We call on Government to ban electric shock collars

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We have launched our #ShockinglyLegal campaign to help urge the Government to ban the sale of electronic shock collars.

A recent poll1 revealed around a third (31%) of the public wrongly believe shock collars are already illegal, yet despite public opinion, buying and using one of these painful devices to correct a dog’s behaviour, is shockingly still lawful in England.

84% of people know that shock collars cause a dog pain, but the sad reality is that they are still readily available to buy at the click of a button. These torturous devices can send between 100 to 6000 Volts2 to a dog’s neck, and have the capacity to continuously shock a dog for up to 11 terrifying seconds at a time. Research shows that physical effects can include yelping, squealing, crouching, and physiological signs of distress in direct response to an electric shock3,4. It’s not just shock collars – spray and sonic collars are also widely for sale.

Whilst the use of electronic shock collars is banned in Wales, and Scotland has also made moves towards prohibiting the use of these cruel devices, England is dragging its heels. Only Westminster has the power to ban the sale of electronic shock collars so Dogs Trust is urging members of the public to tweet their MP using the hashtag #ShockinglyLegal to help bring this important issue to light. The charity is also holding a reception at the House of Commons with Ross Thompson MP, where they will ask MPs to sign a letter to Secretary of State Michael Gove, backing a ban. Boris Johnson, who compared the practice to caning a child, is among the MPs and peers already pledging support.

Rachel Casey Dogs Trust's Director of Canine Behaviour and Research explains:

“We are appalled that it is still legal to buy and use electronic shock collars in England - 83% of dog owners polled said they wouldn’t use them so why on earth are they legal? It is both unnecessary and cruel to resort to the use of these collars on dogs. This type of device is not only painful for a dog, it can have a serious negative impact on their mental and physical wellbeing. A dog can’t understand when or why it’s being shocked and this can cause it immense distress, with many dogs exhibiting signs of anxiety and worsened behaviour as a result.”

“Positive based methods, such as using rewards like food, are the most effective and kindest way to train your dog, so there is absolutely no need for owners to even consider the use of these devices. We urge everyone who loves dogs to consider the impact that using these kinds of devices can have on our four-legged friends, and join with us in asking your MP for an immediate ban on their sale and their use.”

What is an electronic shock collar?

Electronic shock collars are devices used to remotely or automatically deliver a shock to the wearer via metal contacts with the neck, and are used by some people to try and correct problem behaviour in their dogs.

What is positive based training?

Positive reinforcement training or reward-based training uses praise and/or treats to reward your dog for behaving in the right way. The dog will associate a reward with the desired behaviour, which makes him more likely to repeat the behaviour.

Positive methods of training were reported to be more successful than e-collar use when direct comparisons were made between training with e-collars vs with positive reinforcement.

Find out more about Dogs Trust Dog School

  1. Populus surveyed 2,067 adults online from across the UK. Fieldwork took place between 9th and 11th February 2018. The data has been taken from nationally representative omnibus surveys and has been weighted to the profile of the population. Populus is a founder member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Further information at www.populus.co.uk.
  2. Lines, J. A., Van Driel, K., & Cooper, J. J. (2013). The characteristics of electronic training collars for dogs. Veterinary Record, 172(11), 288 (N.B Voltage, along with other factors such as impedance influence the perception of shock, which is likely to vary between dogs.)
  3. Salgirli, Y., Schalke, E., Boehm, I., & Hackbarth, H. (2012). Comparison of learning effects and stress between 3 different training methods (electronic training collar, pinch collar and quitting signal) in Belgian Malinois Police Dogs. Revue De Medecine Veterinaire, 163, 530-535.
  4. Schilder, M. B., & Van der Borg, J. A. (2004). Training dogs with help of the shock collar: short and long term behavioural effects. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 85(3), 319-334.