San Francisco, Stop the Shock


San Francisco, CA could become the first City in the U.S. to ban shock collars (also known as e-collars). These collars emit an electric shock to dogs in order to train them and used to deal with behavior problems including aggression.

The UK came very close to banning the devices in 2023. They are banned in Austria, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Scotland, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Wales as well as Quebec in Canada.

Defenders of the collars prefer terminology which refers to a “static correction.” They suggest the corrections are “mild” and do no harm to dogs, and actually help to prevent behavior problems.

In 2020, Petco announced they are no longer selling these devices for ethical reasons and because the collars could cause behavior problems.

Multiple studies suggests training dogs using e-collars is associated with long-term behavioral fallouts, including this one,  “Training dogs with help of the shock collar: short and long term behavioural effects,” published in Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 2004.

Local San Francisco dog trainers founded ShockFree SF, a grassroots campaign dedicated to prohibiting the sale and distribution of e-collars in the Golden Gate City,  longterm a city dedicated to dog welfare. Shock-Free SF advocates have a draft ordinance

Many varied professional organizations support banning e-collars , including but not by any means not limited to the American Veterinary Medical Association to  the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior. The Commission of Animal Control & Welfare in San Francisco wrote this letter in support of the proposed ban.

Right or wrong, dog trainers are not officially licensed or regulated in the U.S. Those who are critics of the proposed ban suggest this move of government intrusion is beyond what is reasonable. Also, companies which make shock collars are opposed – in part because they are concerned that other cities will follow what San Francisco is attempting.

In October, the San Francisco Commission of Animal Control and Welfare voted to support a proposed shock collar ban, after meeting with Shock-Free representatives. Many local pet stores also decided to stop selling shock collars, well before the potential ban was introduced and in line with Petco’s current stance on “static correction devices.”

Now, there’s now a movement to create a California state-wide bill. Or at the very least trainers get a client-consent signature if using this equipment.

While defenders of shock-collars suggest there is little pain involved, and creating pain is not the intent – think about it.

Call the shock whatever you call it – it’s still a shock. Dogs can associate the shock with the person pressing the button, which certainly impacts the human animal bond with an individual or potentially all humans. Otherwise, the shock turns out to be inexplicable from the dog’s perspective; studies demonstrate this lack predictability is even more damaging to dogs’ psyche. And when used to deal with aggression, it turns out aggression (using an aversive correction or shock) ultimately begets further aggression.

Today, most pet parents consider their dogs family members. Is this the kind of treatment our best friends deserve?