We fully support a complete ban on the use and sale of electric shock collars. We believe that these devices cause unnecessary pain and suffering for dogs, and a total ban on their use is well overdue.
What are electric shock collars?
Electric shock collars are devices that are sometimes used as a training method to control behaviour or punish a dog for unwanted behaviour. The device delivers an electric or static shock to the dog’s neck via a remote control or an automatic trigger.
The use and sale of electric shock collars is currently not prohibited in England, despite the UK Government previously announcing their intention to bring forward a legislative ban.
Electric shock collars have been banned in Wales since 2010 under The Animal Welfare (Electronic Collars) (Wales) Regulations 2010. Under the Regulations, anyone found guilty of using electronic shock collars on a dog or cat is liable to up to a year in prison and/or a fine.
Electric shock collars are currently legal in Scotland. However, in 2018, the Scottish Government published guidance advising against the use of these devices and other aversive training methods. Unfortunately, evidence suggests that this guidance has not been effective in stopping the use of these devices across the nation.
There are currently no legal restrictions on the use or sale of shock collars in Northern Ireland.
Research funded by DEFRA in 2014 demonstrated that shock collars can have a detrimental effect on the welfare of dogs by causing them unnecessary harm and suffering. More recent studies have reached similar conclusions, highlighting that usage of the device poses a risk to dog welfare and causes unnecessary suffering, as well as indicating that there is little evidence of improved behavioural outcomes. Research has shown that 25% of dogs trained with electric shock collars showed signs of stress in comparison to less than 5% of dogs trained without the device.
It is often claimed that electric shock collars are effective in preventing dogs from chasing livestock. However, research demonstrates that use of an electronic collar does not create a greater deterrent for disobedience, nor does it result in better learning outcomes.
Concerns have also been raised about the potential for owners and electric shock collar users to misuse or abuse the devices. A review of evidence commissioned by the Welsh Government demonstrated that owners do not typically read the manufacturers’ instructions prior to use and that advice on correct usage is not consistently followed. We believe that this raises serious concerns about inconsistent use and potential misuse of the devices.
The Kennel Club’s view
We fully support a total ban on the use and sale of electric shock collars. As such, we have extensively lobbied – and continue to lobby – the relevant authorities to prohibit shock collars from being used to train dogs.
We are firmly against the use of any aversive training devices. Instead, we recommend that pet owners and trainers use positive, rewards-based tools and methods when training their dog. Rewards-based training methods are proven to be effective and also do not compromise animal health or welfare. We recommend that dog owners find out more about The Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme and/or find a Kennel Club accredited instructor before embarking on their training journey.