Petco has stopped selling shock collars and is calling on others in the pet industry to follow suit.
The San Diego, CA-based pet supply retailer announced tuesday that it had stopped selling all electronic shock collars, including human- and bark-activated models.
Petco CEO Ron Coughlin said in the announcement that shock collars have been shown to “increase fear, anxiety and stress in dogs.”
“As a health and wellness company, our mission is focused on improving the lives of pets, and we believe selling shock collars does the opposite,” Coughlin said. “It is our responsibility to ensure that we, and others, do not get potentially harmful products into the wrong hands.”
The store will instead promote positive reinforcement training methods, which reward good behavior instead of punishing bad behavior, as recommended by the Petco Pet Wellness Council, a group of veterinary science and animal care experts. that the company brought together last year.
“Shock collars are misguided, outdated and harmful equipment,” said Dr. Alexandra Horowitz, PPWC member and head of the Horowitz Dog Cognition Lab at Barnard College, in a written statement.
Petco offers a free introductory online course on positive reinforcement training. It is also expanding the services and resources it offers to help pet owners care for their animal friends.
Dr Whitney Miller, chief veterinary officer at Petco, said science shows animals will learn faster if they are allowed to voluntarily participate in the process and are rewarded for their preferred behavior.
“Punishment is not only less effective at changing unwanted behaviors, shock collars are known to reinforce negative behaviors and create anxiety in pets,” Miller said.
Petco has also started a petition calling on other retailers and pet owners to stop selling, buying and using shock collars other than under the direction of a certified dog trainer.
The chain movement seems to have a lot of support. Nearly 14,000 people had signed the petition by Tuesday evening.
A recent study by research and analytics firm Edelman Intelligence found that 69% of “dog parents” consider shock collars to be cruel, and 59% said they would rather electrocute themselves than use a shock collar on their dog.
“Electricity may be essential to powering your microwave, but it has no role for the average parent training their dog,” Coughlin said.