Deldalle S, Gaunet F Effects of 2 training methods on stress-related behaviors of the dog (Canis familiaris) and on the dog–owner relationship. Journal of Veterinary Behavior.. 2014; 9:(2)58-65

Vieira de Castro AC, Fuchs D, Morello GM, Pastur S, de Sousa L, Olsson IAS Does training method matter? Evidence for the negative impact of aversive-based methods on companion dog welfare. PLoS One.. 2020; 15:(12)

Reward-based training is key

02 February 2024
2 mins read
Volume 15 · Issue 1

Last year it was announced that hand-held electric shock collars would be banned for use in dogs and cats in England from 1 February 2024. At the time of writing, this has not come into force because Parliament was not given time to debate it. Leading veterinary and animal welfare organisations have reacted with anger to the news and called on the government to implement the ban as soon as possible.

The public are widely supportive of the ban, with polls conducted by The Kennel Club and RSPCA showing that over 9 in 10 UK adults support an urgent ban on the use of shock collars and 51 000 members of the public showing support for the ban by writing to their MPs.

Electric shock collars are used by some pet owners to train their animals by punishing unwanted behaviours using a shock delivered to the pet's neck. They are meant to work by giving the animal a shock that causes them to be fearful of experiencing that feeling again, meaning that in theory they will avoid doing the unwanted behaviour in future. However, research (Vieira de Castro et al, 2020) shows that aversive training methods lead to more stress-related behaviours during training and higher increases in cortisol levels post-training than dogs that were trained in a reward-based way. Electric shock collars, even used at low shock levels, can also cause behavioural responses associated with stress, pain and fear (Deldalle and Gaunet, 2014). Dogs and cats may not understand that their behaviour resulted in the electric shock, leading them to become fearful of something else instead. This can lead to them becoming aggressive towards a person or another pet, creating long-term behaviour problems.

Register now to continue reading

Thank you for visiting The Veterinary Nurse and reading some of our peer-reviewed content for veterinary professionals. To continue reading this article, please register today.