On several occasions, I have been informed of retailers selling electronic collars. I have also been told by one owner that they were approached by a shire ranger who gave them an electronic collar to try. Numerous reports have come to me of a trainer selling these devices.
Owners appear to be unaware of the legalities of electronic collar use in the states of Victoria and New South Wales so I felt it pertinent to write a post with links to the information regarding the use of such equipment.
- Legal requirements of the use of electronic collars in the state of Victoria – Dog Owners
- Legal requirements of the use of electronic collars in the state of Victoria – Vendors and Hirers
- Australian Veterinary Association policy regarding the use of behaviour modifying collars
Every situation I have seen has not met the criteria of being able to legally use an electronic collar.
The use of an electronic collar is not legal in the state of NSW under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
The use of an electronic collar may be allowed in the state of Victoria but only if the owner has met specific criteria to allow for treatment of the animal’s behaviour and to ensure that the collar is less likely to cause progression of illness.
The criteria for use of electronic collars include physical characteristics of the collar, power specifications of the collar, the age of the animal for intended use and that the collar is not left on the animal for more than a specified time period. There are also three legal requirements that must be met for the use of electronic collars on dogs in the state of Victoria that are failing to be met in any situation I have seen:
- Veterinary examination to assess physical health and temperament prior to use of the collar.
- The collar is introduced to the animal in accordance with the Code of Practice for Training Dogs and Cats to wear Electronic Collars.
- The collar can only be used within a specific training programme that is under the guidance of a veterinarian or a qualified dog trainer approved by the Minister for Agriculture.
Sellers of electronic collars must keep records of the people they sell to and must provide information of the legal conditions of use of the collar in writing to the purchaser.
There are many reasons why a dog may bark. Barking excessively can be a sign of behavioural illness such as anxiety disorder. The use of an aversive stimulus in an animal with such a problem will progress the disorder. Even if the barking goes away, the barking can be the behavioural sign of a much deeper and complex problem within the brain. The problem only becomes deeper and much more complex if not treated appropriately.
There are reasons the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act tries to make it difficult to use this equipment. It is in the health and welfare interests of the animal that we treat the underlying disorder. If it were as easy as an anti-bark collar, there would not ever be barking problems and veterinarians would condone the use of such equipment.
All behaviour needs to take into account the individual and his or her neurophysiology and motivations, the environment he or she is in and the stimuli for the behaviour, as well as any prior emotional or cognitive learning that is contextual for the behaviour seen. To put an anti-bark collar on is massively underestimating what is happening and what can happen to the welfare of the individual animal.