The use of electric shock collars on dogs is illegal in several Australian states and territories.
Collar-mounted devices capable of delivering an electric shock to the neck (electric shock collars) are designed to deliberately cause physical and mental suffering , are tools for deliberate or unwitting animal abuse , and perpetuate a cycle of violence .
The use of electric shock collars is associated with animal welfare issues including [1, 3, 4]:
- Physical harm (e.g.. discomfort, pain, injury)
- Mental harm (e.g.. fear, anxiety, phobia, negative mood state, learned helplessness)
- Damage to human-animal bonds
- Public health risk for dog bites, arising from evidence that punishment-based methods can provoke fear related aggression towards people [5–8]
There is overwhelming evidence highlighting the animal welfare issues associated with electric shock devices [1, 9, 10] in all types of dogs include those kept as companion animals , livestock working dogs , police dogs , and military dogs .
Electric shock collars on dogs are no longer acceptable
The use of electric shock under the guise of training is not acceptable . Due to animal welfare issues, veterinary and dog training organisations in Australia and overseas warn against the use of electric shock collars, and their use is banned in several Australian states and territories and international jurisdictions.
RSPCA Australia is opposed to the use of any devices which deliver electric shocks, such as anti-barking collars and invisible boundary systems. For more information see the Knowledgebase article: ‘Should I use an anti-barking collar on my dog?’.
Alternative tools and techniques
Training tools and techniques should be both effective and do the least harm. Given effective and less harmful reward-based training methods are available, the use of shock collars is not desirable or necessary [1, 14, 15]. There is no evidence that punishment-based methods such as electric shock are more effective than reward-based methods for animal training. On the contrary, there is evidence indicating that reward-based training is more effective at addressing target behaviour and general obedience, while posing fewer animal welfare risks . For more information on reward-based training, see the Knowledgebase article ‘What is reward-based dog training?’.
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 Overall KL (2007) Why electric shock is not behavior modification. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research 2:1–4
 Casey RA, Naj-Oleari M, Campbell S, Mendl M, Blackwell EJ (2021) Dogs are more pessimistic if their owners use two or more aversive training methods. Sci Rep. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-97743-0
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 Cooper JJ, Cracknell N, Hardiman J, Wright H, Mills D (2014) The welfare consequences and efficacy of training pet dogs with remote electronic training collars in comparison to reward based training. PLoS One. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0102722
 Arnott ER, Early JB, Wade CM, McGreevy PD (2014) Environmental factors associated with success rates of Australian stock herding dogs. PLoS One. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0104457
 Schilder MBH, van der Borg JAM (2004) Training dogs with help of the shock collar: Short and long term behavioural effects. Appl Anim Behav Sci 85:319–334
 Haverbeke A, Laporte B, Depiereux E, Giffroy JM, Diederich C (2008) Training methods of military dog handlers and their effects on the team’s performances. Appl Anim Behav Sci 113:110–122
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 China L, Mills DS, Cooper JJ (2020) Efficacy of Dog Training With and Without Remote Electronic Collars vs. a Focus on Positive Reinforcement. Front Vet Sci. https://doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2020.00508