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Essential tool or harmful to a dog’s welfare? Electric shock collars divide opinion. The Kennel Club says it expects the Westminster government to ban them from 2024. The Welsh Government banned them in 2010 and, in 2018, the Scottish Government issued guidance on not using them which had no legal standing.

Dave Templar has been training working dogs professionally since 1987 and is also a shooter. He runs Countryways Gundogs. He says place electric collars have their lace in certain circumstances. He says: “If a dog is chasing sheep and the only difference between the dog being put down and shock treatment, which is a horrible thing to say, then its is probably a good thing.” 

Dave says it’s not the dogs at fault that it chases livestock. He says: “It’s to do with training and breeding. My dogs don’t need it and with their temperament they can’t take it. In the end, you end up producing a dog that can almost take it.”

The show dog community is leading calls for the ban. In a statement, Kennel Club chief executive Mark Beazley says:

“The legislation banning electric shock collars in England, which comes into force next year, is a historic moment for animal welfare and will put an end to the misery and suffering of countless dogs who are still subject to these cruel and unnecessary devices. There is simply no excuse for using these devices, which cause physical and psychological harm, especially given the vast array of positive training methods available.”

Electric dog collars divide opinion

The 2010 Welsh ban on electric collars has its critics. In 2022, NFU Mutual Insurance released figures claiming that Welsh farmers lost more than £300,000 from dog attacks during the previous year.

Farmer Gareth Wyn Jones wants the Welsh e-collar ban reversed

Welsh farmer Gareth Wyn Jones wants the ban reversed. He says it’s disappointing that the English government are following in the Welsh footsteps with the banning of e-collars. He says: “As a farmer that’s seen quite a few horrific livestock attacks by dogs. It needs to be addressed.”

Gareth says anyone buying a dog should really understand what type of dog that buying. He says: “If it’s a herding dog hunting dog and them to get some training done and e collars can be, a great way to prevent dogs from chasing sheep and livestock.”

He says a lot of professional trainers recommend them. He’s upset the governments aren’t listening and the numbers of livestock attacks are rising.

Steve Moran of Stublach Training is a reluctant adovcate of e-collars

Stublach Training‘s Steve Moran has been training dogs for more than 30 years. He works with dogs from all over the country at his kennels in Cheshire. He says electric collars are no substitute for good training. He says: “The reason people are using an electric collar is because the fundamentals have not been put into the dog. They’ve not got a bond with the dog. Why would you take a dog into stock when you can’t even call it back in your own back garden?”

Dave Templar says training is key to controlling a dog

Dave says he’s never used one. He says: “I’ve seen them in action in America. In Memphis, I watched a massive demonstration of how to handle a dog including electric training collars. I was physically sick, because you had a thousand people watching it who now think that those collars are the norm. It’s not the norm.”

He says they’re certainly not necessary in the gundog world.

Gareth says politicians aren’t listening to people who are having problems. He says: “It’s exactly because of that, but they’ve got no idea of what’s happening on the ground in the fields. Sheep are being chased and killed.”

Farmers clash with the Kennel Club over electric dog collars

The Kennel Club says there is wide-ranging evidence demonstrating the detrimental effect that the collars have on the welfare of dogs. It says that, in 2019, a study carried out by the University of Lincoln showed that electric shock collars compromise dogs’ well-being, even when used by ‘professional’ e-collar trainers, and are no more effective in training than positive reinforcement methods. Gundog trainers are split on ‘positive reinforcement’ and as reported in Fieldsports News, Steve Moran is not a fan. He is a reluctant advocate of electric collars. He says: “At certain times if that meant saving a dog’s life, then after looking at all avenues, then and only then would I use it.” 

Steve doesn’t think electric collars should be used by the public. He says: “I’ve seen more dogs broken than made with an electric collar. But I’m not responsible for people’s moral compass. If people are going to go out and buy these collars, they must know that the damage that can actually be done.”

Dave says that, if a dog is aggressive, then people should stop breeding from them. He says: “You’ve got to stop allowing people to own dogs are naturally aggressive. The owner has to take responsibility.”

He says if dogs are allowed to chase sheep then they will learn it’s OK. He says more education is needed. He says: “You can’t say I’ll go home and electrocute my dog when it chases sheep. It was you that let the dog do it. It’s just a natural instinct. You let it do it and enjoys doing it.”

He says there should be a five-year transition for any legislation to ban electric collars to allow people to breed out aggression from dogs and for owners to be fully trained.

Dave Templar suggests a five-year transition for an e-collar ban

Gareth says the collars can help prevent dog attacks. He says: “It would save thousands of sheep lives. Any dog that chases sheep means there’s a possibility the farm is going to go out and shoot it. And that’s the last thing farmers want.”

The rumour in Westminster is that the government is listening to the show-dog community at the Kennel Club and ignoring the advice of working-dog trainers.


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