#banshockcollars: The case for banning electric shock collars for good

Dogs Trust has launched a lobbying campaign to ban the sale of painful training devices. So far, 79 MPs are in support of the ban

 A still from Dogs Trust's campaign video

Just like we no longer cane children to teach them discipline, it is extraordinary that we should still use electric shock collars to discipline dogs. And yet, while choosing reward-based training over punishment should be a no-brainer, around 5% of dog owners still believe it is a good idea to send an electric shock of between 100 and 6,000 Volts to their dog’s neck as an apparent training method.

Last week, Dogs Trust stepped up its lobbying efforts calling on the government to ban the use of electric shock collars. These horrendous devices send a shock similar to sticking your fingers into a power socket to the dog’s neck. The campaign called, using the hashtags #shockinglylegal and #banshockcollars, made national news.
On the BBC Radio 4’s Your and Yours programme spokesman for the Electronic Collar Manufacturers Association Duncan McNair tried to defend the use of these items, but when asked whether they can cause pain replied: “They can do, but 1.5 million cruelty complaints to the RSPCA have not resulted in a single prosecution for causing suffering with an electronic training collar.”

Beverley Cuddy, editor of Dogs Today, responded: “It’s about kindness and positivity. In this day and age, there is no reason for zapping our best friends.”


Within less than a week since the campaign launched, Dogs Trust told Wunderdog 79 MPs have pledged their support and Scottish Conservative MP Ross Thompson is working closely with the charity on this. (Find the complete list of MPs below.) Today, The Sun reported that Michael Gove, secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, will ask his department to study a total import ban of these collars and an amnesty.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) also campaigns on the issue and emphasises understanding of our canines to train them positively. It released a survey of 3,000 dog owners this month under the banner #dogkind, which found that, while 88% of dog owners said dog training shouldn’t worry, frighten or hurt the animal, 5% use electric shock collars.
Dog welfare expert Dr Samantha Gaines, working with the RSPCA, said: “It seems that some owners do not fully understand what dogs find frightening and how our behaviour can impact on their welfare. Shouting, smacking and the use of choke chains, pinch collars, spray collars and electric shock collars can all cause fear and pain.”

These pointlessly cruel devices remain legal in England and Northern Ireland, while the Scottish government announced at the end of January that it would enact a ban. Scotland’s cabinet secretary for environment, climate change and land reform, Roseanna Cunningham, said: “After carefully considering the concerns raised by stakeholders and the public about electronic training collars for dogs, particularly the ready availability on the internet of cheap devices which can be bought by anyone and used to deliver painful electric shocks, I have decided to take steps to effectively and promptly ban their use in Scotland.”

Cunningham, however, warned that under current devolution arrangements the actual import of electric shock collars could only be banned by the national government in Westminster. So, as long as the ban on shock collars isn’t national, it will be hard to enforce.

Wales has been leading the UK’s efforts in banning these devices and made their use illegal in 2010.

What can we do?

As functioning human beings who love dogs, it is without question that we support this long-overdue ban. To support the campaign, tweet or email your MP about the issue. If you don’t know your MP’s name, find them here.

These MPs have pledged their support for the ban so far (Twitter handles included where available to send them a note of appreciation):

