Ban electric shock collars

UK Government bans sale of electric shock collars.

The Scottish SPCA is delighted that the UK Government is planning to ban the sale of electric shock collars for use on dogs.

An electric shock collar is worn around a dog’s neck with an electric shock being elicited to a dog either via a remote control or a trigger such as the dog barking. Some argue that this is an effective training method.

As Scotland’s animal welfare charity we strongly believe that the use of a collar that inflicts an electric shock is a lazy and cowardly way of trying to obtain quick results when training any animal. Shock collars inflict pain and suffering and can also lead to further behavioural problems in dogs.

The Scottish SPCA first raised concerns to the UK Government in 2001 following the Home Office’s decision to ban the use of electric shock collars by Police or military dog handlers.

Police and military dog handlers are licenced by the Home Office and are thoroughly trained and regularly monitored and assessed. Therefore if the highest trained, most scrutinised dog handlers are banned from using electric collars then they should not be made available to the general public.

Our own policies prevent the use of any device that can inflict pain on an animal as a means of training, and we are responsible for the care of over 3,000 dogs per year. We care for almost every breed of dog with a range of temperaments and are able to rehabilitate them with great success, with the use of positive, reward based training.

Should shock collars be banned outright?

Although the sale of these collars will now be banned by the UK Government, their use has not been. As sale was a matter reserved by the Westminster Government, the Scottish Government issued guidance to dog owners that such collars should not be used, however that is simply guidance and does not have the full backing of legislation as at the time of issuing the guidance electronic collars were legal to purchase. We hope the Scottish Government considers further measures in light of the decision by Westminster.

These devices are open to misuse by their very nature. The animal subjected to its use has no way of escaping the pain caused as the collar is fixed to their neck. As a hand held device, used in training scenarios that are usually undertaken in private premises, it is very difficult to prove the misuse of a collar.

There is a wealth of evidence that states that even when used in accordance with manufacturer’s guidelines, there is no guarantee that the dog will associate the electric shock with the behaviour the trainer/owner is trying to eliminate.

We strongly believe in the value of structured, reward based, training programmes to address any behavioural issues that may present themselves in animals. There is no reason or need to introduce aversive, painful, stimulus in any scenario.

It is clear that the only acceptable option is to ban the sale and use of electric shock collars.

Chief Superintendent Mike Flynn said, “We welcome the UK Government’s commitment to ending the sale of electric shock collars.

“Although this is a great step forward, The Scottish SPCA would like to see a full ban on the use of electric shock collars. We strongly believe that the use of a collar that inflicts an electric shock is a lazy and cowardly way of trying to obtain quick results when training any animal."

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Dog rescued by the Scottish SPCA with new family

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