Russell Brand has a German Shepherd dog called Bear. Bear killed a sheep which led to Mr Brand using a shock collar. Brand was taught how to use the shock collar by a former police dog handler whose name is Jamie Penrith. Mr Penrith is vulnerable to being fined thousands of pounds if he continues to carry on training people like this. Michael Gove the Environment Secretary said in August 2018 that he would ban electric training collars.
This is relevant to domestic cats in the UK because there are devices such as electric fences for cats which deliver a mild shock to a cat who tries to cross it. They are quite common in back gardens to confine cats but they don’t fall within the ambit of the current proposed law which would ban electric shock collars.
The ban has not been implemented but the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said that it will introduce the regulations shortly and that there won’t be exceptions.
The trainer, Mr Penrith, has used his training techniques to turnaround 1,500 potentially dangerous dogs into obedient pets. He is described as a ‘miracle worker’. The manufacturers’ association for electric collars has declared that they will seek judicial review of the proposed ban. This is an application to the high court for a judge to decide if the government’s decision is lawful.
Shock collar training on Mr Brand’s German Shepherd has proved to be highly successful. His dog can walk to heel off the lead through a herd of sheep without any problems whatsoever.
The issue is whether it is cruel to train animals this way. It is negative reinforcement which goes against the grain entirely as training should always be based on positive reinforcement (reward based) which is applicable to cats and dogs. Punishment even when training should always a no-no in respect of our relationship with domestic cats and dogs but some disagree as shock collar training on dogs is effective. It is a balancing act between positives and negatives.