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Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN 75065, tabled on 15 November 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what evidence his Department has used to inform any policy or legislation on the use of electric (a) fencing, (b) netting and (c) collars for the control of dogs.

Answered on

23 November 2021

The Government has considered evidence from Defra-funded research, the results of a public consultation, and information from other relevant sources to inform its policy on the use of electronic aids for the control of dogs.

Concerns that remote controlled hand-held electronic training devices, or e-collars, can cause long-term harm have been raised by a number of trainers, behaviourists, the animal welfare sector and dog keeping organisations. In light of these concerns, Defra commissioned a research study to assess the welfare of dogs trained with pet training aids, specifically e-collars. The research showed that many users of the hand-held devices were not using them properly in compliance with the manufacturers’ instructions.

As well as being misused to inflict unnecessary harm, there is also concern that e-collars can redirect aggression or generate anxiety-based behaviour in pets, making underlying behavioural and health problems worse.

Following the completion of the research study, Defra ran a public consultation into the use of e-collars for cats and dogs in England. Respondents to the consultation argued that containment systems, or invisible fencing systems, where set up correctly presented less welfare risks to cats and dogs and offered some protection to them from other harms, such as where they escape onto a busy road.

Defra has also monitored the situation in nations who have already taken steps to restrict or prohibit the use of e-collars, including Wales and some European countries. The department has also considered research published by those nations and other respected sources in determining its response.