Are electric collars for dogs illegal?

Answering this question is not straightforward due to confusion around the definition of what constitutes an electric collar and varying rules and regulations in different countries, states and territories. In this article, we will limit our discussion to Australia.

Historically, there has been very little regulation around dog collars which has resulted in harmful products being released onto the market. For the purpose of this article, we will refer to these harmful products as dog shock collars as opposed to the more advanced and dog-friendly electronic collars.

Dog shock collars are legal in some states of Australia and not in others. Queensland has no specific restrictions on dog shock collars under the Animal Care & Protection Act 2001, although this is currently under review. Likewise, Tasmania has no specific restrictions. Other states in Australia have varying laws allowing different degrees of use. A full list of local laws for each of the states can be found here.

In the past dog shock collars have been able to deliver shock sensations that have been too strong and harmful to dogs. With no regulation, many dogs have suffered either through incorrect use of the shock collars or through poorly designed shock collars, designed only to provide an instant result without any real thought to the welfare of the dog. These types of products definitely need to be outlawed for the welfare of our dogs.

In some states, the wording of the legislation prohibits the use of what they call electric collars, perhaps associating them with traditional electric fences. This has created a great deal of confusion around the type of barking collars that can be legally used.

It is common for people to use the terms dog shock collar, dog bark collar and electric bark collar interchangeably when each can actually have very different meanings and operating systems, even though the desired outcome is the same. The terms are also commonly used in marketing and advertising as they are what people are familiar with. This interchanging of terms creates a lot of confusion. However, this is changing as customers become more educated and brand aware.

With the type of products we use here at Hidden Fence, it is actually more accurate to describe barking collars as electronic dog collars. Our dog collars receive a radio signal from a transmitter. The collar then emits progressively a sound, a vibration and then an electronic stimulus that feels a little bit like the sensation you might get from using a tens machine. They also have built-in safety features designed to stop the stimulus if your dog does not respond within a predetermined time frame,

It is important to understand that all electronic pet containment systems need to be installed correctly with proper training. When this is done the welfare of the animal is prioritised. It is also important to understand that owners need to weigh up the pros and cons of using a containment system that uses electronic stimulation for themselves.

The following questions should be helpful when determining if the use of electronic dog collars and containment systems are right for you:

  1. Is there a solution of containment that can be successful without the use of an electronic containment system?
  2. Is the pet at risk of harming itself?
  3. Does the pets escaping behaviour pose an imminent threat to its environment or ramifications thereof?
  4. Will the pet be free to move about the property with relatively sizable space, unchained or uninhibited from movement?
  5. Do local laws prohibit wandering pets?
  6. Does the owner have the financial means of properly containing their pet?
  7. Is the critical risk of harm greater than the e-stimulus?

More detailed discussion around each of these questions can be found here

To conclude: the use of electric shock collars is illegal in some states of Australia, depending on the wording used in the legislation. However, electronic containment systems are permitted in most states of Australia, some with specific requirements.

Our team at Hidden Fence is committed to providing you with safe, effective, electronic containment solutions and the welfare of your pet is a paramount consideration. If you are thinking of an electronic dog collar as part of an overall containment system, talk to us about the options available.