Neuroscience key to animal happiness

“…research in neuroscience has been showing that emotions drive behavior, and my thirty-five years of experience working with animals have shown me that this is true. Emotions come first. You have to go back to the brain to understand animal welfare.”

Animals Make Us Human : Creating the best life  for  Animals

by Temple Grandin & Catherine Johnson

Water dogs having a blast in Spring Lake Park
Water dogs having a blast in Spring Lake Park

By Deborah Taylor-French

Those of us who live and/or work with animals know…

animals have emotions.

Temple Grandin has made the understanding, care and handling of farm animals her life’s work. I refer to her book Animals Make Us Human because not only has she studied farm animals, but she also loves and lives with pets. In her books, especial this one, she insists that we must understand how animals brains work, how they see, hear and smell every sensory detail in their surroundings.

Animals emotions drive their behavior.

To make a better life for our pets, for domestic and wild animals we must understand the main emotions that drive behavior. This will help us to turn on their positive emotions and avoid turning on FEAR, RAGE and GRIEF.

Example: Rabbits and horses are prey animals.

  • Never chase either rabbits or horses.
  • Teach your pet rabbit or horse come to you.
  • Always reward them for recognizing their name and coming when called.
  • When you chase a prey animal, you make him or her fearful of you!

Emotions are the gifts of our ancestors. We have them and so do other animals. We must never forget this. When it comes to animal welfare we can always do better. Most of the time “good welfare” is not “good enough.”

The Emotional Lives of Animals by Marc Bekoff.

Dogs Depend on us for freedom from fear and safety

  • Never tied up your dog unless it is in your company in a human training session.
  • A dog needs to feel he call flee to safety.
  • Be sensitive to your dog’s fear signals and show him you will protect and calm him.
  • Increase your dogs positive emotions by interesting, but not overstimulating activities.
  • Always stop training before your dog gets tired.

Dogs are the only animals that live with us inside of their flight zone.

Dogs depend on us for positive and playful lives

When you help increase an animal’s curiosity, you turn on his or her positive emotions of SEEKING and PLAY.

Example: Dogs love to play.

  • Find a time and place when both you and your dog seem relaxed.
  • Invite your dog to play by doing a play bow or picking up his favorite toy.
  • Use an excited and happy tone of voice to call your dog.
  • Run away.
  • When your dog chases you, stop.
  • Wait for your dog to run then chase.
  • Always stop before your dog seems fearful or overexcited.

Dogs love this game, which dog lovers know dogs play every chance they get.

Temple Grandin Website and Book Orders

Blog the Change for Animals
Blog the Change for Animals

Thank you for reading.

Please share for the sake of all animals, because as

Temple Grandin says,

“Animals make us human.”

Please visit and share Blog for the Change for Animals – this October 15, 2013

Animals defy our tendency to define their lives and their limits.

For further information on brain research, emotions in animals and the primary-process emotional-affective networks of mammalian brains read US National Library of Medicine  National Institutes of Health on the work of Jaak Panksepp, Ph.D. Affective neuroscience of the emotional BrainMind: evolutionary perspectives and implications for understanding depression


8 thoughts on “Neuroscience key to animal happiness

  1. Pingback: Animals make us human. | Learning from Dogs

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