Consultation on potential controls or prohibition of electronic training aids

Consultation analysis on electronic training aids for pets, dogs and cats.


This report presents an analysis of responses to the Scottish Government's consultation on potential controls or prohibition of electronic training aids in Scotland.

The consultation covered the use of electronic training devices for cats and dogs. It included remote control training collars, anti-bark collars and pet containment fences (also known as electric boundary or freedom fences) using either a static electric pulse, sound, vibration or spray.


At present there is no specific legislation in place in Scotland for the regulation, manufacture or use of electronic training devices. However, Section 19 of the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 makes it an offence to cause a protected animal unnecessary suffering. A "protected animal" is defined in section 17 and in these circumstances would normally relate to any animal under the control of man. Section 48 of the Act makes it clear that "suffering" includes mental as well as physical suffering. If it could be proved that activating, or causing an electric collar to be activated on a dog or cat, caused it to suffer unnecessarily then an offence would have been committed.

In 2007 the Scottish Government issued a consultation paper on the use, sale, distribution and possession of Electronic Training Aids. Since then, the technical specifications of electronic training devices have moved on and instructions for use have improved. There is also now a larger range of electronic training collars and greater availability of these devices with many being sold through the internet. In the past few years some countries have introduced bans or regulated the use of these devices, and there has been further research into the welfare impact of such devices on animals.

There were four options proposed in this consultation:

1.Status quo. Produce industry guidance for dog owners and trainers on the proper use of electronic training collars.

2.Develop gu idance or a statutory welfare code. Produce a code of practice or animal welfare code under Sections 37 and 38 of the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006).

3.Develop regulations on the use of electronic collars. Introduce regulations or legislative controls under Sections 26 and 27 of the 2006 Act.

4.Ban the use of electronic collars. Introduce regulations to ban the use of electronic collars in Scotland under Section 26 of the 2006 Act.

The consultation ran from 6 November 2015 to 29 January 2016 and asked 20 main questions.

Profile of respondents

A total of 1,032 consultation responses were received. Of these, 894 were submitted through the Scottish Government's online consultation hub. A further 138 email or hard copy responses were received.

The consultation asked respondents to indicate which sector they most aligned themselves with for the purpose of the consultation. The information provided formed the basis for developing the respondent categories used throughout the analysis. [1] Respondents who did not identify a sector or selected 'Other' have been placed into a category based on further information provided (either at that question or elsewhere within their response). A number of those who selected 'Other' noted that they fell into more than one category - for example they were both an animal trainer and a pet owner or an animal behaviourist and an animal trainer. These respondents have generally been placed into the first category they identified. [2]

A profile of respondents by category is set out in Table 1 below. A list of the groups that submitted a response to the consultation is included as Annex 1 to this report.

Table 1: Respondents by category

Category of respondent Group Individual Total in category As % of all respondents
Animal behaviourist 4 39 43 4%
Animal care 1 5 6 1%
Animal trainer 12 125 137 13%
Animal welfare 20 25 45 4%
Local government 7 - 7 1%
Member of the general public - 74 74 7%
Pet owner 1 660 661 64%
Pet supplies, including manufacturers & retailers and trade bodies 3 6 9 1%
Veterinary professional 3 23 26 3%
Owner of working dogs 3 21 24 2%
Total 54 978 1032 100%

The majority of responses - 978 or 95% of all responses - were submitted by individuals. The remaining responses - 54 or 5% of all responses were submitted by groups or organisations.

Points to note about the respondent categories are:

  • The 'Animal behaviourist' category (4% of all respondents) includes a response from a group at the University of Lincoln which has been carrying out research into electronic training aids.
  • The 'Animal care' category (1% of all respondents) is made up of respondents who identified that they run a pet care-related business such as boarding kennels or a dog walking service.
  • The 'Animal trainer' category (13% of all respondents) includes two representative bodies (Association of Pet Dog Owners and the Pet Professional Guild). Further comments made within responses suggest that this category includes respondents who work, or have worked, as animal trainers. It may also include some respondents who identified themselves as animal trainers based on experiences of training their own pet(s).
  • Respondents who identified themselves as Dog Societies (9 respondents) or Cat Societies [3] (3 respondents) have been included within the 'Animal welfare' category (4% of all respondents). This category also includes national animal charities and/or campaigning groups such as the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Scottish SPCA), the Dogs Trust, the Kennel Club and Scottish Kennel Club and the Scottish Countryside Alliance.
  • The 'Local government' category (1% of all respondents) includes a response from the Animal Health and Welfare Strategy Group for Scottish Local Authorities.
  • The 'Member of the general public' category (7% of all respondents) includes a joint response submitted by two Members of the Scottish Parliament.
  • Pet owners formed the largest respondent category at 64% of all respondents.
  • The 'Pet supplies' category (1% of all respondents) includes two trade bodies, The Pet Industry Federation and the Electronic Collar Manufacturer Association ( ECMA).
  • The 'Veterinary professional' category (3% of all respondents) includes veterinary practices and people who identified themselves as current or former vets or veterinary nurses. It also includes a joint response submitted by the British Veterinary Association, British Small Animal Veterinary Association ( BSAVA) and BVA Scottish Branch.
  • The 'Owner of working dogs' category (2% of all respondents) includes respondents who selected the 'Other' category and then went on to note a connection with working dogs, including through farming or countryside sports. [4]

Table 2 below gives information on where respondents currently reside.

Table 2: Respondent country of current residence

Country of residence N %
Scotland 616 60%
England 256 25%
Wales 4 <1%
Northern Ireland 4 <1%
Other - UK 5 <1%
Republic of Ireland 8 1%
United States of America 63 6%
Canada 18 2%
Australia 16 2%
Other 23 2%
Not known 19 2%
TOTAL 1032 100%

The majority of all respondents (60% or 3 in 5) currently reside in Scotland and a further 26%, or 1 in 4, in others parts of the United Kingdom. The largest proportion of respondents from outwith the UK currently reside in the USA (6%).

Analysis and reporting

The remainder of this report presents a question-by-question analysis of responses given at each of the questions set out in the consultation document.

The results from the closed questions (yes/no, a list of types of devices from which to select etc.), are presented in tabular form. At some questions summary results are included within the main report and full results (usually broken down by respondent category) have been provided at Annex 4. Given the relatively high level of response overall, percentages are presented within the report. However, it should be noted that the relatively small number of respondents within some respondent categories does mean that percentage values should be viewed as indicative.

The qualitative analysis of further comments focuses primarily on issues of direct relevance to the specific question. In particular, a number of respondents restated their broader support for, or disagreement with, the use of electronic training aids at a number of different questions. The main analysis of this broader issue is presented under Questions 1 and 2.

The terminology used in the report reflects that of the consultation paper. This includes the description of different types of devices and of static pulse remote training collars in particular.

A short method note is appended to this report as Annex 2.


Email: Graeme Beale,

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