The Kennel Club urges Government to honour animal welfare commitments

Following “a disappointing lack of commitment” last year towards animal welfare, The Kennel Club is urging the Government to not delay any further on delivering a ban on electric shock collars.

Whilst the Government has committed to a ban on these devices, no date has been set for the final stage of the law to be passed through Parliament. This means that the much anticipated and widely welcomed Animal Welfare (Electronic Collars) (England) Regulations 2023, due to come into force from 1 February, is now at risk of missing the deadline, and therefore could be dropped completely.

This is the latest in a series of failed commitments from this Government to deliver improved dog welfare. In June 2021, the Government introduced the Kept Animals Bill, which promised changes to animal welfare standards and aimed to address key animal welfare issues, including puppy imports, pet theft, among many other crucial issues. However, after a lengthy delay, the Bill was officially abandoned in May 2023. As such, The Kennel Club which has campaigned for a ban on electric shock collars for over ten years, is concerned that this is another promise that the Government will fail to deliver on.

Electric shock collars are used to train dogs by punishing unwanted behaviours through the application of a shock to the dog’s neck. However, studies have shown that these devices have a serious impact on the welfare of dogs, including behavioural and physiological signs of distress. Robust research evidence shows that such techniques are not needed, with positive reinforcement being more effective at changing behaviour. 

Today (Wednesday, 24 January), representatives from The Kennel Club, Dogs Trust, RSPCA, Battersea, the British Veterinary Association and Blue Cross will join MPs at an event in Westminster to call on the Government to deliver on their promise to ban the use of these cruel devices.

Mark Beazley, Chief Executive at The Kennel Club, said: “The Government has demonstrated a disappointing lack of commitment towards animal welfare over the last year, with the abandonment of the Kept Animals Bill, which promised long overdue and vital protections for animals, followed by the mishandling of the ban on XL Bully dogs, which has caused significant distress for thousands of dog owners across the UK.  

“Pet owners have been let down time and time again by broken promises, and we are really concerned that important animal welfare issues are continuing to disappear from the political agenda.

“Electric shock collars are outdated, cruel devices, which cause physical and psychological harm, and our data shows that a ban is supported by more than three-quarters of the population (77 per cent). We are determined to prevent yet another U-turn from the Government that would have a devastating impact on dog welfare, and we urge them to keep their promise and ban these devices as a priority.”

Extensive evidence, including research funded by Defra – the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – shows that shock collars not only cause unnecessary harm and suffering for dogs, but they also do not create a greater deterrent for disobedience and do not result in better learning or behavioural outcomes.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council have also highlighted that the vast majority of livestock worrying incidents involve dogs that have escaped from their homes, with Lord Benyon, Defra Minister, claiming ‘these are cases that hand-controlled e-collars could not have prevented’. Meanwhile the National Farmers Union recognise that for the minority of cases which involve dogs being walked, keeping a dog on a lead in the vicinity of livestock will be the most effective route to preventing livestock worrying, and the police have also been clear that they would not recommend the use of e-collars to prevent instances of livestock worrying.

Further information about The Kennel Club's campaign to ban electric shock collars can be found on our website.