Scottish Government refuses to ban use of electric shock collars on dogs

The Scottish Government has announced its intention to continue to allow the sale and use of electric shock training collars on dogs, despite the UK’s largest organisation dedicated to dog health and welfare, the Kennel Club, and the Scottish Kennel Club presenting overwhelming evidence supporting a total ban on the cruel training devices.

The Kennel Club and Scottish Kennel Club were joined by leading animal welfare and veterinary organisations, dog trainers, behaviourists and MSPs during an event held at the Scottish Parliament recently (8th November) to ask the Scottish Government to ban electric shock collars. Dr Jonathan Cooper from the University of Lincoln presented research funded by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which included evidence of significant long term negative effects on the welfare of a number of dogs that were trained by electric shock collars.

The Kennel Club and Scottish Kennel Club are now urging dog lovers and anyone with an interest in dog welfare in Scotland, to write to their MSP asking them to show their support for an outright ban on the sale and use of shock collars.

Despite the huge volume of evidence reinforcing the need for a ban on electric shock collars and support for the campaign across the welfare and veterinary sectors, the Scottish Government has informed the Kennel Club of its intent to merely regulate the sale and use of electric training devices rather than implementing a ban. The proposed regulations would include a new qualification for up to 100 dog trainers across the country to enable them to promote and use shock collars on dogs.

During the recent meeting it was suggested by one attendee that shock collars could be used by owners who had chosen an unsuitable breed and were consequently struggling to handle their dog and were unable or unwilling to commit to other more positive training methods. This reasoning goes directly against the advice of the Kennel Club and other welfare organisations who all advise prospective dog owners to thoroughly research breeds and only choose one that is suitable for the person’s lifestyle. The Kennel Club believes a dog should not be punished with electric shocks or any other painful treatment simply because their owner did not find out how much training or exercise their dog would need before buying or adopting their pet.

The Kennel Club understands that the Scottish Government has been meeting with the Electric Shock Collars Manufacturers Association and dog trainers in Scotland who currently use shock collars, yet has not had any meetings with any of the professional dog training associations who oppose the use of electric training devices.

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary said: “It is extremely disappointing that despite the large amount of scientific evidence proving that electric shock collars are a cruel training method for dogs, the Scottish Government has decided to pursue a costly route to regulate shock collars rather than implement an outright ban.

“The Kennel Club has grave concerns that if the government supports a formal training qualification which allows electronic training devices, it will legitimise the use of shock collars and gaining the qualification may be viewed as an aspirational target for dog trainers. This governmental approval would also send a message to the people of Scotland that using these painful devices is an acceptable way to attempt to train a dog, when there is a wealth of evidence proving to the contrary.

“The Kennel Club also questions whether developing a qualification for fewer than a hundred dog trainers is an appropriate use of resources and tax payers’ money when the government could instead develop a qualification in positive training methods suitable for all dog trainers, the vast majority of whom would never use an electric shock collar.”

Maurice Golden MSP, a long-time supporter of the campaign to have electric shock collars banned, said:Electric shock collars are harmful and have no place in modern dog training. The advice from academia, dog behaviourists and trainers is clear – electrocuting dogs does not help train them.

“Despite this, the Scottish Government plans to create a new regulatory regime to allow continued use of these harmful devices. Sadly, the proposed regulatory regime will only create unnecessary bureaucracy and do little to prevent dogs from being harmed.

“The simplest solutions are often the best. That is why I’m calling on the Scottish Government to ban electric shock collars once and for all. It’s time to do more to protect dog welfare in Scotland.”

Read more information on the Kennel Club’s campaign for a ban on the sale and use of electric shock collars, and template letters for anyone wishing to write to their MSP.