1.       Bim Afolami (C, Hitchin and Harpenden)
2.      Mike Amesbury (L, Weaver Vale)
3.      Sir David Amess (C, Southend West)
4.      Tonia Antoniazzi (Welsh L, Gower)
5.      Bob Blackman (C, Harrow West)
6.      Andrew Bowie (Scottish C, West Aberdeenshire and Kincard)
7.       Deidre Brock (SNP, Edinburgh North & Leith)
8.      Alan Brown (SNP,  Kilmarnock & Loudoun)
9.       Conor Burns (C, Bournemouth West)
10.      Dr Lisa Cameron (SNP, East Kilbride, Strathaven & Lesmahagow)
11.       Alan Campbell (L, Tynemouth)
12.      Joanna Cherry QC (SNP, Edinburgh South West)
13.      Colin Clark (Scottish C, Gordon)
14.      James Cleverly (C, Braintree)
15.      Ann Clwyd (Welsh L, Cynon Valley)
16.      Vernon Coaker (L, Gedling)
17.      Rosie Cooper (L, West Lancashire)
18.      Robert Courts (C, Witney & West Oxfordshire)
19.      Alex Cunningham (L, Stockton North)
20.     Wayne David (Welsh L, Caerphilly)
21.      Martin Docherty-Hughes (SNP, West Dunbartonshire)
22.     David Duguid (Scottish C, Banff & Buchan)
23.     Angela Eagle (L, Wallasey)
24.     Bill Esterson (L, Sefton Central)
25.     Jim Fitzpatrick (L, Popla & Limehouse)
26.     Kevin Foster (C, Torquay and Paignton)
27.     Gill Furniss (L, Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough)
28.     Roger Gale (C, North Thanet)
29.     Ruth George (L, High Peak)
30.     Patricia Gibson (SNP, North Ayrshire & Arran)
31.     Peter Grant (SNP, Glenrothes & Central Fife)
32.     Neil Gray (SNP, Airdrie & Shotts)
33.     Andrew Gwynne (L, Denton & Reddish)
34.     Kirstene Hair (Scottish C, Angus)
35.     Drew Hendry (SNP, Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey)
36.     Sharon Hodgson (L, Washington & Sunderland West)
37.     Eddie Hughes (C, Walsall North)
38.     Alister Jack (Scottish C, Dumfries and Galloway)
39.     Andrea Jenkyns (C, Morley and Outwood)
40.     Boris Johnson (C, Uxbridge & South Ruislip)
41.     Gerald Jones (Welsh L, Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney)
42.     Graham Jones (L, Haslingden & Hyndburn)
43.     Gillian Keegan (C, Chichester)
44.     Barbara Keeley (L, Worsley and Eccles South)
45.     Stephen Lloyd (LD, Eastbourne & Willingdon)
46.     Craig Mackinlay (C, South Thanet)
47.     Rachel Maclean (C, Redditch)
48.     Sandy Martin (L, Ipswich)
49.     Rachael Maskell (L, York Central)
50.     Paul Masterton (Scottish C, East Renfrewshire)
51.     Stuart McDonald (CNP, Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch)
52.     Liz McInnes (L, Heywood & Middleton)
53.     Carol Monaghan (SNP, Glasgow North West)
54.     Damien Moore (C, Southport)
55.     Grahame Morris (L, Easington)
56.     Ian Murray (Scottish L, Edinburgh South)
57.     Sheryll Murray (C, South East Cornwall)
58.    Guy Opperman (C, Hexham)
59.    Teresa Pearce (L, Erith & Thamesmead)
60.    Sir Mike Penning (C, Hemel Hempstead)
61.    Faisal Rashid (L, Warrington South)
62.   John Redwood (C, Wokingham)
63.   Andrew Rosindell (C, Romford)
64.   Liz Saville-Roberts (Welsh Plaid Cymru, Dwyfor Meirionnydd)
65.   Jim Shannon (DUP, Strangford)
66.   Tommy Sheppard (SNP, Edinburgh West)
67.   Paula Sherriff (L, Dewsbury, Mirfield, Denby Dale & Kirkburton)
68.   Angela Smith (L, Basildon)
69.   Chris Stephens (SNP, Glasgow South West)
70.   Andrew Stephenson (C, Pendle)
71.   Bob Stewart (C, Beckenham)
72.   Ross Thomson (Scottish C, Aberdeen South)
73.   Justin Tomlinson (C, North Swindon)
74.   Anna Turley (L, Redcar)
75.   Giles Watling (C, Clacton)
76.   Martin Whitfield (Scottish L, East Lothian)
77.    Pete Wishart (SNP, Perth & North Perthshire)
78.   William Wragg (C, Hazel Grove)
79.   Lord Trees (crossbench)

What else can I do?

If you own an independently spirited dog that might benefit from learning about how to function in a human-dominated environment, reward-based training programmes are available throughout the country. The Dogs Trust runs regular courses – find out more here.

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