A call to ban electric shock collars for animals

The British Veterinary Association and the British Small Animal Association are calling for a complete ban on the sale and use of electric pulse training collars.

Electric shock collars deliver an electric shock either by a remote control or an automatic trigger, for example, a dog’s bark. Electric shock collars train dogs through a fear of further punishment, having received the shock when it does not perform what is asked of it, rather from a natural willingness to obey. Research studies have focused on the physiological effects on learning through the use of electric shock collars showing significant long term welfare consequences for a proportion of the dogs.

The Kennel Club believes there are many positive training tools and methods which can produce dogs trained just as quickly and reliably, with absolutely no fear, pain, or potential damage to the relationship between dog and handler.

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BVA and BSAVA’s response is as a result of consultation and an examination of evidence which has found the collars raise a number of welfare issues, such as the difficulty in accurately judging the level of electric pulse to apply to a dog without causing unnecessary suffering or understanding how variables such as the dog being wet can impact the electric pulse felt.

Grace Webster, president of BVA Scottish Branch, said: “Electronic training devices, such as electric pulse collars, have a negative, painful effect on dogs and can cause them unnecessary suffering. We know from our own experience and expertise, and consultation with leading veterinary behaviourists, that using fear as a training tool is less effective than positive reinforcement and can instead take a toll on the dogs overall welfare.

“Further to this, it is too easy to purchase one of these devices and despite good guidance and manuals, these are often not read fully, leaving the devices open to misuse in the wrong hands.”

Until further research is completed BVA and BSAVA are calling for regulation around the devices sale and manufacturers instructions to ensure the potential adverse effects of use are highlighted to animal owners.