Shock Collars Now Banned in the UK
When it comes to animal welfare, the U.S. does not lead the world. Shock collars or e-collars have now been banned in the UK (law goes into effect February 1, 2024). This follows a ten-year UK campaign: #BanShockCollars.
The problem is that these collars truly deliver an electric shock to a dog’s neck via a remote-control device, some as far as a mile or more away. And the shock can last for 11 seconds, and also be significant or mild. However, even a mild shock is not exactly the most efficient or humane way to train our best friends.
The UK isn’t the first to ban these collars: The are banned in France (just this year), New Zealand, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Wales as well as throughout most of Australia and in Quebec Canada and Boulder, CO. In 2020, Petco announced they are no longer selling these devices. In Scotland, there are ongoing efforts to ban these devices.
There is wide-ranging evidence demonstrating the detrimental effect that these devices have on dog welfare, and often the human animal bond.
In 2019, a study carried out by the University of Lincoln in the UK showed that electric shock collars compromised dog’s well-being, even when used by ‘professional’ e-collar trainers, and were no more effective in training than positive reinforcement methods.
The now numerous studies which support the notion that shock collars may diminish learning and are inhumane are too long to list. Here’s just one, “Training dogs with help of the shock collar: short and long term behavioural effects,” published in Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 2004.
The American Kennel Club has no stance or campaign regarding training methods, but that’s not the case in the UK, as the The Kennel Club website offers information about the dangers of shock collars.
One argument is that the shock is often mild.
Okay – so put one of those collars around your own neck, try it.
Then the argument shifts to: Dogs don’t feel the pain as we do.
While many of us assumed that wasn’t true decades ago, looking at canine neurochemistry, today we know dogs feel the shock exactly the same as we do….and studies have demonstrated that dogs sometimes pay a physical price later in life, as aside from the psychological impact of being shocked.
What’s most shocking to me is that even so-called professional trainers in the U.S. are using this equipment – even after all these years – and offering all sorts of rationalizations.