Problematic pet behaviour sees concerns over aversive training methods

  • Almost a quarter of dog owners believe using items such as electronic shock collars as part of their pets training is fine - yet over a third wrongly think they are banned in England
  • 22% dog owners have taken advice from YouTube channels and TV programmes, with just 8% of seeking pet behaviour advice from qualified animal behaviourists

The coronavirus crisis and subsequent national lockdowns have driven unprecedented demand for new pets. According to national animal charity, Blue Cross, 34% of us are intending to welcome a furry friend home this year.

But with the lockdown bringing with it restricted access to vets and official pet trainers, there is an increasing worry that people are turning to the wrong sources when seeking much needed advice.

Research launched today by the charity shows that only 8% of people have sought pet behaviour advice from qualified behaviourists, while 22% admit they have instead relied on YouTube channels and TV programmes.

And with calls to charities rising as people struggle in lockdown with pets, another concern is this will result in an increased use of punitive-aversive training techniques. Such techniques are based on the principle of applying an unpleasant stimulus to stop unwanted behaviour and include the use of electric shock collars. Wales banned the use of shock collars in 2010, however the same products are easily and legally accessible in England.

These items are also easily bought online from sites such as Facebook, Pets At Home, Amazon and eBay. Yet this equipment can cause pain and fear, may compromise a dog’s mental wellbeing and welfare and, in some cases, could even provoke the behavioural problems they aim to address.

Ryan Neile, Head of Animal Behaviour at Blue Cross said: “With so many taking on a new pet over the last year, and many more considering a new addition to the family in coming months, it is vital that research into approved and reliable training techniques are investigated. Older techniques such as aversive training are still used by some today, despite further research showing the damage these methods may cause. Sadly, the relationship between a pet and owner can soon break down if the pet cannot trust their owner, which may lead to fear and further behavioural problems.”

Blue Cross are worried that social media and new TV programmes such as Canine Intervention and Dogs Behaving Badly are muddying the waters when it comes to how we ought to train our pets, leading pet owners to do more harm than good.

For assured advice on helping puppies adjust to their new home and dog training tips and techniques visit www.bluecross.org.uk


Notes to Editors

  • The research for Blue Cross was carried out online by Opinion Matters between 04.03.2021 - 08.03.2021 and resulted in 2,022 respondents from a nationally representative sample. All research conducted adheres to the MRS Codes of Conduct (2019) in the UK and ICC/ESOMAR World Research Guidelines. Opinion Matters is registered with the Information Commissioner's Office and is fully compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act (2018).
  • Images, video and spokespeople available for comment contact the media team
  • Blue Cross is a national charity that has been helping sick, injured, abandoned and homeless pets for over 120 years. We help thousands of pets in need every month by providing veterinary care, expert behaviour help and find them loving homes. We also offer education for current and future pet owners plus pet bereavement support for those who have lost their pet companion. Pets help us in so many ways and they depend entirely on us, with your support we can give back to more pets in need. Pets change lives. We change theirs.
  • For more information visit bluecross.org.uk

Media contact:

Blue Cross media team: 0300 777 1950 / [email protected]






— Page last updated 10/03/2021