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Animal welfare groups condemn the SNP’s u-turn on electric shock collars

Scottish Conservative MSP Maurice Golden has hit out at the SNP Government after they have u-turned on their decision to ban electric shock collars.

This comes as several dog welfare organisations have published a statement also slamming the SNP Government’s handling of the issue.

The SNP committed to a ban on electric shock collars in January this year after a 20,000-signature petition, started by Maurice Golden, was handed to the Scottish Government.

The failure to follow through on the promise to institute a ban was confirmed by the SNP’s Rural Affairs Minister Mairi Gougeon in response to a parliamentary question earlier this month.

Asked whether shock collars were permitted to be used, Ms Gougeon responded that “The use of electronic training aids is not prohibited.” The Minister further muddied the waters by saying that using a shock collar to cause ‘unnecessary suffering’ may be an offence “depending on the circumstances” – the determining factor being whether the user knew they would cause unnecessary suffering.

In addition, the statement announcing the ban has now been removed from the Scottish Government website.

Several animal welfare organisations, including the Scottish Kennel Club, the Battersea Dogs & Cats Home and the Dogs Trust, have now criticised the SNP Government stating that it “has not delivered on its promise of introducing an effective and prompt ban on aversive training devices in Scotland.”

Commenting Maurice Golden, Scottish Conservative MSP said:


“Earlier this year I was delighted when the Scottish Government listened to the thousands of people across Scotland and announced a ban on electric shock collars for dogs.

“Shock collars are unnecessary and harmful devices.

“We must issue guidance to ban them as soon as possible, which is why it so disappointing that the Scottish Government are now backtracking on implementing this policy.

“The voices of thousands who have expressed a wish to ban electric shock collars should not be ignored.

“It is time for the Scottish Government to explain exactly their position as they are flip flopping on this issue while dogs suffer from these harmful devices.”



Notes to editors:


Statement from dog welfare organisations can be found below –


We the undersigned are of the view that the Scottish Government has not delivered on its promise of introducing an effective and prompt ban on aversive training devices in Scotland. We no longer believe the guidance will be used effectively to educate dog owners that using unpleasant (aversive) stimuli or physical punishment, including electric shock collars to train a dog is not appropriate. We now call on the Scottish Government to introduce regulations to ban all aversive training devices as a priority.

Signed by – Kennel Club, Scottish Kennel Club, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, Dogs Trust, Kennel Club Accredited Instructors, Animal Behaviour and Training Council, Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors, Association of Pet Dog Trainers, Association of Applied Pet Behaviourists and Trainers

The guidance published on the Scottish Government website on the 15th October stated: “Particular training devices that the Scottish Government does not condone are: electronic shock (static pulse) collars, electronic anti-bark collars, electronic containment systems, or any other method to inflict physical punishment or negative reinforcement. This includes the use of any device that squirts oils such as citronella or other noxious chemicals that interfere with a dog's acute sense of smell, or emits any other aversive stimulus. These techniques compromise dog welfare, as they may lead to aggressive responses and worsen the problems that they aim to address by masking or aggravating underlying behavioural issues”.

The Parliamentary Answer Question S5W-19653:  Answered by Mairi Gougeon (07/11/2018):

“The use of electronic training aids is not prohibited; however the Guidance makes it clear that causing unnecessary suffering through their inappropriate use may be, depending upon the circumstances of the case, an offence under the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 if the user knew or ought to have known that the action would cause unnecessary suffering.”

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