Editrix (Amy Lewis)'s Reviews > Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best Life for Animals

Animals Make Us Human by Temple Grandin
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's review
Sep 24, 2011

really liked it
Read from September 20 to 25, 2011

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 fellow creatures.

The author shallengea popular theories of animal behavior and training, including Cesar Millan's approach for dog owners to dominate their pets and prove their alpha status. By focusing on how wolves and wild dogs behave in the wild (i.e., living in cooperative small family groups without one clear "alpha" leader), Grandin provides a strong argument for clicker and other reward-based training and positive reinforcement, which activate the animals' SEEKING emotion of pleasant anticipation.

Grandin supports her ideas by citing both lab and field research, with a strong emphasis on observational methods to gather better data about animal behavior. Like Michael Pollan, she neither grandstands nor self-promotes, instead providing concrete examples of how humans can improve the quality of life for domesticated and wild animals. The book is thought-provoking for those who live or work with animals, as well as anyone who consumes meat, dairy, or eggs.
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