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Public Consultation – Use of Shock Collars

The following was submitted to Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

Friday, January 19th 2024

To whom it may concern, 

The following is a submission for the Public Consultation on the Use of Shock Collars in Ireland.

We are in full agreement with implementing a total prohibition on the sale and utilisation of electric shock collars in Ireland. We would also like to see so-called electric “invisible dog fences” added in for consideration in any legislation. 

Dogs.ie’s stance is that all of these devices inflict undue pain and distress on dogs, and it’s high time for an absolute ban on their usage.

Typical arguments against the use of shock collars for dogs are based on concerns about animal welfare, training efficacy, and the potential for misuse. Here are three key considerations for the committee:

Potential for Physical and Psychological Harm: Opponents of shock collars argue that these devices can cause physical pain, injury (such as burns or cardiac fibrillation), and psychological distress to dogs, including anxiety, fear, and mistrust towards the owner or trainer. There’s a concern that using pain or fear as a training method can lead to increased stress and potential behavioural issues (anxiety, fear, aggression, etc.), contrary to fostering a positive human-animal bond. 

In the case of invisible fences, the dog does not know what behaviour is causing this punishment which leads to confusion and other fears. 

Ineffective for Long-Term Behavior Change: Many animal behaviorists and trainers suggest that shock collars do not address the underlying cause of undesirable behaviors. Instead, they may only suppress symptoms temporarily. Positive reinforcement techniques, on the other hand, are generally seen as more effective for long-term behavior modification as they teach the animal what to do rather than just what not to do. There’s also a risk that a dog may become “collar smart,” only behaving properly or as expected when the collar is on.

Risk of Misuse and Over-Reliance: There’s a concern that shock collars can be easily misused by individuals without proper training or understanding of dog behavior. Incorrect use can exacerbate behavioral problems and harm the dog. Additionally, there’s a risk that owners may over-rely on these devices for quick fixes to behavioral issues, neglecting the need for comprehensive training and relationship building that are crucial for a well-adjusted pet.

Overall, Dogs.ie would welcome a focus on promoting humane training methods and the wellbeing of dogs. Many international professional organisations (such as the Pet Professionals Guild [1] , International Association of Animal Behaviour Consultants [2] and others) advocate for positive reinforcement and other force-free training methods as more ethical and effective alternatives to shock collars.

Finally, if there are plans to leglistate the sale of these devices, they should only be sold to:

  • people over a certain age,
  • from approved retail outlets (e.g. veterinary clinics or pet shops).  
  • have an ability to only “shock” at a low level. 

For further reading we would also recommend the reading of the Kennel Club (UK) position on electric shock collars and the links there to further research [3] 

Is mise le meas,

Paul Savage

Founder  dogs.ie

Other News on Shock collars

  • 5/2/2024 – UK ban on shock collars has fallen through – mirror.co.uk

Resources : 

Submissions may be submitted by email to animalwelfare@agriculture.gov.ie before 16th February 2024.

Updated on February 14, 2024

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