The Kennel Club has sent out a press release regarding the ban/sale and use of electric shock collars. Nobody should disagree at all with, this, admittedly emotive, sentence from the release “They train dogs out of fear of further punishment by administering shocks to the dog when they do not perform what is asked of them” but there can be another side to the use of the collar. Quite a while ago one Glen of Imaal Terrier owner decided, as it was recommended by somebody who knew these things, to try a shock collar on their huge prey drive Glen. It’s over twelve years ago now but they were rather surprised to discover they couldn’t “just buy one”. They had to give a reason
Both owner and Glen had to then go on a half day course. The course was to discover if a) the reason was genuine b)would it be of any benefit to the Glen and c) was the owner capable of using a shock collar for the reason wanted? Suffice to say a collar-and it wasn’t cheap-went home with them that afternoon. So why had the collar decision been taken? The Glen in question was always walked on a lead. They were quite good with many dogs also on leads but occasionally they weren’t and there was never, ever indication. One second the Glen would be beside you on the lead but the next you would be laid on your stomach with arm outstretched watching it hurtle towards whatever had offended. A Glen in that mode doesn’t stop for anything much and can be a very efficient killing machines. A “whap” via the collar gave a few seconds chance to prevent a mountain of trouble.
The owner wrote their experience up for a newsletter when it was first mooted that “shocks” could possibly be banned because they wanted to say they had actually made a positive difference for them. It had only been used twice and both times had enabled the Glen to be caught before it wrecked havoc. The Glen, muscles bunched and pumped with adrenaline running high, hadn’t feared the “further punishment” mentioned in the article, they had hardly noticed it but it gave enough of a pause for disaster to be averted. A normal life in daylight had been discovered again, rather than only walking only under the cover of darkness. It never made the newsletter because the owner themselves decided pet folk may not understand that there is always at least two sides to every story and asked for it not to be included. We mention it here, the Glen in question long gone with old age to the happy hunting ground, just to illustrate that you can’t believe everything you read….even from the Kennel Club. Sometimes shock collars were for the good, they certainly prevented one Glen at least leaving this world early.
Here’s the press release, dated 27 Feb 2018:
The Kennel Club is delighted that, following a meeting with Rt Hon Michael Gove and Ross Thomson MP just last week, it is understood that a ban on both the sale and use of shock collars is to be announced across the UK shortly, following a consultation period on the terms of such a ban, including a total import ban and a possible amnesty.
The Kennel Club has campaigned for many years that shock collars are an outdated, unnecessary and cruel way of training a dog, with extensive Defra funded research proving they are ineffective training devices which can cause more problems than they seek to correct. 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. However, neither were able to ban the sale of these devices as only Westminster has the power to do so.
Electric shock collars are fitted around a dog’s neck and deliver an electric shock via a remote control or automatic trigger. They train dogs out of fear of further punishment by administering shocks to the dog when they do not perform what is asked of them. There are various models (approximately 170) readily available, ranging from £10 to £200 plus. The cheaper collars will normally have one setting, whilst the more expensive collars have a range of shock settings, from 1-100.
Research published by Defra concluded that the use of electric shock collars as a training method has a long term negative welfare impact on dogs. Furthermore, an independent survey commissioned by the Kennel Club in 2014 found that 73 per cent of the British public are against the use of electric shock collars and 74 per cent would support the Government in introducing a ban on their use. The Kennel Club strongly believe that every dog should be trained using humane, reward-based methods. These are proven to be highly successful in modifying behaviour including aggression, without subjecting dogs to cruelty.
The Kennel Club reinvigorated its #BanShockCollars campaign in Scotland at the end of 2017 following extensive Scottish consultations, in which it called for a complete ban on the use of shock collars amongst Scottish dog owners, and to attempt to put an end to the ever growing pool of ‘electric shock collar’ training days being organised by Scottish dog trainers.
As part of the campaign, the Kennel Club organised a roundtable meeting hosted by Maurice Golden MSP, including leading welfare, training and veterinary organisations. The meeting prompted other supportive MSPs, including Ben Macpherson, Colin Smyth, Christine Graeme, and Mark Ruskell to step up calls for a complete ban on the use of shock collars in Scotland and as a result of their cross party campaigning, this was announced on January 24th.
The Kennel Club looks forward to welcoming MPs from all parties early next month to a shock collar drop-in session where they can show their support for a ban. The Kennel Club will be joined at the session by a cross-party group of MPs, and dog focused welfare organisations including Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, Dogs Trust, Edinburgh Dogs & Cats Home, and the Scottish Kennel Club as well as the BVA, renowned behaviourist Carolyn Menteith and leading researcher into electric shock collars, Dr Jonathan Cooper.
Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary said: “Electric shock collars are banned in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland, Slovenia, and Germany and in some territories of Australia, including New South Wales and Southern Australia – as well as of course Wales, and soon Scotland. It really is time that England follows suit and we are delighted that at last, it is proposed that they do so.
“Given the current debate around animal sentience, now is the right time to recognise that dogs are sentient beings, with a capacity to feel physical and psychological distress. Devices that cause this, in the name of dog training, when so many positive training methods and devices are available are simply unnecessary. We applaud Defra as we understand they are planning to ban shock collars after a consultation on the terms, and for taking such a strong stance on the importance of welfare in dog training.”
After losing a Glen on a busy highway when he broke through a fence chasing a raccoon, in desperation we added an InvisibleFence, which uses a shock collar, to our property. Our other Glens have been perimeter trained using flags to mark the InvisibleFence wire and this, along with the adjacent 4’ cedar fence, has kept 2 generations of Glens safely on our property of 1.5 acres.
We do not use the collars for anything other than containment so cannot speak to their use in obedience training. We only obedience train using positive reinforcement methods, in the firm belief that this strengthens the bond between human and dog.
I understand that the use of shock collars under any circumstances may be unacceptable to some but a total ban seems ill advised.