Episode 214: England Banned Shock Collars, Here’s Why That Could Be Sad News

Episode 214: England Banned Shock Collars, Here’s Why That Could Be Sad News

2023-07-13T15:43:04+00:00May 12th, 2023|14 Comments

England has banned using remote electric shock collars on dogs starting from February 2024. Why do I find this sad if shock collars aren’t tools I use or advocate? And why is the term “shock collar” offensive to some who use them? I’m covering both questions, why many people will be upset with me about my thoughts on the e-collar ban and alternate solutions for people and dogs.

In the episode you'll hear:

The pros and cons of England’s ban on e-collars.
Why the term “shock collar” triggers some dog trainers.
The three groups of people who use shock collars and why.
Why shocking dogs for ‘bad’ behaviors is not a solution.
That one of the biggest pet store chains in North America stopped selling e-Collars.
That banning one punishment device could make an even worse one popular.
How the way we choose to train dogs relates to the stories we tell ourselves.
The ways people try to manage their dog’s behavior and justifications for e-Collar use.
My curiosity as to why some elite dog sports competitors are still using shock collars.
How the positive reinforcement dog training community can advocate through education.


Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!


  1. Graham Bloodworth April 2, 2024 at 3:02 pm - Reply

    Yes shock collars are banned now in the UK, pain should never be used as a training aid, and Border Collies are ultra focused the problem is getting them to switch off.
    Sadly many XL Bullies were owned by idiots with their own agenda and no interest in training them to be social. Yet even family dogs with good homes had dogs turn on the owner or child in the household. We could not allow more incidents where people were killed by the breed. True the media sensationalized it, bad news sells copy.
    Sensible owners have complied with the £93 exemption registration, neutering and insurance required, plus muzzled and on a lead in public.

  2. Caroline Deforche January 17, 2024 at 3:30 pm - Reply

    I am so happy that Susan feels this way about e-collars. Legislation will indeed not stop certain people from using other coercive methods.
    I have a book by the German Dr Dorit Urd Feddersen-Petersen, Hundepsychologie, and in a separate chapter on e-collars she writes not only about the questionable ethics of inflicting pain on an animal to train behaviour or improve performance, but also about the as-yet unknown impact on neurophysiology.
    Someone wrote a comment about working line bred Malinois. Some of those dogs are indeed very tough, but I have know some working Malinois that let go perfectly well without an e-collar after a firm bite. So even there, an e-collar is not a necessity. By using new insights and training methods, it is possible to train and control even these dogs in a positive way. Without having to heavily correct the dogs. The science of positive training is not different for those dogs. It is also the job of breeders to breed dogs that go high enough in drift but are still manageable.
    It is time for science to fully penetrate Dog Land and and for certain traditions and primitive ideas to become a thing of the past once and for all.

  3. Joy November 6, 2023 at 8:27 pm - Reply

    It’s funny… now they are banning XL Bullies.
    Susan called it on the possible snowball effect of banning shock collars being sad partially for a similar reason.
    I am personally against most bans of (almost) any type, for this reason. They almost always snowball.

  4. Jenny Hogan June 22, 2023 at 5:38 pm - Reply

    Plenty of food for thought thank you..
    Understanding why we make the choices we do, can really help us decide how we want to progress.

    3 comments following on from this well thought through podcast .

    1. As an owner of an 8yr old bolting cocker, never having a reliable recall, How easy it would have been to go down the shock collar route. How glad we didn’t. We recently discovered she probably had pressure on a spinal nerve all her life, behavior changes following surgery suggest that the bolting was a way of her coping with constant pain. We continue to manage her safety on a long line. Sometimes we make the biggest progress learning to accept the dog in front of us .

    2. With regards to understanding the unconscious choices and biases we have. I can so recommend reading
    ” the status game” by william Storr 2021.
    His well researched evidence suggests that much of our behaviour is driven by 2 conflicting pressures within the tribes that we identify with :.

    the desire for status and the fear of humiliation

    From his premis can I suggest that the world of dog trainers is divided in to 2 very different camps :
    1: those of us who fear the humiliation of being seen by others with a dog that doesnt do what we ask of it

    as opposed to
    2: Those of us who would be totally humiliated if they were found to be knowingly causing harm or distress to an animal who cant speak for themselves .

    It would be interesting with this in mind, if just listening to the “experts” on social media, how quickly we could pick which they would find more humiliating just by their delivery of information , and how that affects their personal training choices ?

    And finally, Susan I wonder if you are already aware of Selby Dennis of https://milestoneequestrian.ca/paget
    I love her presentations on the conflicts of the use of aversive in the horse world .
    It would be fantastic to listen to a podcast discussion on the similarities and differences in R+ training of a predatory animal and a prey/flight animal . Just a thought !

  5. Jess Williams May 25, 2023 at 9:38 pm - Reply

    Until you are personally competing in protection with a working line bred Malinois, I believe you’re overstepping quite a bit when discussing this topic. Many of the dogs training in these sports end up working with the police or military forces. Most of these real world situations are not games like Pickleball and don’t involve trophies or ribbons, they have actual consequences- often times grave ones.

    I have gone to bat for you many times before in relation to you training bird dogs. You used to use this example quite a bit back in the day with your community. I firmly believe you would pick proper genetics and trial-and-error your way to the top through reinforcement-based methods in that sport if you chose. However, working dogs and protection are not a field you are in the slightest bit acquainted with, so before you single out an entire community, please consider varying levels of drives and genetics and respecting those who have spent their entire careers attempting to poetically balance both of these topics.

    • Lisa July 20, 2023 at 1:41 pm - Reply

      Jess (and Chris) – I’m curious if you are familiar with Denise Fenzi of Fenzi Dog Sports Academy? I know she has had several Mals and she is training her current one for bitey sports using positive training techniques. I know nothing about the bitey sports, but if you are looking for examples of +R trainers who can train high drive dogs for bite sports, she’s a good one to check out.

