Electronic training collars for dogs and cats are to be banned under new legislation announced by the Government this week, but despite praise for the decision, many charities are disappointed that containment fences are not included.

The ban has come following a public consultation on the plans which received over 7,000 responses. A considerable number of responses expressed concern at the number of people who use remote-controlled electronic training collars (e-collars) incorrectly and without proper training.

As well as misuse of these hand-held devices, which emit an electronic pulse or spray a noxious chemical, evidence shows that these devices can re-direct aggression or generate anxiety-based behaviour in pet – making underlying behavioural and health problems worse.

Secretary of State Michael Gove said, “We are a nation of animal lovers and the use of punitive shock collars cause harm and suffering to our pets.

“This ban will improve the welfare of animals and I urge pet owners to instead use positive reward training methods.”

Despite a ban on e-collars, the Government added that it will not be including invisible fencing systems, although the situation will be kept under review. This follows around 50% of responders specifically pointing out that they did not want containment fences banned.

“Very disappointed”

National Animal Welfare Trust (NAWT) has welcomed the e-collar ban, saying that it will stop people using this inhumane practice as a ‘quick fix’ training method.

NAWT’s CEO, Clare Williams, said, “We are delighted that the government has announced that they are going to ban the sale and use of e-collars. Good, reward-based training methods like the ones used through our Open Paw programmes here at the National Animal Welfare Trust, are best for animal welfare even though they require an investment in time. The ultimate reward of positive training methods is the strong bond which is developed between dog and human.”

However, the charity says it is very disappointed that the ban does not extend to containment or invisible fences, which use e-collars that are triggered by the fence itself rather than the person.

Clare comments, “Containment fences should also be part of the ban as they have exactly the same impact on the animal as an e-collar used for training. Additional to this, as they can operate without a human present, animals can associate the pain with something in their immediate surroundings and new problem behaviours can be created. We will continue to support lobbying for a ban on containment fences.”

Dogs Trust added that it is “saddened” that the Government hadn’t used the opportunity to ban the use of containment fences, or gone a step further to ban the sale of e-collars.

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