URGENT: MP Letter to British Veterinary Association - Final Push 

ARDO electronic training aids 

Ongoing e-collar survey results

ARDO electronic training aids (ETA) user survey responses as of 04/08/23

Total 2,503 responses.
ARDO electronic training aids (ETA) user survey responses as of 04/08/23
Total 2503 responses.

Summary of key responses (Whilst the initial two questions in the survey refer to cats/dogs, no responses received including free text refer solely to cats).

• The majority (69%) of respondents are experienced owners, having over 10 years ownership behind them.
• Over a quarter (26.7%) of dogs have come from rescue centres, suggesting that the problem behaviour was inherited as existing and unresolved.
• 42% of respondents used an ETA to address chase (predatory behaviour), with a further 32.7% using an ETA to address failing to come when called. 73% of respondents used/using an ETA for off-lead reliability – providing for behavioural needs, safely.
• 86% of respondents had already undertaken alternative training to attempt to resolve the problem behaviour, with 35.6% of those having already tried a ‘reward-only’ trainer.
• Only 7 respondents heard about ETA via their vet, suggesting that such professionals have little direct experience of working with the problem behaviours concerned and almost no experience of working with electronic training aids.
• 78% of respondents used their ETA under supervision/guidance with 86.3% of respondents combining reward training with ETA use.
• 42.9% of respondents believe that without the ETA inclusion, their pet would have been confined for life.
• 39.2% of respondents believe that the inclusion of an ETA prevented the death of their pet or another animal.
• 93% of respondents state that the inclusion of the ETA resolved their problem behaviour.
• 98.6% of respondents state that there were no negative effects.

The responses show that the majority of owners using ETA’s are very experienced, with 69% having had pets for over 10 years. Clearly, the figures suggest that training aids are being used responsibly, with 78% of users choosing to use an ETA under supervision and nearly 86.3% combining reward training with ETA inclusion. This suggests that experience of ownership does not guarantee that every animal will be the same as the last or that past experience does not guarantee future success. It also shows that even very experienced owners will seek assistance/minimise risk.

With nearly 27% of dogs coming from a rescue centre, we can see that well over a quarter of ETA users have chosen to offer a home for an animal in an unfortunate position, even when that animal displays problematic, potentially life-threatening behaviour. We can also see that the problem was likely inherited as unresolved from the rescue centre.

Knowing that associations such as the British Veterinary Association (BVA), Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC) and the Animal Behaviour and Training Council (ABTC) follow a reward-based/anti-aversive methodology, we can reliably conclude that such a methodology had failed to address problem behaviour for 35.6% of dogs. We can also see that a further 24.7% of owners failed to have the problem behaviour resolved by attending a training class, meaning that over 60% of owners had sought prior professional help without success.

When we consider the fact that the principal reasons for ETA inclusion are predatory behaviour towards other animals and failing to come when called, it is understandable that training classes have failed to address the issues, since they are generally conducted in sterile, often indoor environments without the temptation and distraction of prey animals. The Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDTUK) state: “A training class is not the place to try to solve a behavioural problem with a dog.” [https://apdt.co.uk/choosing-a-trainer/] Of all respondents, 74.7% incorporated an ETA purely for the provision and protection of their dogs or other animals’ welfare and freedoms (a legal UK requirement), nuisance barking for example, which might be considered an ‘annoyance’ above anything else, together with the containment of pets within a property accounts for less than 2% of reported ETA use.

Another significant point to note is that only 1% of respondents used the ETA for dogs/cats escaping gardens. The National Police Chief Council’s Five Force Report stated that, when it came to sheep worrying, 89% of dogs were unaccompanied. From this, the conclusion was made that the vast majority of sheep worrying cases occur where the dog has escaped its home or garden. Given the high number of respondents that used ETA to address chase behaviours and low number that have used them to address escaping from home, it would appear more likely that the dogs had escaped their owners’ control, for instance breaking the lead, running off, failing recall etc rather than specifically escaping the owners’ home or garden. It is also worth noting here that the results of aversion training DO NOT rely on the owner being present for the training to still be effective.

39.2% of overall respondents believe that the ETA saved the life of their dog or another animal with a further 42.9% saying that the ETA prevented their dog from a life of permanent confinement or restriction. 93% of respondents report that training with an ETA ‘resolved the problem’ with 98.6% reporting ‘no negative effects.’ When we consider that 73% of reported use is to benefit the life experience of the dog and/or other animals, these figures deserve serious consideration.