The Canadian province of Quebec has taken important steps in protecting the safety and welfare of pets by establishing their “MAPAQ Guide d’application du règlement sur la sécurité et le bien-être des chats et des chiens,” or Guide to Implementing Rules on the Safety and Well-Being of Dogs and Cats.
The guide, which outlines regulations regarding pet ownership in Quebec including standards of care, licensing, housing and shelter requirements, was met with both praise and backlash when the latest version, released in November of 2013, included a province-wide ban on the use of shock and/or prong collars.
Specifically, the law states that the collar “must not interfere with breathing or cause him pain or injury.” In addition to an absolute ban on shock and prong type collars, the Guide further clarifies that choke-chain type collars should only be used as a temporary measure of restraint, such as during walks, and should never be left on a dog that is unattended.
Dog owners in Quebec caught using shock or prong collars will initially be given a warning, and subsequently issued heavy fines, no less than about $600 per incident.
These types of collars are already banned in several countries and provinces around the world including New Zealand, Wales, Switzerland, parts of Australia, and are currently being considered for a ban in Germany.
This ban on shock (also called electronic collars, e-collars, zap collars) and prong (sometimes called pinch collars) collars is a victory for both the dogs of Quebec that will no longer be subjected to pain and suffering through such aversion training techniques, but also for proponents of scientifically proven Positive Training techniques.
Trainer Kevin Duggan, CPDT-KA of All Dogs Go To Kevin, LLC, explained, “This is a huge step in the right direction. These “tools” cause dogs to do things because they want to avoid the pain or stimuli associated with them. Science has shown us that there are better ways to teach dogs and also modify their behavior. Yes, even severe cases can be fixed without these. We refer to dogs as “man’s best friend” so lets treat them like they deserve to be treated.”
In other words, when properly trained using Positive training methods, your dog can reliably do what you ask of him because he wants to do it, not because he is afraid not to.
Still, those who oppose the ban believe this in an infringement on their right to train their dogs as they see fit, or in a method that they have found to work for them. Rather than viewing it as an opportunity to learn longer lasting, proven, reward-based training methods, these pet owners are angered by their government’s position, seeking to overturn the rule.
Do you agree or disagree with Quebec’s ban on shock and prong collars? Would you celebrate a similar ban in your own country or state?