Ban electric shock collars

Labrador sat in leaves

Electric shock collars (ESCs) are worn around a dog's neck and deliver an electric shock either via a remote control or an automatic trigger, for example, if the dog barks.

We are against the use of any negative training methods or devices. We believe that there are many positive training tools and methods that can produce dogs that are trained just as quickly and reliably, with absolutely no fear, pain, or potential damage to the relationship between dog and handler.

Key statistics
  • 1 in 4 dogs trained with electric shock collars showed signs of stress compared to less than 5% of dogs of dogs trained without the use of shock collars ​[1]

  • 1 in 3 dogs yelp at the first use of electric shock collar and 1 in 4 yelp at subsequent uses [1]
  • 73% of the public disapprove of the use of electric shock collars on dogs [2]
  • 79% of the public agree that positive reinforcement training methods can address behavioural issues in dogs without the need for negative training methods [2]
  • 74% of the public would support the government introducing a ban on electric shock collars [2]

1. Defra commissioned study AW1402, 2013

2. Kennel Club commissioned survey, 2014

The problem

Existing research has highlighted the detrimental impact ESCs may have on dog welfare. These studies have focused on the physiological effects and the impacts on learning through their use.

Recent research commissioned by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) showed that there were significant long-term negative welfare consequences for a proportion of the dogs that were trained with ESCs. The studies concluded that even when electric shock collars were used by professionals following an industry-set standard of training approved by the Electronic Collar Manufacturers Association (ECMA), there were still long-term negative impacts on dog welfare.

Lastly, the studies also demonstrated that positive reinforcement methods were effective in treating livestock chasing, which is the most commonly cited justification of their use.

The Kennel Club's recommendations to Government

We are calling on governments to prohibit the sale and use of electric shock training devices.

We welcomed the UK Government's announcement that they intend to ban the use of electric shock collars and we are lobbying Government to bring forward legislation in this parliamentary session.

The Scottish Parliament introduced an effective ban of shock collars through guidance published in October 2018.

The Scottish Government is currently reviewing the effectiveness of this guidance and we will be lobbying the Scottish Government to ensure that the use of shock collars is explicitly banned by legislation.

The Welsh Assembly introduced a ban in 2010 as part of the Animal Welfare Act, after they agreed that there was enough evidence to prove that banning the devices would improve animal welfare.

Electric training collars are already banned in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland, Slovenia, Germany and in some states in Australia.

How can you help?

With over 8 million dogs in the UK, the dog-owning population accounts for approximately 25% of the British public, meaning that dog issues can have widespread voting appeal.

The way to keep politicians interested in canine welfare is to speak to them about your concerns on a particular issue, e.g. dog walking access, dangerous dogs, puppy farming etc. and ask for their help. You can do this via email, a letter or even a meeting.

The key is to keep their mailbags full with dog issues to ensure that as your elected representative, they keep up to date with the issues that are most important to you, their constituent.

Get involved

If there is an issue you feel strongly about, write a letter to your parliamentary representative lending your support to one of our many campaigns and letting them know how they can help. Your emails and letters don't need to be long, in fact, the shorter the better as politicians are very busy. By doing this you will be playing your part in keeping the welfare of dogs on the political agenda.

Our guide to letter writing
Writing to your Member of Parliament at Westminster (MP), Member of Scottish Parliament (MSP), Welsh Assembly Member (AM), or Northern Ireland Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) will inform individual politicians about important campaigns and therefore enable pressing issues to be taken up in parliament much more effectively.

While we know that it is much easier simply to copy a letter and send it off, your parliamentary representative is far more likely to take notice if you write your own letter. Use the guideline below to draft your own letter:

[YOUR HOUSE NUMBER AND STREET]
[TOWN]
[COUNTY]
[POST CODE]

[EMAIL ADDRESS]

[PHONE NO.]


