Dogs in Scotland could be given electric shocks to stop them going to the toilet

Official code of practice of the Electronic Collar Manufacturers Association, which has lobbied Scottish Government against a ban on these cruel devices, claims they are ‘designed to manage’ dogs soiling in public

  • The Kennel Club, the UK’s largest dog welfare organisation, criticises this guidance, as preventing a dog from exhibiting natural behaviour patterns could breach Scottish animal welfare laws
  • Kennel Club urges Scottish Government to ban the use of these devices, proven to be detrimental to dog welfare
  • Scottish Government is debating the use of electric shock collars at Holyrood on Thursday 25th January

The UK’s largest dog welfare organisation, the Kennel Club, is upping its calls for a ban on the use of electric shock dog collars in Scotland, as the Electronic Collar Manufacturers Association (ECMA) – the main association that lobbies for their use in the UK and is made up of companies which manufacture the collars – is advocating their use to ‘manage’ dogs going to the toilet in public.

Electric shock collars are worn around a dog’s neck and operate by emitting an electric shock to a dog when its owner presses a button on a remote control. The Electronic Collar Manufacturers Association’s official code of practice, hosted publicly on its website, states that one dog behaviour that they are ‘designed to manage’ is the soiling of public spaces. 

The Kennel Club believes that advocating the use of electric shock collars to stop dogs from going to the toilet in public places, which is a natural behaviour in animals, is not only hugely irresponsible, but is likely to be a breach of the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006, which states that animals must be able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns.[1]  The Kennel Club firmly believes that the advice to dog owners should be to pick up after their dogs when they go to the toilet in public to tackle any problems around dog fouling, rather than to shock them in an attempt to change their natural behaviour.

The ECMA has met with the Scottish Government, which is debating the issue on Thursday 25th January at Holyrood, a number of times on the use of electric shock collars and has urged the Government to continue to allow the use of these devices, despite ongoing public outcry and advice of major dog welfare organisations, vets and dog trainers and behaviourists.

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: “The ECMA’s code of practice advocates the use of electric shock collars to try and stop dogs from going to the toilet.  A dog relieving itself is a natural behaviour, and stopping it from doing so by shocking it with an electronic collar is not only barbaric and lazy but could well be against the law.  A dog is certainly not going to be able to stop itself from going to the toilet and using shock collars to attempt to do this is likely to be counterproductive and cause other issues. 

“The fact that the ECMA continues to promote this use of such collars, against the guidance of dog welfare organisations, vets, dog trainers and behaviourists throws doubt on the validity of the rest of their code of practice.  We know that the Scottish Government has met with the ECMA a number of times to discuss possibly regulating the use of these collars, rather than banning them outright, and we would be truly horrified if an organisation that believes it is okay to harm a dog to stop it from exhibiting a natural behaviour pattern could influence the Government on their decision.”

Maurice Golden, MSP for West Scotland, who is sponsoring the upcoming debate on electric shock collars, 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.  It is particularly alarming that the trade body for manufacturers of these devices, the ECMA, state that dogs going to the toilet is one of the behaviours shock collars are designed to manage.

“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.”

Research published by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in England 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 found that 73 per cent of the Scottish public are against the use of electric shock collars and 74 per cent would support the Scottish government in introducing a ban on their use.

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 intentions 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.

The Kennel Club hopes that following the ‘Electric Shock Training Collars in Scotland’ debate on Thursday 25th January, the Scottish Government will commit to protecting the welfare of dogs in Scotland by announcing plans to implement a ban on the use of electric shock collars.

To view the ECMA’s code of practice for electric shock collars, visit

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 about the issue.