Animal Welfare – The Five Freedoms

Animal Welfare – The Five Freedoms


Animal Welfare Act 2006 – Five Freedoms

Section 9 of the AWA 2006  shows the Duty of responsibility which you have for an animal in your care whether this is your own dog or a dog you care for as part of your business. These  Codes of Practise for your dog are known as the Five Freedoms, they reinforce section 4 as best practise.

A dog has a legal right to live in a suitable environment, to be fed a suitable diet, it should be allowed to exhibit normal behaviour patterns, it has a right to live with or apart from other animals and it has a right to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease.

1. The dogs need for a suitable environment.

This is your home, where your dog resides, it must be warm, draft-free.

The dog needs space to move around, that doesn’t necessarily mean the whole house but a suitable space, where it can be alone or in company, as and when the dog feels the need to interact or play.

Keeping your dog in a crate for long periods of time does not constitute a suitable environment, being kept in cramped conditions with other
animals, when they cannot get away, is not suitable, It can cause stress, fights, unwanted behaviours, not to mention suffering.

If the conditions that the dog lives in are squalid, for example, faeces and urine that has not been cleaned away can cause disease, infections, and illness.

Your dog should feel relaxed and happy in his environment not afraid. An outside area for toilet and fresh air/play should be available. This doesn’t mean you need to put a dog flap in your back door, but it does mean that it is your responsibility to let the dog outside on frequent occasions so that it may toilet amongst other things.

Your outside area needs to be escape-proof, and free for any sharp objects nails or glass in order to protect the dog from injury. You should pick up your dog’s faeces from your garden on a regular basis as this can cause health problems for your dog and even yourself. 

2. Your Dogs need for a suitable Diet.

Feeding your dog sausage and chips is not a good idea. The dogs’ digestive system is different from humans and they can be intolerant to certain foods, some are even toxic to them, and if fed your dog could be poisoned. (access and consumption of toxic/poisonous substances is also an offence under this act in Section 7).

Toxic substances also include plants in your garden, be aware of what is growing. Cleaning products which you mop your floor with or clean your carpets with must be taken into consideration, this can easily be overlooked.

Dog food is readily available from supermarkets, pet shops, even some Vets. Be aware of what you feed your dog, there are many different varieties of dog food out there and not all of them are good for your dog. If in doubt speak to your Vet or a Canine Nutritionist for more advise.

On the flip side of this, NOT feeding your dog is an offence as this will starve your dog of the nutrients that it needs in order to survive,
just like if you, as the owner, decided to stop eating, you would become ill and susceptible to disease and eventually die.

3. A dogs need to exhibit normal behaviour

Yes, this includes barking. As irritating as a dog barking can be, this is one of the ways a dog communicates with us. Training your dog when it is not appropriate to bark is easier than the yelling and chaos that ensues, so to speak, plus training is not a criminal offence as long as it is done with positive reinforcement and not abusive methods.

A dog needs to run and jump and play, this is normal behaviour, of course, there are other Laws and Acts which need to be taken into consideration when out in public with your dog. For instance, you cant let your dog run around in a children’s playground out of control, regardless as to whether the dog is just playing and being non-aggressive. You need to have control of your dog when outside your property at all times. Learning Recall is the most important thing you can teach your dog.

There are toys that you can purchase designed especially for dogs, so if the weather is bad your dog can be entertained inside the home. Brain stimulation is very important, it will also help tire your dog out without a ball even being thrown. Whilst ball games are great for your dog’s agility, overuse can cause problems with their joints and ligaments so responsible ball throwing is recommended.

4. The need to be housed with or apart from other animals.

Dogs are social creatures and enjoy the company of both humans and other dogs, even cats, dogs can habituate with most animals, it’s nice to have friends. Two dogs may learn from each other, both good and bad habits. Some dogs, however, can be intolerant to other dogs and animals and can be reactive and aggressive in nature. You should not try to force two dogs together if at least one is not happy about it.

If animals are living together, each should have a private space, where they can retreat to, without being disturbed by the other animals. Just like humans, we all need our own space from time to time, especially if we feel irritable or tired. Having this freedom will make your home more peaceful and help avoid unwanted behaviours or fights.

5. The need to be protected from pain suffering, injury and disease.

Clean and germ-free housing, keeping toxic substances out of reach, keeping the house and garden free from obstacles.

Knowing your dog’s normal behaviour is a must. If the dog suddenly for no reason starts acting aggressively when you attempt to stroke or interact with it, this could indicate pain. Take the dog to a Vet if you notice any changes in your dog’s behaviour as it may be suffering.

Canine First Aid Courses are widely available and are becoming quite popular. When you are out walking your dog, knowing canine first aid could mean the difference between life and death. As mentioned above, DEFRA has put together a Code of Practise which outlines everything which you have just
read plus more, this is the law, not just guidance, you can be prosecuted should any of these regulations be breached.