03/02/2009 at 01:59 PM EST
Go ahead and call your dog your baby. In her new book, author Temple Grandin says dogs should be treated like kids. The family dog needs someone to act like a parent more than they need a pack leader, she writes in her new best-selling
book Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best Life For Animals
. An autistic animal advocate and Colorado state professor, Grandin says that the latest research on wild wolves shows they live in families–sometimes extended families--but not packs where males fight for dominance.
But it seems dog trainers and owners haven't gotten the message. Many trainers see the whole world through the lens of dominance and hierarcy, thinking they are imitating natural wolf behavior. But Grandin points out, using traditional wolf studies, that dogs would do better with a parent-like figure who teaches them good manners. Dogs aren't exactly like wolves, but more like wolf puppies because of centuries of breeding for puppy-like traits.
In Grandin's last best-selling book Animals in Translation
, she showed–among many other things–how animals have friends, not just family or herd relations. With this book once again, you'll find yourself simultaneously surprised at her revelations and thinking she's brilliantly expressed something you knew deep down all along. Her chapter on dogs is the most instructive, but she covers a wide range of animals, like horses and gerbils, and how we can understand them better to improve their lives.