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05/07/15 09:30

Electronic training collars for dogs

Consultation on legal controls later this summer.

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead has confirmed the Scottish Government will seek views on additional controls around electronic training collars for dogs.

Mr Lochhead confirmed a consultation will be published within the next few months following a number of requests for electric shock and vibration collars for animals to be banned. It will seek views on the potential for tighter controls and an out-right ban.

Mr Lochhead said:

“Scotland is a nation of animal lovers and we want to make sure animals kept in Scotland benefit from the highest possible standards of animal welfare. The use of electronic training collars is clearly an issue that many people feel strongly about, with advocates on both sides of the debate citing animal welfare as their main driver.

“I have had a number of requests to ban these collars due to valid concerns about their potential misuse, but equally, I have been made aware of numerous situations where these training aids, when used properly, have greatly benefited animal welfare.

“That is why I will publish a further consultation within the next few months. This will take into account recent developments in collar technology, welfare research and mechanisms to mitigate the risks of collar use.

“The options on the table will include a ban or controls on the type of collars that may be used and how they may be used – which we have seen work in other parts of the world, for example in New Zealand and in Victoria, Australia.

“This consultation will give people across Scotland the chance to have an informed say on a range of options to ensure we protect the welfare of dogs.”

Notes to editors

Electronic training collars work by passing an electric current between two terminals that make contact with the skin of the animal. A number of devices are available, the most common ones being remote training, anti-bark and containment.

The previous Scottish Executive ran a public consultation between September-November 2007 seeking views on whether the use or sale of electronic training devices should be prohibited or restricted. This received 164 responses and views were mixed with respondents split equally in their opinion on whether or not electronic collars should be banned. At that time there was limited support for regulating the use or sale of such devices.

The Welsh Assembly Government banned the use of electronic training collars in March 2010 under the Animal Welfare (Electronic Collars) (Wales) Regulations 2010. Other countries that have also banned their use include Sweden, Denmark and Germany.

Some countries, including New Zealand issue guidance on the use of collars in statutory dog welfare codes. Some jurisdictions, for example the Australian State of Victoria, have detailed legal requirements on the technical specification of collars and they may only be used in accordance with a statutory code of practice and under the supervision and written instructions of a veterinary practitioner or a qualified dog trainer.

The latest Defra-funded research into the effect of remote electronic training collars was completed in 2011 and found no evidence of long-term or significant harm to dog welfare, when the collars investigated were used as per manufacturer’s instructions.