'Overdue' electric shock collar ban amongst new Government measures welcomed by The Kennel Club

The UK’s biggest organisation dedicated to the health and welfare of dogs has today (12 May) welcomed the Government’s newly announced Action Plan for Animal Welfare. The first of its kind, the flagship plan aims to ensure the UK is leading the way in animal welfare and includes a ban on the use of electric shock collars, a move which has been long-campaigned for by The Kennel Club.

The use and sale of electric shock collars is currently not prohibited in England, with Wales being the only nation with regulations in place which prevent their use. Research funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) demonstrated that electronic collars can have a detrimental effect on the welfare of dogs by causing them unnecessary harm and suffering, with 25 per cent of dogs trained with shock collars showing signs of stress.

“We fully support a total ban on both the use and sale of electric shock collars and are pleased that the Government have committed to this in their proactive action plan,” commented Dr Ed Hayes, Head of Public Affairs at The Kennel Club. “These devices cause unnecessary pain and suffering for dogs and research has demonstrated that a reward-based approach is more effective than delivering painful electric shocks when training dogs. Leading veterinary bodies both in the UK and in Europe are aligned in their opposition against shock collars.

“We have been extensively lobbying the UK Government and the devolved administrations for years on this issue, urging them to ban the use of electric shock collars to train dogs. The Government previously committed to banning these harmful devices; however, a legal challenge has considerably delayed DEFRA from acting. A total ban on the use of these devices is well overdue and, as such, we welcome the Government’s commitment this week to bring forward legislation on this issue – pending the outcome of the legal challenge – to protect the welfare of the nation’s pets.”

Via its action plan, the Government also announced its intentions to crack down on puppy smuggling and illegal imports. The importing of young puppies into the UK, often illegally, raises animal welfare and exploitation concerns, including transporting conditions, puppy farming, and illegal smuggling.

Dr Hayes added: “Breeders have been unable to meet skyrocketing levels of demand that we’ve seen throughout the pandemic, leaving importers and puppy farmers rushing to fill the gap. We welcome the Government’s intentions to address this issue and to crack down on the abhorrent smuggling of puppies into the UK. Alongside this though, we also need the Government to recognise and support high welfare, low volume dog breeders in supplying healthy, happy puppies to families and new owners across the country. It’s essential that the Government listens to all stakeholders and gets this right, in order to provide improved protection for dogs in the UK and further afield.

“We look forward to working with DEFRA and MPs to kick start this action plan and be a part of improving standards for dogs and making a real difference for our four-legged friends.”

Find further information about The Kennel Club’s campaigns and lobbying activity and DEFRA’s Action Plan for Animal Welfare.