      • Jess Williams September 5, 2023 at 5:15 pm - Reply

        Thanks for your comment, Lisa!

        It was my understanding that her first dog Dice is now in a home with a balanced trainer in the Midwest competing in IGP and her new dog Xen has been doing more flyball than protection. As I said in a public post to Denise in the past in response to one of her podcasts, I truly wish her and Xen the best on the field.

        My comment was not to suggest bite sports can’t be taught with positive reinforcement and without the use of ecollars. My husband actually owns one of the only titled French Ring Border Collies in this country (closely related to many US and Canadian agility world team dogs). That dog certainly didn’t wear an ecollar for protection training.

        My initial response to this podcast was to make a point that Malinois are in fact different than other high drive dogs in many ways and insulting those who still use balanced training in protection sports who are succeeding at the highest levels nationally and internationally didn’t necessarily have to be included within the context of this podcast.

    • Christa June 14, 2023 at 8:43 am - Reply

      First ever comment on this site, enjoying Susan’s videos so far (aside from no real true videos of real mouthy puppies); nonetheless, I couldn’t agree with you more!! While we don’t have a dog that’s genetically like a Malinois, my very dear friend adopted a Dutch Shepherd in January. She grew up on a farm, has raised and helped train over 30 dogs of all breeds, all ages, all backgrounds, etc, and she has quickly found out this is an incredibly unique breed. Took her 4+ vets to agree to accept the puppy (at 3 months) as a patient! 😳 She uses a prong collar and even struggled with that. There’s no one size fits all for dogs. I’m enjoying Susan’s training; however, there are a lot of behaviors my playful, sweet, cuddly Portuguese Water Dog is exhibiting that I’m not seeing any logical solutions for so far.

      All this to say….you’re 💯 correct. The innate instincts with these strong working dogs like Dutch Shepherd’s, Malinois, German Shepherd’s, etc. require breed specific training specialists.

    • Susan Garrett May 28, 2023 at 4:20 am - Reply

      Your comment Jess, is a great reflection why most people in the Bitey sport world will likely never have success training their sport without all of their tools. My personal opinion is that it is less likely to do with, the breed or breeding of the dog, and more likely to do with something that I’ve always had, and many from “your side of the fence” lack. That is belief.

      I believe in the laws of learning, I believe in what is possible with a strategic approach to reinforcement. Because I believe I don’t look to the drive state of the dog as an excuse to use a tool, I look to the protocol of the training for an opportunity to learn something new about myself, about my dog and about what ELSE is possible with the use of manipulating reinforcements, arousal states and distractions.

      But if you want to continue to believe I would never be able to train a working Malinois you go right ahead, it’s a question we will never know the real answer to because at 61 years old, I have zero interest in trying to convert non-believers into believers. I would much rather help those who truly want to believe see how brilliant their dogs can be when trained without the use of physical or verbal corrections.

  6. kate brown May 12, 2023 at 8:21 pm - Reply

    Susan once again. Thank you for being the voice for every single dog in the world!

  7. Sandy Lewis May 12, 2023 at 7:43 pm - Reply

    This hurt my heart and brought tears to my eyes. Perhaps, in this video you have given us a few places from which to speak with the e-collar folk. Perhaps we will fail our dogs and community. a bit less. Perhaps, . . . because, when we know better, we do better.

  8. Bobbie Eiler May 12, 2023 at 7:17 pm - Reply

    I use a perimeter collar to keep her in the yard. When we are outside and she sees/ hears something she will go off after it if the collar is not on. I can call her back but I think that’s only if she’s not chasing something. Even right now she has 4 wk old pups – we were outside on grass for a feeding. Feeding done, she was playing with them then got distracted by something in the woods and took off.
    Would love to know something different that we can do?
    Nova is 2 1/2 yr old blue heeler, 1st time litter. She knows 30 tricks and is GCC. Will take Trick test when the pups are gone.
    Ty for your wonderful podcasts!

  9. Barbara Galbraith May 12, 2023 at 5:01 pm - Reply

    I know I have felt that desperation of wanting to try an e collar on my “stubborn “ dog, and if it weren’t for the education and encouragement of others I may have fallen for the lure of the e collar. We are a society that wants quick fixes- give me a pill for that rather than change t diet or exercise to work for improving my health for example. I am saddens to learn today that one of my clients has set up a board and train with an e collar trainer to break the dog of jumping on people in greetings, loose leash or off leash walking, and recall. This is a 10month old Labrador who is a lovely, friendly, and very intelligent pup. The family is retired, so they are concerned for safety and want better control over their dog, who is very strong. They have always had labs, but it has been 15+ years since having a puppy so I think they don’t really remember the adolescent phases. I struggle to get through to them that we have to introduce distractions at a controlled rate, and you can’t expect the dog to perform the same out on a walk as she does in the home of you aren’t practicing with distractions. They love the dog and spend more time with her than many owners. I think they are just overwhelmed (additional situations other than the dog) and looking for a quick fix. I worry about the changes they may see in this sweet pup. I even offered to bring her into my home to train her prior to her e collar boot camp, but they said I can’t change their mind on this. This is my first client that will start with an e collar and I didn’t realize how heartbreaking this could be. Your advice is welcome

    • Daniela June 14, 2023 at 10:34 pm - Reply

      I feel for you. It feels so much like we have failed the dog, because we couldn’t save them from being put through pain all in the name of “training”. It’s terrible. Some situations like older/frail people + young boisterous dogs are sometimes tough or maybe even impossible to resolve. I guess we have to live with these failures, and hope that sometime soon more countries ban these terrible devices.

Leave A Comment


Go to Top