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BC SPCA launches campaign to stop use of shock collars

February 21, 2019

The BC SPCA is calling on dog owners to take a pledge not to use shock collars – also known as electronic or e-collars – as a training tool for their pet.

“We know that some dog owners turn to aversive training tools, such as electronic collars, out of a genuine desire to keep their pet safe,” says Dr. Karen van Haaften, senior manager of behaviour and welfare for the BC SPCA and a Board-certified veterinary specialist in behaviour. “They may not be aware that e-collars can cause both physical and psychological pain for their pet and that there are humane, reward-based training options available that are just as, if not more, effective in addressing unwanted behaviours.”

Sad Boston terrier wearing shock collar

Shock collars work by delivering an uncomfortable electrostatic shock to the dog’s skin. “While these collars can alter behaviour, there is a growing body of evidence from across North America and Europe that their short- or long-term use is associated with high levels of stress, phobias, fear and increased aggression in dogs,” says Dr. van Haaften.  “In addition, electronic shock collars can cause physical harm, such as an unhealthy increase in heart rate and severe burns to an animal’s neck.”

Dr. van Haaften notes that veterinary associations and humane organizations have long recognized that punishment-based training is detrimental to animals. “One of the most unfortunate, and inadvertent, results of shock collar use can be a breakdown in the bond between an individual and their pet,” says Dr. van Haaften. “An animal will sometimes associate the pain of the shock with other things in their environment at the time, including their owner. We urge people to seek out one of the many effective, reward-based training options available and to take a stand against harmful tools like shock collars.”

To learn more and take the pledge, visit spca.bc.ca/shockcollars.