Posted by: Linda Trunell | March 3, 2015

Training Methods and The 5 Freedoms of Animal Welfare

In the field of animal welfare there is a duty of care concept which is:

If you are responsible for an animal, you have a duty of care for that animal, regardless of why you are responsible for the animal, the animal’s purpose or how long you will care for the animal.

The five freedoms, sometimes known as Brambell’s five freedoms, are a compact of rights for animals under human control, including those intended for food or which act as working animals. The five freedoms were originally developed from a  UK Government report on livestock husbandry in 1965. The five freedoms are used as the basis for the actions of professional groups, including veterinarians and have been adopted by representative groups internationally including the World Organisation for Animal Health and Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. (Wikipedia)

The five freedoms as currently expressed are:

  1. Freedom from hunger or thirst by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigor
  2. Freedom from discomfort by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area
  3. Freedom from pain, injury or disease by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment
  4. Freedom to express (most) normal behavior by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal’s own kind
  5. Freedom from fear and distress by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering

These five freedoms address the welfare of all animals under human control – pets, working animals, livestock, as well as those living in captivity in a zoo or sanctuary or a laboratory.  So if we have a dog as a pet we are responsible for the welfare of that dog.   As dog trainers, we are responsible for the welfare of the dogs we are working with.

If we look at the five freedoms, we can see that as responsible pet dog guardians we will provide a species appropriate diet, fresh water, shelter and a comfortable resting area, preventative care and medical treatment when required, and allow our pets to express some normal behavior (such as chewing, playing, exercising).  We try to allow our dogs to be dogs but still be well-behaved members of the family.  We try to provide outlets for natural behaviors that don’t necessarily fit in with our idea of being well-behaved  (barking, digging, scavenging).   We provide companionship and sometimes that includes the company of other dogs.

But what about number 5. Freedom from fear and distress by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering.  We try to provide a stress-free environment, comfort our dog when they are fearful and keep the scary things away.  Why then would we cause fear and distress in the name of training?



It is being done every day by some trainers.  People who really love their dogs and are responsible guardians in every other way are allowing their pets to be stressed, scared and sometimes physically harmed because they are told by these trainers that is how dogs learn.  These methods are not in the dog’s best welfare. Force-free training has been proven to be just as effective (often faster) without causing fear and distress while strengthening the human-canine relationship instead of damaging it.

Every one of Cesar Millan’s clients and fans has two things in common: they love their dogs and they don’t know the first thing about training them.”    The Deception of the Dog Whisperer   (see this post for more reasons why these methods are not the way to train)

deception of the dog whisperer

Of all the animals in the world, dogs are the one species who has shared our lives for thousands of years.  They share our homes and often even our beds.  They have learned to read us like no other animal can.  We are finally learning more about them through increased scientific research.  We know that using positive reinforcement and force-free training methods are in the dog’s best welfare.   Dogs deserve to have freedom from fear and distress by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering.

“The earth trembled and a great rift appeared, separating the first man and woman from the rest of the animal kingdom. As the chasm grew deeper and wider, all the other creatures, afraid for their lives, returned to the forest — except for the dog, who after much consideration lept the perilous rift to stay with the humans on the other side. His love for humanity was greater than his bond to other creatures, he explained, and he willingly forfeited his place in paradise to prove it…”~ Native American folktale, Ojibway tribe

Here’s to being our dog’s best friend,


blog hopThe hop happens on the first Monday of every month, and is open for a full week — please join us in spreading the word about the rewards of positive training!

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  1. Excellent post, Linda! Being a best friend back to my best friends is one of the reasons I train. They deserve mental stimulation. Back when I was not using 100% positive reinforcement training methods, I realized that I was teaching my dogs to fear me rather than to work with me. This training epiphany has changed everything including how quickly my pets learn and how much better behaved they are. Thank you so much for joining the hop this month and for helping to spread the positive reinforcement training word. Changing how even just one dog is trained at a time can eventually change the world! I hope you’ll try out the Teach Your Dog Something New In Ten Minutes Challenge and let us know how it went next month.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for reading and thank you for hosting the blog hop. I’m looking forward to reading the blogs and to the Ten Minute Challenge!


  2. Excellent post Linda and so very true. Most humans don’t even know why they take pets in. Some only do it to show off. I’ve also seen dogs going into a doggy parlour quite distressed and come out more traumatized and some of those people also don’t know how to handle them. I wish they would enforce the laws on adopting any pet and have people write exams or something like that before they are allowed to take in a pet.

    Thanks for sharing. 😀 ♥

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Sonel. It breaks my heart when I see so many fearful dogs who have behavior problems caused by people who love them but know nothing about dogs. Most people do more research before they buy a new phone than they do before adding a puppy to their family. I agree that education should be mandatory before buying or adopting an animal but I doubt that will happen in my lifetime. Thank you for reading and commenting. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • The same here Linda and yes, that is so true and we can only wish hey. Nothing is impossible. 😆

        You’re very welcome. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I absolutely love this post and think that the Five Freedoms really emphasize the importance of a trusting and positive relationship. It is incredible how stuck people can get in the mindset that their dogs have to do x, y or z at whatever the cost. Thank you for joining the hop and I am looking forward to reading more from you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Lara. Thank you for hosting the blog hop. We need to help dogs by helping people to learn the science and not believe the “reality” TV drama. I don’t have to warn my readers not to try this at home. 🙂


  4. I’d never heard of the Five Freedoms before – but they make so much sense.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree, Sarah. They are goals to strive for when any animal is under control of humans – no matter what the status (pet, livestock, working, etc.) I learned about the duty of care concept and the Five Freedoms during a course on Animal Behavior and Welfare.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I like very much this article .It gives greate info about that topic.
    Thank you……..



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