Electric shock collars on dogs – arguments for and against

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In an effort to understand both sides of the debate about using electric shock collars on dogs, we spoke to a dog trainer who advocates for their use and the British Veterinary Association who does not.

Jamie Penrith

Jamie Penrith FdSc is a professional dog trainer specializing in applied behavior modification in predatory dogs and an expert in applied dog behavior modification incorporating electronic training aids. He writes:

It is clear to anyone with a shred of experience in the proportionate and humane use of electronic training aids, coupled with objective impartiality, that pressure from the Dogs Trust, The Kennel Club, the BVA et al, Completely ban all electronic training Aids used for both training and modifying existing and often dangerous behavior in some dogs are clearly not in the best interests of animal welfare.

Animal welfare is a difficult concept to apply with precision. We know that there is nothing inherently good or bad about any particular thing or set of things. Some things that we might consider bad may actually be good for us and vice versa, depending on the context.

Along with the Kennel Club, the Dogs Trust, whose net assets in 2016 were 157 million and paid £ 900,000 to 9 employees; claim electronic training aids have been shown to have negative long-term welfare implications for dogs. The BVA, which reported in 2016 in The Telegraph that it would perform “gentle and painless euthanasia” on perfectly healthy dogs for “barking and howling”, saying death was the “least worst option”, is d ‘OK.

Is it true?

A DEFRA-funded study on electronic necklaces and their implications for wellness published in 2014, led DEFRA to state: “A ban on electronic necklaces could not be justified because research provided no evidence that electronic collars pose a significant risk to the welfare of dogs ”.

Indeed, I received a letter from my own MP in February 18 stating: “A number of studies on the effects of shock collars have not found evidence that electric collars cause long term damage to the shock collars. dogs when used appropriately and cannot justify calls for a ban.

Along with the BVA and KC, the Dogs Trust has since made claims that electronic training aids have negative long-term implications for dog welfare.

In 2016, another study, this time involving cats wearing electronic containment fence collars, concluded that there were “no long-term negative welfare effects”; rather, cats have developed more self-confidence. This very recent study is conveniently avoided by those advocates for the ban of electronic collars, as well as a study conducted in 1983 in which “avoidance motivated aggression” was completely and permanently eliminated in 36 of 36 dogs trained with it. remote collars; 100% success rate.

We at the Association of Responsible Dog Owners (joinardo.com) are everyday dog ​​lovers who know from experience that sometimes electronic training aids can and do serve to protect, improve and save. thousands of lives of dogs and other animals, especially cattle.

This is a point that seems to be conveniently lost – it’s not just about the welfare of dogs. As sentient beings, sheep, cattle, chickens, cats and many others equally deserve the right to live a life free from unnecessary suffering, with electronic training aids for highly predatory dogs, under the guidance of professionals with unique and formidable potential to honor more than right.

Denying an animal this opportunity to gain political or financial advantage is neither ethical nor consistent with the principles of genuine welfare. Indeed, it is morally unjustifiable.

The Animal Welfare Act 2006 already covers “unnecessary suffering”. There has never been a single lawsuit under this one relating to electronic training aids.

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Somerset County Gazette:

Gudrun Ravetz

Positive reward-based training is better – and more humane – than shock collars, writes Gudrun Ravetz, senior vice president of the British Veterinary Association.

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) believes that the use of electric pulse training collars, or shock collars, as a means of controlling, training, or punishing pets has the potential to cause serious health problems. -being and training and is susceptible to abuse.

As a profession focused on animal welfare, we have called for a complete ban on the sale and use of electric pulse training collars across the UK to help protect welfare animals, and instead we support and recommend the use of positive reward-based training methods. . At the same time, until there is demonstrable evidence regarding the welfare implications of other aversive training methods such as pet containment fences, we call for their use to be covered by a code of practice instead of a ban.

We were delighted to see an effective ban on the use of impact collars come into force in Wales in 2010 and more recently in a Scottish Government announcement. We also welcome Defra’s consultation on the device ban in England. We will continue to push for a ban on their use in Northern Ireland, and for a complete ban on the import and sale of these devices across the UK.

Evidence-based position

Our position is supported by a body of scientific evidence and research which shows that the application of an electrical impulse, even at a low level, can elicit physiological and behavioral responses associated with stress, pain and fear. In addition, it can also produce long-term adverse effects on the animal’s behavior and emotional responses.

A Defra study also found that many owners and even professional trainers were using shock collars in a way that did not conform to the manufacturer’s manuals, using high settings during training and demonstrating a poor understanding of the shock collars. functions, such as warning signal.

Despite the efforts of the Electronic Collar Manufacturers Association to raise the standards of instruction manuals and products, there is always the risk that the untrained user will not read or misinterpret the instructions. It can also be difficult for a pet owner to understand exactly what effect the collar has on a dog’s behavior if they are not used to interpreting canine behavior.

Equally important, electric shock collars have been shown to not produce better results than positive reinforcement training, even when used for recall and chase, although this is the scenario for which Advocates of electronic necklaces particularly recommend necklaces.

Thus, although there is no specific evidence demonstrating that the use of shock collar training works where other techniques fail, there is a significant body of literature that shows that shock collar training. rewards or positive reinforcement methods are more effective than punishment-based training.

Other aversive training devices

There is currently a lack of research and evidence regarding the welfare implications of using other aversive methods of training and control, including pet containment fences and collars using noise, vibrations, ultrasound, or a spray of water or lemongrass, which can be just as stressful for an animal. We would like more evidence to be gathered on their use and effectiveness; in the meantime, we would like to see them covered by a code of good practice, as well as the regulation of the sale of these devices and the manufacturer’s instructions, to ensure that the potential adverse effects of use are highlighted to owners. animals and consumers.

Seek advice from a veterinarian

Behavior and training are vitally important, but they must be done in a human way. The veterinary profession recognizes the importance of addressing animal behavior issues, both in terms of animal welfare and public safety.

That’s why we recommend that anyone who needs advice on dealing with behavioral problems in pets, such as potentially dangerous roaming in cats or worrying about livestock in dogs, speak to their veterinarian. for advice on how to do this in a positive, caring and effective manner.

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