Kennel Club response to electric shock collar ban announcement

In response to the announcement from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the UK’s largest dog welfare organisation, the Kennel Club, has issued the below:

The Kennel Club, the UK’s largest organisation dedicated to dog health and welfare, is delighted that Government has acted on its #BanShockCollars campaign, which called for a ban on the use of electric shock dog collars, and is launching a consultation on introducing regulations to do just that under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

The Kennel Club’s #BanShockCollars campaign has already achieved success in Wales, where regulations have been in place banning the use of shock collars since 2010, and in Scotland where a ban on their use was recently announced.

The Kennel Club has campaigned for many years that shock collars are an outdated, unnecessary and cruel way of training a dog, with extensive Defra funded research proving they are ineffective training devices which can cause more problems than they seek to correct. Sadly, at the same time, and as a result of being misled by clever marketing claiming them to be a safe quick-fix training aid, they have been growing in popularity leading to concerns that shock collar training is starting to become the ‘new norm’ in England, as is the case in many parts of the USA.

Electric shock collars are fitted around a dog’s neck and deliver an electric shock via a remote control or automatic trigger. They train dogs out of fear of further punishment by administering shocks to the dog when they do not perform what is asked of them. 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 at the end of 2017 following extensive Scottish consultations, when it called for a complete ban on the use of shock collars amongst Scottish dog owners, and to attempt to put an end to the ever growing pool of ‘electric shock collar’ training days being organised by certain Scottish dog trainers.

The British Government’s announcement comes today, 11th March, just days after the Kennel Club welcomed MPs from all parties to a shock collar drop-in session where they were invited to show their support for a ban. The Kennel Club was joined at the session by a cross-party group of MPs, and dog focused welfare organisations including Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, Dogs Trust, Edinburgh Dogs & Cats Home, and the Scottish Kennel Club as well as the British Veterinary Association, renowned canine behaviourist Carolyn Menteith and leading researcher into electric shock collars, Dr Jonathan Cooper. 

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary said: “A ban on electric shock collars is a significant win for dog welfare and will protect countless dogs across the UK. Training a dog with an electric shock collar causes physical and psychological harm and is never acceptable, especially given the vast array of positive training methods available. We are delighted that the Government has listened to the Kennel Club’s long standing campaign to ban shock collars and hope that a ban on their use is imposed swiftly.

“Shock collars are often marketed as a harmless quick fix solution for dealing with training issues. The truth is that far from providing a solution, they can easily cause more problems than they seek to fix, and damage the strong bond that should exist between a dog and its owner.

“We applaud Defra for issuing a consultation on banning shock collars, and for taking such a strong stance on the importance of welfare in dog training.”