The Evidence For E-Collars

 

1.  The views of vets

16 October 2018

Threatened Ban On E-Collars

Sir, As rural vets we note that Michael Gove has decided not to ban the e-collars used to keep pets safe in gardens. However, he still plans to prohibit remote-controlled e-collars. About 300,000 responsible dog-lovers use these devices to prevent their dogs from harming other animals, people or themselves. We believe that the welfare consequences of a ban on these collars would be appalling. This is because there has been a sharp rise in attacks on sheep by dogs. As more city residents exercise their dogs in the countryside there has been, according to NFU Mutual, a 67 per cent increase in attacks on sheep over the past two years.

There is good scientific evidence that e-collars are extremely effective at preventing livestock-worrying without causing any detriment to the welfare of the dog. Moreover, we note that there have been no prosecutions for misuse of e-collars. The alternative to e-collars is permanently restricting a dog to a lead. That is no life for the dog. Nor are leads a perfect safety measure: they can break or be wrenched out of the hand.

Dr Matt Smith, MRCVS; Chris Lewis, MRCVS; Dr Duncan Harrison, MRCVS; Richard Jones, MRCVS; Dr Thomas Slater, MRCVS, Dr Tony Warr, MRCVS; Dr Karen Pearce, MRCVS; Dr Matthew Butterell, MRCVS; Dr Samantha Purcell, MRCVS; Dr Bruce Bladon, FRCVS; Dr Jo Cottee, MRCVS

2.  The science is compelling

  • “The collar averted all 13 attempted attacks on lambs”, Andelt
  •  E-collars “resulted in complete and permanent elimination of aggression in all of the 36 dogs tested… the only treatment that has potential for success”, Tortora
  • “No dogs showed interest in or attacked a lone sheep in the path test”, Christiansen
  • “electronic training collars can be an effective remedial measure for some types of problem behaviour in dogs”, Coleman and Murray
  • “the electronic training collar induces less distress and shows stronger ‘learning effect’ in dogs in comparison to the pinch collar”, Salgirli
  • Negative reinforcement is “desirable and necessary”, Marschark and Baenninger
  • “e-collars… the most effective treatment for discouraging predatory behaviour in dogs”, Howell and Bennett
When it comes to effectively stopping off-lead dogs from attacking other animals, the alternatives to responsible e-collar use simply aren’t good enough

3.  Relying on leads is cruel and does not stop dog attacks.

In a survey of veterinary professionals by the PDSA 89% said that the welfare of dogs would suffer if they were “required to be kept on leads”.
Research by NFU Mutual showed that, despite years of public education, 63% of owners still admit to letting their dogs off lead in the countryside with half of the animals not coming back when called. On top of this is the problem of dogs escaping from human control on walks and at home.
In Wales – where e-collars are banned – attacks on sheep more than doubled in one year.

4.  Positive only training has no scientific credibility

The Government has argued that owners should use treat-based positive only training. Yet the idea that you can just use treats or toys to train an off-lead dog with a strong prey instinct not to attack sheep (or other animals) is dangerous and irresponsible. Especially when the dog has escaped from human control.
That is a view shared by scientists. Research by Howell and Bennett found that expert dog trainers from around the world were “pessimistic that it would be possible to prevent predatory behaviour in dogs using only positive, reward-based methods”.

5.  Other countries have decided against banning e-collars.

 
Scotland has decided against a ban. So have the Australian states of Western Australia and Victoria. They believe that guidance and regulations is sufficient to ensure e-collars are used responsibly.
 
In New Zealand the Department of Conservation has gone so far as paying for e-collar training.

5.  Other countries have decided against banning e-collars.

Scotland has decided against a ban. So have the Australian states of Western Australia and Victoria. They believe that guidance and regulations is sufficient to ensure e-collars are used responsibly.
 
In New Zealand the Department of Conservation has gone so far as paying for e-collar training.

6. E-collars are not cruel 

The British Veterinary Association has 18,000 members. Yet in official evidence it has said that it has not seen any evidence of e-collars being abused. The RSPCA has also never found cause to prosecute ove the use of an e-collar. Nor does academic evidence show harm being done.
E-collars can be abused. But so can boots – and nobody is suggesting banning them.
What is cruel is what happens to dogs when they haven’t been trained properly and they end up attacking livestock or other animals. These dogs get shot – or put down. Thousands upon thousands of healthy dogs are killed in this country for lack of effective training.
 

7.  Therese Coffey

Is a cabinet minister. In 2019 The Times reported that – when she was still a Defra minister – she got her family dog trained with an e-colllar. If a Defra minister thinks that the welfare of her dog demands the use of e-collars despite her department planning to ban them then the Government has to explain why.
 
So there are seven strong arguments.
 

7.  Therese Coffey

Is a cabinet minister. In 2019 The Times reported that – when she was still a Defra minister – she got her family dog trained with an e-colllar. If a Defra minister thinks that the welfare of her dog demands the use of e-collars despite her department planning to ban them then the Government has to explain why.

SOMETHING TO DO NOW

You could use some of these arguments in an email to your MP.

To find out your MP’s email address go to this website:
https://www.parliament.uk/get-involved/contact-an-mp-or-lord/contact-your-mp/

When you write your email:

i) give your address in their constituency
ii) include your personal story and
iii) ask for a meeting / or a Zoom call.

The Science

  1. “The collar averted all 13 attempted attacks on lambs” Andelthttps://www.researchgate.net/publication/258098937_Coyote_predation_on_domestic_sheep_deterred_with_electronic_dog-training_collar
  2. E-collars “resulted in complete and permanent elimination of aggression in all of the 36 dogs tested… the only treatment that has potential for success”
    Tortorahttps://cpb-us-w2.wpmucdn.com/about.illinoisstate.edu/dist/6/45/files/2019/10/tortora-1983-safety-signal-training-elimination-of-avoidance-motivated-aggression-in-dogs.pdf
  3. “No dogs showed interest in or attacked a lone sheep in the path test” Christiansenhttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11278032
  4. “Electronic training collars can be an effective remedial measure for some types of problem behaviour in dogs”
    Coleman and Murrayhttp://aiam.org.au/resources/Documents/2000%20UAM/PUB_Pro00_TaniaColeman_RichardMurray.pdf
  5. “The electronic training collar induces less distress and shows stronger ‘learning effect’ in dogs in comparison to the pinch collar” Salgirli 2008: https://leerburg.com/pdf/comparingecollarprongandquittingsignal.pdf
  6. Negative reinforcement “desirable and necessary”
    Marschark and Baenningerhttps://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.2752/089279302786992685
  7. E-collars “the most effective” training,
    Howell and Bennett: see page 6: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S016815912030071X

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