her personal experie
The big thing with Grandin's books (NF) is that she's autistic, and also a specialist in humane treatment of "food animals": cows, chicken, pigs. She was particularly famous because she headed up the McDonald's audit of feed lots and slaughter houses. Apparently her autism gives her a unique perspective on this--and her prior book, Animals in Translation, was very interesting. It talked about how small changes in the animal's environment meant both cost savings for the companies involved in mana ...more
A lot of this book is common sense i.e., in working with animals, you will get more positive results with honey than with a big stick. However, there are some revelations in here that make the book worth reading - for example, current research on dogs and wolves, which shows that the old "Alpha dog/wolf" theory does not hold true in wild canine populations, only in captive populations where dogs are unrelated and must establish some sort of social hierarchy or else rip each other apart (kind of ...more
The title is a little misrepresentative of the book. It's not a treaty on how animals make us human. Instead I would characterize the content of showing how the classification of animal "Blue ribbon" responses (or emotions) are similar to humans. If animals can be shown to have feelings then they're not so different from humans.

Most animals have a seeking and fear switch. When a novel experience is provided either one gets switched on. Too far in one direction the animal bolts, or explores. Gene
Editrix (Amy Lewis)
Grandin (and co-athor Johnson) present a thesis that pyschologist Jaak Panksepp's "blue-ribbon emotions" -- SEEKING, FEAR, RAGE, and PANIC -- are common to all animals and help explain the behaviors of pets, livestock, and animals in the wild and zoos. By closely observing animal behavior and changing the environment and management in sometimes minor but positive ways, we can reduce stereotypic behavior (such as pacing or self-mutilating) and improve the emotional and physical welfare of our fel ...more
Animals Make Us Human is kind of another version of Animals in Translation. Many facts and topics that were brought up in her first book are addressed and referred to again in this book. Therefore I feel that this book needs to be reviewed as a companion book to Animals in Translation rather than a completely new and different book.

The book is divided into sections focusing on specific species and then analyzes their behavior in order to allow us as humans to better understand them, thus better
Bookmarks Magazine

Picking up where Animals in Translation left off, Grandin provides pet owners, farmers, livestock managers, and zoo keepers with concrete suggestions for improving the lives of the animals in their care. But "don't let the book's snuggly title fool you," declares the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "Grandin is primarily a scientist, and no Marley romps through these pages." There aren't any commandments to readers to lay down their forks, either: Grandin believes it is entirely ethical for humans to use

Autumn Shuler
Animals Make Us Human was not the book I was expecting. I grabbed it from the library on a whim because I thought it would give advice on the behaviors of pet animals. I wanted to use that knowledge to improve the livelihood of my pets.

While the book does delve somewhat into cats and dogs, it's actually more about livestock and production animals. I learned a lot about cows, horses, pigs, and chickens. I wasn't really looking to learn more about those particular animals, but I ended up reading a
As you many know Temple Grandin is austistic and also a professor at Colorado State University. As such I should have know that this book would remind me of the peer-reviewed journal articles I read in grad school, but at the same time, the insights were wonderful. Temple has a wonderful way of taking what she sees as an autistic (autistic savant some might say) and as a professor and teaching the rest of us how to see the same thing. The book is also organized very well and the author progresse ...more
It is a rare author that can make my mindset shift. Temple Grandin's thinking has invaded my mind, and I'm richer for it.
So many animals live to benefit humans as either companions or food. Grandin asks how we can provide them good lives while they are here?

She reminds me of Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas who asked, "Who speaks for the trees?" and shifted environmental thinking. Grandin is acting as a conscious eye at the slaughterhouse. In this book she establishes what animals' emo
Heidi Brydon
Temple Grandin is a flat out genius. The way she writes about how animals think, I don't think there is a writer out there who writes non-fiction about animals better. I especially loved that she took on Ceasar Milan. I used to like his TV show, but when I read her critique of his "alpha dog" training method, it makes a lot of sense. This woman is the real deal. Her humane designs for slaughter houses now are in over half the cattle yards in America. She has done more to alleviate animal sufferi ...more
Fascinating, insightful, pragmatic. Great read; I've learned so much about animals. I've read her books on autism, so it was a good read to see her insight into her calling - an animal whisperer. Always been a dog lover & I understand so much more now. Having an autistic child, the book gave me understanding on how that type of mind works. And I now have fun trivia facts, like wolves don't live in packs (in nature) & you can train a cat! And her afterword explanation of the natural, symb ...more
Grandin brings her prodigious insights to the domestic arena in the first couple of chapters of this book. I have to reconsider everything I thought I knew about my dog! She also touches on zoo animals, wildlife, and animals we eat. Her insights into slaughterhouses, and her reasons for advocating for humane slaughterhouses rather than eschewing carnivory are both fascinating and reassuring to me. Her slightly didactic style is easy to adjust to, and the wealth of information presented here can ...more
Animals have emotions, and to meet their emotional needs, one needs to adjust the physical environment to take away triggers for the panic, fear, and rage systems and provide as many opportunities for the seeking and play systems as possible.

This is a relatively short and thought-provoking book. It is the first book I've personally come upon that touched on what positive reinforcement looks like in practice ("charge" up a clicker with a reward like food, and train the animal in a behavior by re
In this book, Grandin offers up the latest research into animal behavior, giving advice on home to make pets happier and less troubled.

So, there I am, reading the section on cats in my bed, waving the cat-fishing pole about, and Mao takes some sort of crazy course-correcting jump and scratches my nose and chin. This morning I look as if I attended Heidelberg. And I didn't make the cat happy, either, because he didn't like the smell of the antibiotic ointment or the band-aids.

It's a good book.

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Temple Grandin, Ph.D., didn't talk until she was three and a half years old, communicating her frustration instead by screaming, peeping, and humming. In 1950, she was diagnosed with autism and her parents were told she should be institutionalized. She tells her story of "groping her way from the far side of darkness" in her book Emergence: Labeled Autistic, a book which stunned the world because, ...more
More about Temple Grandin...
Thinking in Pictures: My Life with Autism Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum The Way I See It: A Personal Look at Autism & Asperger's Emergence: Labeled Autistic

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“I believe that the best way to create good living conditions for any animal, whether it's a captive animal living in a zoo, a farm animal or a pet, is to base animal welfare programs on the core emotion systems in the brain. My theory is that the environment animals live in should activate their positive emotions as much as possible, and not activate their negative emotions any more than necessary. If we get the animal's emotions rights, we will have fewer problem behaviors... All animals and people have the same core emotion systems in the brain.” 40 likes
“The big companies are like steel and activists are like heat. Activists soften the steel, and then I can bend it into pretty grillwork and make reforms.” 17 likes
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