New Unlocking the Animal Mind: How Your Pet's Feelings Book McMillan

New Unlocking the Animal Mind: How Your Pet's Feelings Book McMillan


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Making the case that feelings—"comfort, pleasure, discomfort, and suffering"—are the only things that matter to pets, veterinarian McMillan demonstrates a variety of ways that pet owners can observe the impact of emotions on their pets' health and use such information to better the quality of their pets' lives.

McMillan's conceptual keys to pet behavior are the "Comfort Zone," an animal's mental state in the absence of unpleasant feelings, and the "Pet Pleasure Principle" (with thanks to philosopher Jeremy Bentham), which describes an animal's choice of behavior based on what will bring it the most pleasure.

Using numerous examples from his practice, he shows how these concepts work (and work together): feeling out of the Comfort Zone can be an "early-warning system that a potential threat exists," for example, while an animal back in its Comfort Zone will spend its energy seeking greater pleasure. A helpful chart entitled "Why Your Pet Ain't Misbehavin' " lists painful emotions a pet might experience (e.g., boredom, anxiety) and the undesirable behaviors such emotions often cause (e.g., howling, chewing furniture).

McMillan's thesis is, he acknowledges, an "incredibly simple concept," and it probably doesn't deserve all the pages it gets, but those seeking greater connection with their pets will find it enlightening.
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