Classroom Resources

Animals need...

a lot more than food, water, and shelter! Learning about what animals need to feel healthy, comfortable, and safe is a critical part of learning how to care for animals.

The Five Needs of Animals include:

  • Nutrition (fresh water, healthy diet)
  • Environment (shelter and a comfortable resting area)
  • Health (prevention and treatment of disease)
  • Behaviour (opportunities to express normal behaviour, adequate space, company of an animal’s own kind – if they want it)
  • Positive interactions with people (interactions and treatment that reduce or eliminate fear, anxiety and distress)

These Five Needs impact how animals feel.

The Five Needs of Animals are based on the Five Domains Model1 and apply to all domestic animals, however, how these needs are met varies from species to species.  

Encouraging students to think about how animals feel is a fundamental part of considering their needs. For instance, under the behaviour needs, animals require opportunities to perform their normal behaviours. If dogs don’t have an opportunity to run and sniff (which they highly motivated to do), they might feel bored and frustrated. This is similar to how students might feel if they didn’t have opportunities to move at recess or in gym class. This boredom and frustration in dogs can lead to destructive behaviours – like chewing furniture. By understanding animals’ needs and feelings, it’s easier to recognize that these types of destructive behaviours are not the dog’s fault – we just haven’t met their needs.

Why is this important for students?

Students start learning about the needs of animals in Grade 1 science. However, what is often missing from the discussion is how animals feel. How animals feel, also known as their affective state, is a critical determinant of an animal’s welfare state.2  

By learning about what animals need to feel healthy, comfortable and safe, students will further their understanding of the responsibility involved in caring for animals, and why treating them kindly is so important. This can easily be extended to the needs and feeling of people and reinforce that our actions have an impact on others, including animals. 

Our tool explores the needs of both companion and farm animals through a video series, featuring Animal Ambassador, Gracie. This resource also includes class discussion questions and activities.


  1. The Five Domains model is an internationally recognized framework for assessing the welfare of domestic animals and captive wildlife. The most up-to-date version of this model can be found here: Mellor, D.J. et al.(2020) The 2020 Five Domains Model: Including Human–Animal Interactions in Assessments of Animal Welfare, Animals, 10(10), p. 1870. doi:10.3390/ani10101870.
  2. Hemsworth, P. H., Mellor, D. J., Cronin, G. M., & Tilbrook, A. J. (2015). Scientific assessment of animal welfare. New Zealand veterinary journal63(1), 24–30. doi:10.1080/00480169.2014.966167


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