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Making Animals Happy

How to Create the Best Life for Pets and Other Animals, by Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson; Allen & Unwin. Softcover, 342pp. RRP 39.95. ISBN: 978 0 85131 899 9.

February 13, 2010

What does it take to make a horse happy? How about a cow? A pig? Or a dog or cat? What about chickens?

Unfortunately for millions of animals worldwide, many people either don't know or don't care. Those still living in the dark ages might even think that animals don't feel pain and have no feelings.

Renowned animal scientist Temple Grandin devotes a chapter each to horses, cattle, pigs, dogs, cats, poultry, zoo animals and wildlife, and for each looks at how they live, learn, and behave - and what it might take to make them happier than they are now.

For example, Grandin says, cows absolutely hate yelling.

She gives many examples of her hands-on experience finding solutions to a variety of animal "problems" over the years. Grandin's own experience with autism has helped her develop a sense of how animals are thinking and feeling.

Grandin talks about the "core emotions" in humans and animals, which include: seeking - the basic impulse to search, investigate and make sense of the environment; rage - which may be evolved from the experience of being captured and immobilised by a predator; fear; panic; and play.

The insights the Grandin gives into her work with animals is fascinating. Logic, common sense and experience can work wonders.

In the horse section, Grandin looks at different behavioral aspects, including handling hyper-specific fear memories and their causes, positive and negative reinforcement, and the benefits of clicker training.



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