Time to ban electric-shock collars for dogs

 

Sir, – On behalf of our members, the committee of the Association of Pet DogTrainers Ireland (APDT Ireland), a national network of highly skilled dog-training instructors, wish to unequivocally lend our support to the ISPCA’s call for the Government to follow the examples of the Welsh and Scottish governments in banning shock-collars for dogs, in all of their forms.

APDT Ireland members are committed to the use of evidence-led, force-free, and effective dog training. Scientific studies have repeatedly shown that the use of electric shock collars, both to train dogs and to contain them, to be potentially damaging not only to dogs physically, but also emotionally and behaviourally. Their efficacy relies upon them delivering a highly aversive shock to the dog’s throat, which the dog must find ways to avoid. Use of such “quick fix” techniques or equipment that utilise avoidance of the sensations of pain, discomfort or being startled is known to result in unwanted and troublesome behaviours and welfare deficits, which can be difficult to rehabilitate. The scientific evidence is supported worldwide by ethical dog trainers in an applied setting, who report serious consequences in dogs that have been exposed to training or confinement using electric shock collars, including chronic and disabling anxiety, and aggression directed both towards other dogs, and towards people.

We at APDT Ireland consider electric shock collars in all of their forms to be highly aversive at best, and very much open to misuse and abuse at worst. Supporters of electric shock collars will defend their use by insisting that they do no harm, or that they only deliver a “small” shock, but this illustrates their misunderstanding of how aversive even a “small” shock can be, particularly when delivered to the sensitive area of the throat. The simple truth is that unless the effect of the shock collar is sufficiently aversive and punitive to dogs, they don’t work. Supporters of their use also minimise the behavioural consequences that our members, and members of other internationally recognised professional dog training and behaviour organisations, commonly report.

Electric shock collars have no place in dog training or confinement, particularly in light of there being positive, non-harmful, and more effective alternatives available. – Yours, etc,

MAUREEN BYRNE,

MSc, PhD, CCAB;

EMMALINE

DUFFY-FALLON, SFSPCA, CCBev Truss RVN, DipCABT;

ALISON BUSH, BSc;

Association of Pet

Dog-Trainers Ireland,

Rhode, Co Offaly.