The 5 Freedoms

When it comes to the animals in our lives, what’s the best way to show the love?  Owning two retail stores for dogs and cats, I could say (and given the impact the weather has had on sales, I probably should say) you really need to spend some money.  I’m always concerned with Zip’s happiness, but I’m not always clear on whether I’ve been successful (pugs have those worried faces).  I’m up for the new toy, and definitely for the healthy treats (I know that short term anyway, that works) but I want to know that I’m providing for his fundamental emotional welfare.  It’s the least I can do to say thanks for all the companionship, snorts (and snores), love and loyalty.  And laughs.  I’ve been reading  Dog Body, Dog Mind by Dr. Michael W. Fox, so I’ll share with you the 5 Freedoms.  Dr. Fox writes that to get a sense of your animal’s happiness quotient,  see how you’re doing in providing the 5 Freedoms:

1. Freedom hunger & thirst
2. Freedom from pain, injury & disease
3. Freedom from discomfort (eg, temperature extremes, uncomfortable floor surfaces
4. Freedom to express themselves naturally
5. Freedom from fear & distress

Simple and powerful.  Agree?

About Kathy Palmer

Loves: animals, her dog Zip, the rocky Maine coast, creative independent small business, good healthy food, spending time getting outside with pals, films set in France.


  1. Does Dr. Fox give any advice on HOW to see how you’re doing when it becomes unclear in some of these areas? I think that for the novice dog owner, there are plenty of situations in which suffering in one of these areas isn’t all that obvious.

    But as a general rule for keeping us honest and fair and helping us to bear in mind the ways in which we can repay some of the fierce companionship we get from dogs, I like this list a lot :)

    • Yes, Dr. Fox does talk about behaviors that signal different kinds of emotional states. The book is mostly about emotional welfare….how they communicate, how they express grief, how they express affection, how they become attached, and so on. I’m still reading it; but it’s already given me a deeper understanding of, and appreciation for, my relationship with my dog.