Roger Salmon column: Controversy reigns over electric shock dog collars

Roger Salmon
Roger Salmon

The Kennel Club is urging the government to ban electric shock collars after two different research studies found ‘conclusive proof’ they could actually cause more behavioural problems than they save.

The research also concluded that electric shock collars are not more effective than positive reinforcement methods –such as reward-based training – for recall and chasing, which are often cited as the two main reasons for the use of such devices.

A man in Wales was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £1,000 costs for using a battery-operated collar to train his pet border collie.

The collars, which were banned in Wales last year, are still legal in other parts of Britain and give the animal an electric shock when it strays beyond designated boundaries.

About 500,000 British dog owners use the device.

The Kennel Club welcomed the prosecution. A spokesman said: “Electric shock collars train dogs through pain and fear. They are a cruel and outdated and unsuitable method of training dogs.”

The magistrates at Bridgend were told that the collar gave the dog an electric shock when it went near a specific fence to escape from its home. A young couple found the collie, wearing the illegal collar, roaming on a beach near its home.

They handed the dog over to the Dogs Trust Charity, who traced the owner through a microchip. Magistrates were told the dog ignored the shocks and kept on escaping. It was known at a local kennels as “the dog with the shock collar”.

The collars are still legal in England and Scotland but their legality is due to be debated in parliament at Westminster and in Scotland.

The Electronic Collars Manufacturing Association has denied that the use of such collars is painful to dogs.