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Welfare consequences and efficacy of using remote electronic collars in dog training

J. J. Cooper, N. Cracknell, J. Hardiman, H. Wright, D. Mills

THE use of dog training collars that can be remotely triggered to deliver an electric shock is controversial. Their use is banned in Wales but legal in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Proponents of electronic collars (sometimes referred to as e-collars), suggest that they allow for negative feedback to be given immediately and remotely after a dog exhibits an unwanted behaviour, thereby aiding in training. However, opponents suggest that their use is bad for canine welfare. The aim of this study, by researchers at the University of Lincoln, was to assess the welfare implications of e-collar training, as well as the efficacy of this approach.

A total of 63 owned dogs that had been referred for problems commonly addressed by e-collars (such as recall problems and livestock worrying) were allocated to one of three groups (21 dogs in each). Dogs in group A were referred to trainers that used e-collars to improve off-the-lead recall. Dogs in group B were referred to the same trainers but were not trained using e-collars. Dogs in group C were referred to a training association that did not use e-collars or any other type of aversive technique. Informed consent …

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