The British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) recommends against the use of electronic shock collars and other aversive methods for the training and containment of animals. Shocks and other aversive stimuli received during training may not only be acutely stressful, painful and frightening for the animals, but may also produce long term adverse effects on behavioural and emotional responses.
The Association recognises that all electronic devices that employ shock as a form of punishing or controlling behaviour and other means that rely on aversive stimuli are open to potential abuse and that incorrect use of such training aids has the potential to cause welfare problems.
The BSAVA now consider that there is sufficient evidence to introduce legislation banning remotely controlled static pulse training collars, in order to help protect animal welfare.
Apart from the potentially detrimental effect on the animal receiving shocks there is also anecdotal evidence that there is a risk to public safety from the use of shock systems, as they evoke aggression in dogs under certain circumstances.
The BSAVA strongly recommends the use of positive reinforcement training methods that could replace those using aversive stimuli.
In 2010 the Welsh Assembly introduced legislation to prohibit the use of electronic collars in dogs and cats with Animal Welfare (Electronic Collars) (Wales) regulations 2010 made under section 12 of the Animal Welfare Act, 2006. An offence under these regulations carries a maximum period of imprisonments of 51 weeks, a fine, or both. The first prosecution was brought in July 2011 and the owner was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £1,000 costs. Please click here to read more.
In January 2016 BSAVA and BVA responded to the Scottish Government’s consultation “Potential controls or prohibition of electronic training aids in Scotland”. In this they supported a ban on both remotely controlled static pulse training collars and remotely controlled static pulse anti-bark collars and stated, as a minimum, they would welcome a statutory Code of Practice for all aversive training aids until there is scientific research to demonstrate that the use of such aids does not pose a welfare risk.
Dog Welfare Campaign
The CAWC report on The Use of Electric Pulse Training Aids (EPTAs) in Companion Animals
Studies to assess the effect of pet training aids, specifically remote static pulse systems on the welfare of domestic dogs; field study of dogs in training - AW1402A
A review of recent evidence in relation to the welfare implications for cats and dogs arising from the use of electronic collars
Approval: BSAVA Council as Policy Statement No. 31 (Use of electronic collars in companion animals)
Recent update: June 2012
Addended: June 2016
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