Calls to ban dog shock collars from NZ pet stores

  • 21/09/2016
Animal advocacy group SAFE would like to see the products banned (Getty)
Animal advocacy group SAFE would like to see the products banned (Getty)

Animal advocacy groups and veterinarians are supporting calls to take electric shock dog collars off the shelves of Kiwi pet stores.

Pet store Animates this week responded to concerns from a customer about the collars, saying it stands behind Petsafe Anti-Bark Collars to "be used to correct many nuisance behaviours, which could otherwise result in the euthanasia of animals".

"Animates are very passionate about the welfare of pets and do not sell products that we deem inhumane," the store told NetGuide.

Animates provides "ongoing training for our team members to ensure that the right collar is recommened as appropriate for the dogs' behaviour/size/age and importantly that the collars are used correctly".

But the collars are banned in some countries, and the New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA) says many dogs respond to the shocks with fear, anxiety, shutdown and aggression.

"Not everybody is skilled at reading a dog's body language, and some of the more subtle signs of fear and anxiety - such as holding ears flat and tucking tails down - may not be understood by an unskilled trainer whose dog is enduring punishment-based training," says NZVA operations manager Rochelle Ferguson.

Ms Ferguson says the NZVA would like to see the collars restricted to appropriately trained people with qualifications and experience in animal behaviour.

"The potential for unskilled users to make the problem behaviour worse and cause stress and anxiety for their dog is far too high for them to be purchased and used without expert oversight."

She says in cases of severe and prolonged barking, dog owners should seek advice from a veterinarian or qualified dog behaviourist.

"For some dogs it may be a matter of resolving their boredom. They are a pack animal, and being left alone for more than four hours has been shown to reduce some dogs' welfare."

Animal advocacy group SAFE agrees and would like to see the products banned.

"Electric collars are often used as a 'shortcut' to proper dog training," says executive director Hans Kriek. 

"When used by inexperienced trainers, these collars will do more harm than good. We would certainly recommend that Animates stops selling these collars."