Government call for consultation on shock collars welcomed by animal charities

Animal charities want to protect the health of dogs. Image: George Hodan via Public Domain

The Goverment today announced it is to lead a consultation on banning electric shock collars used to train dogs and other pets.

The Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has called for a six-week consultation following campaigns by Dogs Trust and the RSPCA.

The devices deliver a shock and emit a smell or noise that can be painful to the pet’s hearing as a way of controlling behaviour.

Wales introduced a ban on the use of shock collars in 2010, and Scotland announced its intention to do so just a few weeks ago.

One in four dogs with the collars showed signs of stress, compared to less than five per cent of dogs with non-electric collars, according to research by The Kennel Club.

Dr Rachel Casey, Director of Canine Behaviour and Research at Dogs Trust, said: “Dogs Trust has long campaigned on this issue, and we very much hope this will lead to a ban on the use of these devices, as well as evidence the need to ban their sale.”

Positive methods of training, such as reinforcement, are more widely accepted by animal charities.

“Research has shown that the use of shock collars is associated with signs of distress in dogs, but also that positive reward based methods of training are more effective,” added Dr Casey.

Dog trainers favour the usage but stress the collars are best handled by qualified individuals.

A dog trainer from Cumbria, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “I have been using these collars for 20 years and I have had a 100 per cent success rate.”