[NAME OF POLITICIAN]
[PARLIAMENT OR ASSEMBLY ADDRESS]
[DATE]

Dear XXXXXXX,

Paragraph 1: Why you are writing
The first paragraph of your letter should always introduce your concerns to your parliamentary representative. For example:
‘I am writing to you regarding the issue of [INSERT TOPIC], to ask that you support The Kennel Club’s campaign to...’
(This information can be found on the relevant campaign page of our website.) 

Paragraph 2: What you want to change
Each of the campaign’s pages on The Kennel Club’s website outlines the organisation’s official position and what is being done to try and push for change. This information can act as a guideline for telling your parliamentary representative how existing legislation needs to be amended.

If you are writing to request that your parliamentary representative support The Kennel Club on a specific issue, you may wish to use something along the lines of the following wording as an introduction to the paragraph:

‘The Kennel Club acts as a voice for thousands of dog owners across the United Kingdom. Supported by its vast expertise and experience on dog-related matters, The Kennel Club is proposing the following…’

…then write a bullet-point list into your letter.

Paragraph 3: Why these changes are necessary
Providing politicians with evidence will demonstrate that your concerns are valid. Use facts and figures to support your argument, and describe any personal experiences that you may have had to make your case even more powerful.

Paragraph 4: Action points
Tell your parliamentary representative the line of action that you wish them to take on this matter. This could be taking the matter up with their party, raising the issue in parliament, signing an EDM or supporting a specific Bill. If you are unsure what to write in this paragraph, contact The Kennel Club's public affairs team for advice.

Paragraph 5: Signing off
Request a reply. You may also wish to arrange a face-to-face meeting to discuss the issue further. Then all that is left to do is sign off:

‘I look forward to hearing from you.
Yours sincerely,
[INSERT YOUR NAME]’

Once you have received a reply
To help keep us up-to-date on which politicians are aware/supportive of our campaigns, please photocopy or summarise the response you receive and send it to us by email or by post to: The Kennel Club Public Affairs, 1-5 Clarges Street, Piccadilly, London, W1J 8AB.

If your parliamentary representative has agreed to meet with you, read our guide to a successful meeting with parliamentary representatives below.
Our guide to a successful meeting with parliamentary representatives
Attending the surgery of your Member of Parliament at Westminster (MP), Member of Scottish Parliament (MSP), Welsh Assembly Member (AM), or Northern Ireland Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) will be the most powerful way of making them aware of pressing canine issues, enabling them to be taken up in parliament much more efficiently.

Most parliamentary representatives hold surgeries where constituents can meet them face to face. Sometimes notices of surgeries appear in local newspapers, but if not you can contact your MP, MSP, AM or MLA’s office directly to book your appointment in advance.

Five steps to success

  1. Preparation is key. Make a list of questions/topic areas that you want to discuss with your parliamentary representative. Go armed with facts and figures to support your argument. You should also take a notepad and pen to write down any important points for reference
  2. Be direct. Introduce yourself and what you are there to discuss. State your concerns clearly, countering any opposing points that they may make. Do not become emotional – you will make a stronger argument by being calm and reasonable throughout
  3. Listen and respond constructively. Once you have made your position, allow your MP/MSP/AM/MLA to present you with his/hers. Listen carefully for areas of agreement and disagreement, always be positive and try to ask questions that will probe their personal viewpoint rather than that of their party
  4. Be aware of time. Stick to the issue and try not to get sidetracked into general debate - you will have a limited amount of time with him/her and it is important to make sure you get across all the points you wish to make
  5. At the end of the meeting and beyond… Thank them for the meeting, summarise your discussion and outline the steps you can take going forward. Let them know that they can contact you in the future to discuss the issue further.
Follow up the meeting by writing a thank you letter, summarising your visit and any actions that your MP/MSP/AM/MLA has offered to take. You could also contact them again after a month to see what progress has been made. This will also help to keep the issue fresh in their mind.

For further information or advice, please contact The Kennel Club public affairs department on 020 7518 1020 or by email.
Contact your parliamentary representative