Registered Charity Number: SC041299

E-collars – Who wouldn’t be shocked?

Date Posted: 11 Dec 2015

Ok, here we go…3…2…1… Pressing the button, I instantly feel a needle like sensation stabbing into my arm.

My fingers twitch in three short bursts as the electricity forces my muscles to contract.  This was just the test run and I was only expecting to feel an uncomfortable sensation at this low level, but it is actually painful.  In disbelief I check the device that I have just pressed against my arm.  Surely I made a mistake.  No you are right Gregor, that was setting number 4 and it goes right up to 100! 

I was experimenting with an electric shock collar that I bought off eBay for under £20. They are widely available in England and Scotland, despite having been banned in Wales since 2010.  You can even buy “anti-bark” collars that automatically give an electric shock when the dog barks.  These are designed to be left on the dog when the owner, for example, goes away to work, so that the animal can be shocked without its owner being present. The manual that came with my shock collar doesn’t say how high the voltage can be, but a Government study demonstrated that they can give you a shock of anything up to almost 6000 volts, depending on the brand and how much resistance there is in your skin. 

Looking back at my arm, I can see two red marks where the electrodes made contact. I can see why even the manufacturers warn that “If electronic collars are worn by dogs for prolonged periods, pressure from the dermal contacts can reduce blood supply to the skin resulting in skin damage.” (see ECMA Code of Practice)

Then there is the psychological trauma and fear that the dog experiences.  Why would anyone want to use one of these contraptions when there is evidence that positive reinforcement techniques such as giving treats and praise for good behaviour can be just as, and sometimes more effective than, using one of these barbaric collars?

And that is not the end of it.  You can also purchase other types of devices that, for example, spray citronella near the dog’s face instead.  The effect this has on the dog is unclear, but a dog’s main sense is smell, so overwhelming it with a chemical will inevitably cause discomfort or worse.

OneKind is of the opinion that all electronic training collars should be banned as they are a disproportionate and unnecessary method of controlling pet behaviour.  Positive reinforcement rather than punishment, should be how we train our furry friends.  We are working hard to secure a ban on all types of e-collars.  The Scottish Government is consulting on their use and whether they should be banned or regulated. If you have any experience of these devices and are as shocked (sorry…) as I am that they continue to be on sale then please take part in the Government’s consultation.