The 2020 Five Domains Model: Including Human-Animal Interactions in Assessments of Animal Welfare

Scientific Journal Articles

This review outlines the latest in a succession of updates of the Five Domains Model, which, at each stage, incorporated contemporary verified scientific thinking of relevance to animal welfare assessment. The current update includes, within the structure of the Model, specific guidance on how to evaluate the negative and/or positive impacts of human behaviour on animal welfare. Persons whose actions may be evaluated include, but are not limited to, livestock handlers, owners of draught animals, veterinary care staff, pound/shelter staff, zoo-keepers, wildlife managers, hunters, researchers, companion animal owners, owners of sport/recreational animals, animal trainers and service animal handlers. Situations where human–animal interactions may have negative welfare impacts include: when animals have had little or no prior human contact, when human presence adds to already threatening circumstances, when human actions are directly unpleasant, threatening and/or noxious, when humans’ prior actions are remembered as being aversive or noxious and when the actions of bonded humans cause unintended harms. In contrast, situations where human–animal interactions may have positive welfare impacts include: when the companionable presence of humans provides company and feelings of safety, when humans provide preferred foods, tactile contacts and/or training reinforcements, when humans participate in enjoyable routine activities or in engaging variable activities, when the presence of familiar humans is calming in threatening circumstances and when humans act to end periods of deprivation, inhibition or harm. The explicit delineation within the Model of the potential impacts of human interactions on the welfare of animals enhances the Model’s utility. Additional updates in this latest version are also explained.

Mellor, D.J., Beausoleil, N.J., Littlewood, K.E., McLean, A.N., McGreevy, P.D., Jones B, and Wilkins, C. (2020). The 2020 Five Domains Model: Including human-animal interactions in assessments of animal welfare. Animals, 10, 1870. doi: 10.3390/ani10101870

View Resource
Topic(s): Behavior, Breeder Resource, Dog to People - Positive Caretaker Interactions, Welfare