MSP joins forces with dog welfare organisations to urge action in Scotland on electric shock collars

Today (30 March), Christine Grahame MSP, in association with The Kennel Club and Scottish SPCA, hosted a drop-in session for MSPs to raise awareness of the negative impact of electric shock collars on dog welfare and urge action on the issue.

Held at Holyrood Parliament building, the drop-in session allowed MSPs to learn more about the devices for themselves.

Electric shock collars deliver an electric shock to a dog’s neck via a remote control, up to a radius of two miles – meaning a dog not within sight of its owner could still receive the stimulus – and for up to 11 seconds at a time. The Kennel Club has long-campaigned for a ban on these devices in Scotland alongside the Scottish SPCA. Wide-ranging evidence has demonstrated the detrimental effect these can have on the welfare of dogs and, in 2019, a study carried out by the University of Lincoln showed that electric shock collars were no more effective in training than positive reinforcement and dogs’ well-being was compromised, even when used by ‘professional’ e-collar trainers. They have been banned in Wales since 2010 under The Animal Welfare (Electronic Collars) (Wales) Regulations and have also recently been banned in France as of January 2023.

Following extensive research and a public consultation, the Scottish Government introduced Guidance condemning the use of shock collars in 2018, and hailed this an ‘effective ban’ on the use of these devices. However the Guidance has since proven to be ineffective in stopping the use of electric shock collars and Christine Grahame, MSP, highlighted concerns around this in the drop-in session and urged action from Government.

Christine Grahame, MSP, who sponsored today’s event, commented: “Electric shock collars for dogs are wrong, full stop. That’s why I support The Kennel Club and SSPCA’s campaign to increase awareness about their impact on dog welfare.

“Regulations must be brought forward to ban the use of electric shock collars to ensure that those who continue to use them can be prosecuted.

“I am delighted to have hosted this drop-in for MSPs to allow them to test electric shock collars out and see for themselves just how cruel and unnecessary they are.”

Maurice Golden, MSP for North East Scotland and long-term supporter of the ban, added: “Electric shock collars are not only harmful to pets, but entirely ineffective and unnecessary.

“The use of these cruel devices is simply unacceptable and we urgently need regulations that prohibit the use of them completely. I hope the event today galvanises action on this issue – which has cross-party support – and a real ban on these collars is enforced swiftly and properly.”

Mark Beazley, Chief Executive at The Kennel Club said: “The Kennel Club has long campaigned for a ban on electric shock collars and we were delighted when the Scottish Government pledged to ban the use of these devices in 2018. Unfortunately, this has since proven to be ineffective, and as such we believe that Regulations urgently need to be introduced in order to stop the unnecessary suffering of dogs.

“We thank Christine Grahame MSP for hosting this important event and hope Scottish Government take swift action on these cruel devices.”

Scottish SPCA chief executive, Kirsteen Campbell, said: "The Scottish SPCA received 47 reports to its animal helpline regarding electric shock collars being used on dogs from 2019 to 2021. In 2021, we conducted a survey of over 2,800 members of the Scottish public and found that 83% of respondents supported a total ban on the use of collars that give a dog an electric shock.

"We have been rehabilitating dogs for decades without using methods that cause fear or pain. The Society has long advocated that only positive reinforcement based training is used for dogs. Electric shock collars can have negative welfare implications, causing physical pain and long-term fear. France banned e-collars at the beginning of the year and there has been a ban in Wales since 2010. We hope that Scotland will follow suit and consider more humane methods to address behavioural issues with our dogs.”

Details about The Kennel Club’s campaign to ban electric shock collars are available on The Kennel Club's website.