Dogs Trust, the UK’s leading dog welfare charity, has welcomed Defra’s announcement that the use of hand-held shock collars will be prohibited in England from February 2024.
Electric Shock Collars are used by some to train dogs by punishing unwanted behaviours through the application of a shock to the dog’s neck.
To change unwanted behaviour, the shock administered by electric shock collars needs to be strong enough for the dog to feel pain and be fearful of feeling that pain again. Research has shown that instead of improving behaviour, the use of such devices can actually risk causing further problems.
This step forward in dog welfare will mean that both England and Wales have a similar ban on hand-held electric shock collars, with a ban in place in Wales since 2010, which additionally covers all electronic collars and containment fence systems.
The Scottish Government has stopped short of introducing a ban, instead introducing guidance in 2018 condemning the use of shock collars. However, the Scottish Animal Welfare Commission has recently recommended that the use of electronic collars for the training of animals in Scotland should be prohibited.
In Northern Ireland, the Code of Practice for dogs advises against the use of aversive training methods such as electronic, spray and prong collars.
While Dogs Trust welcomes Defra’s ban on Electric Shock Collars, the charity, which cares for around 14,000 dogs each year using reward-based training methods, had hoped to see the proposed regulation go even further to include a ban on the sale and distribution of electric shock collars, and the use of electric shock containment systems and other aversive training devices.
Dr Rachel Casey, PhD FRCVS, RCVS specialist in Veterinary Behavioural Medicine and director of canine behaviour & research at Dogs Trust, said: “We welcome today’s announcement from Defra that hand-held electric shock collars are to be banned in England. It is both unnecessary and cruel to use these collars on dogs.
“Research has shown that electric shock collars negatively impact dog welfare and instead of improving behaviour, risk causing further behaviour problems. Worse still, they can be a mechanism for abuse if used in anger.”