Electronic shock collars: Shockingly still legal says Dogs Trust

Posted On: 
20th February 2018

The UK’s largest dog welfare charity Dogs Trust calls on the Government to ban the sale of electric shock collars with campaign.

These devices can send between 100 to 6000 Volts to a dog’s neck, and have the capacity to continuously shock a dog for up to 11 seconds at a time.
Clive Tagg

Many of us consider our dogs to be members of the family – so why is it still legal to buy and use devices that use pain and fear to train our beloved pets?

Electronic training devices such as electric shock collars use the principle of being aversive to dogs to correct problem behaviours and so have the potential to seriously negatively impact dog welfare. These torturous devices can send between 100 to 6000 Volts to a dog’s neck, and have the capacity to continuously shock a dog for up to 11 terrifying seconds at a time.

Unsurprisingly, a recent poll revealed around a third (31%) of the public wrongly believe shock collars are already illegal. The sad reality is that despite public opinion, and the Animal Welfare Act 2006 stating that an animal in the care of humans needs to be protected from pain, suffering and injury, buying and using one of these painful devices to correct a dog’s behaviour is shockingly still lawful in England. It’s not just shock collars – spray and sonic collars are also widely for sale.

Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, cares for more than 15,000 dogs every year using reward-based methods of training only. Under no circumstances do we condone the use of electronic aversive training devices, which research has indicated induce both physiological and behavioural indicators of stress in dogs, such as increases in the stress hormone cortisol and behavioural signs including yelping, squealing, crouching, and physiological signs of distress in direct response to an electric shock.

In 2010 Wales led the way by banning the use of electronic shock collars. This decision was later upheld at judicial review based on evidence that the animal welfare cost is likely to exceed the benefits from use of electric shock collars as training devices, since they may cause pain. Furthermore, effective alternatives exist and the scope for misuse or abuse is too great.

Dogs Trust was pleased last month when the Scottish Government announced that it too would be taking a positive step for animal welfare by moving towards a ban on the use of electric shock, sonic and spray collars.

Despite these much needed changes to better protect the welfare of our best friends, only Westminster has the power to ban the sale of these unnecessary devices across the UK, yet so far there has been no move to do so.

That’s why today Dogs Trust is holding a drop in session in the House of Commons giving Members of Parliament and Peers an opportunity to speak to our Canine Behaviour and Research Team about why electric shock, sonic and spray collars are detrimental to dog welfare, and to sign a pledge board and letter to the Secretary of State Michael Gove backing a ban.

We hope we can rely on MPs and Peers to consider the impact that using these kinds of devices can have on our four-legged friends and support our call to Government to implement a ban on the sale and use of electric shock, sonic and spray collars.