What is positive welfare?

Positive animal welfare (PAW) is a relatively recent idea that emphasises the welfare benefits of animals having opportunities for positive experiences on a regular basis1,2.

Curious chicken

PAW is often seen as a response to there being too much focus on negative aspects of animal welfare.

PAW seems intuitively sensible and straightforward and yet a closer look reveals that it is a rather complex mixture of different ideas.

Important to the development of PAW is the scientific acceptance that animals can experience positive emotions.

We also need to consider what allows animals to experience positive emotions. An important idea here is that positive emotions result from animals being able to express their normal behaviour.

Goat kids running

PAW also links to ideas that come from studies of human well-being such as Quality of Life and Happiness. It has been proposed that a balance of positive rather than negative experiences over the long-term defines a good Quality of Life for animals.

Happiness in animals has similarities to Quality of Life; how positive animals feel over time is one suggestion of what makes animals Happy.

You can find separate pages on these different aspects of PAW and also a Q&A page that addresses some overlaps between the different PAW concepts.


1. Lawrence, A. B., Vigors, B., & Sandøe, P. (2019). What Is so Positive about Positive Animal Welfare?—A Critical Review of the Literature. Animals, 9(10), 783.

Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9100783

2. Rault, J.L., Hintze, S., Camerlink, I. and Yee, J.R., (2020). Positive welfare and the like: distinct views and a proposed framework. Frontiers in veterinary science, p.370.

Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9100783


Positive Emotions



Quality of Life