Majority of Scots back ban on electric shock dog collars

Collars have been used to punish dogs' bad behaviour
Collars have been used to punish dogs' bad behaviour
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A majority of Scots back some kind of ban on the use of electric dog collars amid concerns they are “harmful and cruel,” a Scottish Government report indicates.

The devices are operated by remote control and deliver a shock to pets as punishment for bad behaviour.

It has been estimated that up to half a million dog owners across the UK use the collars which can provide shocks lasting up to 30 seconds.

They are already outlawed in Wales where their use can be met with a fine of up to £20,000 or six months in prison.

Ministers in Scotland are now considering a similar approach north of the border and have consulted on the use of all electronic training aids, such as shock collars and boundary fence systems.

Most Scots want to see some kind of ban imposed, with 44% of took part backing a complete ban, while a further 10% back the combination of a ban and stricter regulations.

There was more sympathy, though, for the use of “vibration” collars if these devices could be properly regulated. A total of 1,032 responses were received.

Pet owners, members of the public and animal welfare groups were more likely to be in favour of a ban, warning that they can cause “anxiety-related” behaviour among animals and are harmful and cruel.

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“There is no need to use training methods which are punishment-based and dependent on inflicting pain or creating fear,” opponents state in the consultation.

“This approach suppresses behaviour without addressing its underlying cause or the motivation behind it. The electronic training aids themselves are very difficult to use correctly. There are much more effective and humane positive reinforcement training methods available.”

But there is support for the devices among owners of working dogs and pet supplies stores who said the devices can help to train dogs which may otherwise have to be put down because they are too aggressive.

They can also be effective for working dogs which have a strong instinct to chase other animals and which may not respond to other training cues.

“Most of those who use electronic training aids use them properly,” supporters of the devices claim.

“Anything can be open to misuse, but there is no particular association with electronic training aids - if someone is determined to abuse an animal they will find a way to be cruel or neglectful.

“The existing legislation is sufficient to protect animals.”

The collars are also banned elsewhere in Europe, including Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Germany.

The Scottish Government has already consulted on the use of the collars in 2007, when most animal welfare organisations including the Scottish SPCA, the Scottish Kennel Club and the Dogs Trust supported a ban, along chief police officers.