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Petco announced it has stopped selling specific electronic “shock” collars, strengthening its commitment to positive reinforcement training methods instead.
Recognizing the opportunity to create real change, the company is calling on the industry and consumers to join its movement via an online petition aimed at creating responsible regulation for the retail sale of shock collars to general consumers.
“Electricity may be critical to powering your microwave, but it has no role for the average pet parent training their dog,” said Petco CEO Ron Coughlin. “Shock collars have been shown to increase fear, anxiety and stress in dogs, and we believe there’s a better way – Positive Reinforcement Training. As a health and wellness company, our mission is focused on improving pet lives and we think selling shock collars does the opposite. It’s our responsibility to ensure that we, and others, aren’t putting potentially harmful products in the wrong hands.”
The decision, which was confirmed in consultation with the Petco Pet Wellness Council (PPWC), includes all human- and bark-activated electronic pet collars, commonly referred to as “shock” collars, which have been removed from Petco’s in-store and online assortment as of October 6, 2020. Pet parents will be encouraged to try products and services rooted in positive reinforcement training methods backed by experts, including a newly launched online training program, as well a suite of private and in-home training classes.
“Shock collars are misguided, antiquated, harmful equipment,” said Dr. Alexandra Horowitz, MS, PhD, a member of the PPWC and senior research fellow, adjunct associate professor and head of the Horowitz Dog Cognition Lab at Barnard College. “It’s great to see Petco taking the lead in removing this merchandise from their stores, in support of their advocacy of positive reinforcement training.”
The change also reflects concerns pet parents have today on shock collars. According to a recent study*, 70% of dog parents feel shock collars have a negative impact on their pet’s emotional or mental well-being, while 69% consider shock collars a cruel training method. In fact, 59% of dog parents say they would rather shock themselves than use a shock collar on their dog.
In line with Petco’s push to affect change on this issue, the same study also found that 7 in 10 (71%) dog parents feel there should be limitations on the retail sale of shock collars to prevent human error or abuse, while more than half (51%) say they should only really be used by professionally trained dog trainers.
To underscore its commitment to positive reinforcement training methods, Petco is offering a free introductory online training class to pet parents interested in exploring positive reinforcement training.
“Science shows animals will learn a new behavior faster and more successfully if they are allowed to voluntarily participate in the learning process and are rewarded for preferred behaviors,” said Dr. Whitney Miller, Head of Veterinary Medicine for Petco. “Punishment is not only less successful in changing unwanted behaviors, shock collars have been known to actually reinforce negative behaviors and create anxiety within pets.”
For more information about Petco’s decision to remove shock collars from shelves, visit petco.com/stoptheshock.
* From Sept. 15 – Sept. 17, 2020 Edelman Intelligence fielded a 5-minute online quantitative survey that included 1000 nationally representative U.S. dog parents, ages 18+. Dog parents are defined as dog owners who either possess or share primary responsibility for buying products and services for their pets. The margin of error for this study is 2.8 at the 95% confidence level. Edelman Intelligence is a global, full-service market research firm that provides corporate, non-profit and government clients with strategic intelligence to make their communications and engagements with stakeholders the smartest they can be.