UK wide electric shock collar ban will save hundreds of thousands of dogs from aversive training devices

The Kennel Club’s ten year campaign to #BanShockCollars has finally come to fruition with the welcome news that Defra will completely ban the use of remote control electric shock collars in England. This follows a ban in Wales in 2010 and an effective ban in Scotland which will be introduced by way of guidance – a draft of which has recently been published.

With 5 per cent of dog owners reportedly using electric shock collars, a complete ban on their use across the UK should mean half a million dogs will be saved from being trained by these highly aversive devices.

Electric shock collars train dogs through pain and fear of further punishment rather than a natural willingness to obey. They can destroy the dog-human relationship which many dog owners enjoy with their canine companions and they can often lead to further behavioural problems as dogs associate the shocks with factors other than the original one that the dog owner was seeking to address. There are various models (approximately 170) readily available, ranging from £10 to more than £200. The cheaper collars will normally have one setting, whilst the more expensive collars have a range of shock settings, from 1-100.

Research published by Defra concluded that the use of electric shock collars as a training method has a long term negative welfare impact on dogs. Furthermore, an independent survey commissioned by the Kennel Club in 2014 found that 73 per cent of the British public are against the use of electric shock collars and 74 per cent would support the Government in introducing a ban on their use. The Kennel Club strongly believes that every dog should be trained using humane, reward-based methods. These are proven to be highly successful in modifying behaviour, including aggression, without subjecting dogs to cruelty.

The Kennel Club reinvigorated its #BanShockCollars campaign in Scotland and England at the end of 2017 following extensive Scottish consultations and an ever growing pool of ‘electric shock collar’ training days being organised by certain dog trainers both in Scotland and England. Following a high profile event in the Scottish Parliament at the end of 2017, the Scottish Government announced an effective ban on electric collars and fences by way of guidance which has now been drafted. Following this campaign we increased efforts in Westminster which led to the announcement of a consultation earlier this year

Although it is disappointing that the Welsh and Scottish Governments recognised the importance of a ban on invisible electric fences and the Westminster Government has not, the outright ban on remote control electric shock devices is very welcome and we applaud Defra for moving so quickly to ban them following the launch of their consultation.