Wednesday, 20 Oct 2021

Law on whether owners can use electric shock collars to train dogs explained

Shock collars have always been controversial tools for training dogs. They are small bands that can send jolts of electricity to a dog as a training method. But are they legal to use in the UK? The answer is complicated.

Electric shock collars were banned in Wales over a decade ago in 2010. However, people are still allowed to use them in England and Scotland.

Fortunately for humane dog rights activists, the government previously promised a ban on these collars in 2018. There was even a ban put forward in August that year, with Michael Gove saying the collars cause “harm and suffering” to pets.

“We are a nation of animal lovers, and the use of punitive shock collars cause harm and suffering to our pets,” he said. “The ban will improve the welfare of animals, and I urge pet owners to instead use positive reward training methods.”

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Basically, the Government has stated that they will ban shock collars in the future, however the ban is yet to actually be enshrined in law, TeamDogs reports.

RSPCA dog welfare expert Dr Samantha Gaines said: “Electric shock collars have been illegal in Wales since 2010 and the RSPCA has long been calling for them to be outlawed in England too.

“In May 2021, in their action plan for animal welfare Defra (the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) announced that they will ban remote controlled electronic training collars, given their scope to harm cats and dogs.

“These collars are used to train and control cats and dogs but can cause pain and fear. They’re unnecessary for long-term behavioural change which can be achieved using positive reward-based training.

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“It’s time we consigned electric shock collars to the history books as they have no place in modern-day pet ownership.”

So can I use a shock collar on my dog in England and Wales?

Technically yes, it is legal, but it probably won’t be for long. Besides, the Government has announced a ban, and animal welfare charities such including the RSPCA and Dogs Trust have said the devices cause “pain and distress” in animals, so using collars – while still legal – is not encouraged.

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