K9 Snake Avoidance with E-Collars
Note: No e-collar was used on the pug in this photo. This is for illustration purposes only.
I must state from the beginning that as The Snake Hunter, I do NOT proactively advocate the use of electronic “shock” collars (E-Collars) as the PRIMARY form of educating dogs to avoid snakes.
However, as I research more about protecting man's best friend, I recognise that e-collars may have a place in cases where all other attempts to teach a dog to avoid snakes have been attempted unsuccessfully. Keep in mind, as The Snake Hunter, I am against ALL forms of animal cruelty.
However, when considering the dangers, risks, costs and significant pain/death associated with a snake bite, e-collars have been historically used by qualified trainers to teach dogs to stay away from snakes. It is important to understand there may be a place for e-collars when all other attempts have failed.
I am not here to say that e-collars are “wrong” or “right”. Instead, this page is about helping owners better understand some of the important questions relating to e-collars to determine their effectiveness, appropriate use and relevant laws pertaining to their use so you can make a more informed decision.
Are E-Collars legal?
Yes they are legal in the state of Victoria at the time of writing this document. In accordance with section 17 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regulations 2008 people can use electronic collars on animals in Victoria. These collars can only be used on dogs or cats but not any other species of animal. Further, only government authorised e-collars can be used.
What is an E-Collar?
In accordance with Regulation 5 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regulations 2008, an electronic collar is defined as any animal collar capable of implementing/imparting an electric shock to an animal. There are two main categories of e-collars. These are:
“Containment system collars”
These are collars that are worn by animals as part of a containment system which controls an animal to a specific area through use of a boundary wire and transmitter. This type of collar is not discussed any further.
“Remote Training Collars” (Including anti-bark collars).
These collars can only be used on dogs for the purpose of “anti bark” or remote training.
What is Required To Use An E-Collar?
Regulation 18 of the above regulations specify the requirements for the use of electronic collars. An exact copy of these regulations is below:
A person must not use an authorised electronic collar unless—
(a) a veterinary practitioner has examined the physical health and temperament of the dog or cat and reasonably believes that the dog or cat is suitable to have an authorised electronic collar used on it; and
(b) the dog or cat is over 6 months of age; and
(c) a collar is not left on the dog or cat for more than 12 hours in any 24-hour period; and
(d) the use is in accordance with any instructions for use of the collar provided by the manufacturer; and
(e) the dog or cat is introduced to the use of the collar in accordance with a training program that complies with a code of practice made under section 7 of the Act (if any); and
(f) the collar complies with the following specifications—
(i) the power of the collar must not exceed either 15 milliamps root mean square or 100 milliamps single pulse with a maximum duration of 3 milliamps per second; and
(ii) the length of the stimulation period must be limited by an automatic safety cut-out; and
(iii) the collar must provide for variable levels of static stimulation; and
(g) the collar contacts have safe, rounded points; and
(h) the distance between the collar contact points does not exceed 60 millimetres.
As can be seen above, there are specific requirements that need to be met for the lawful use of electronic collars that include a veterinary practitioner providing an expert opinion that a dog is suitable for an authorised e-collar. Also, the dog must be introduced to the collar through a training program that complies with the code of practice.
The Code of Practice
The code of practice for training dogs to use e-collars is found at: http://agriculture.vic.gov.au/agriculture/animal-health-and-welfare/animal-welfare/animal-welfare-legislation/victorian-codes-of-practice-for-animal-welfare/code-of-practice-for-training-dogs-and-cats-to-wear-electronic-collars
This is an extensive document and for full details, you will need to refer to the above link of which a summary is below. Remember, this code sets out the MINIMUM standards for the use of e-collars.
Prior to the use of an e-collar, it is important to identify the cause of the problem. The dog owner needs to first seek professional advice from a vet, qualified dog trainer or animal behaviourist to provide recommendations prior to the commencement of an e-collar.
Attempt obedience training or any triggers that prevent the learning from occurring. Translating this to helping dogs avoid snakes, it would be best to try to train your dog before attempting the use of an e-collar.
Dog owners need to ensure that a veterinarian has been first consultant to the dog’s psychological health, prior to the use of a collar. Failure to do so could increase risks such as: increasing the dogs anxiety, decreasing their ability to learn, developing incorrect associations, not addressing the underlying issue, inducing a new aggressive response, causing confusion or more.
E-collars must not be used in pregnant or nursing females, dogs with health issues that contradict the use of an ecollar or animals incapable of responding appropriately.
Who is a qualified dog trainer?
A qualified dog trainer as defined by Regulation 5 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regulations 2008, is someone who meets the requirements of Regulation 49(2) of the Domestic Animals Regulations 2005 or who is a member and qualified dog handler of the Victoria Police Dog Squad.
Regulation 49(2) of the Domestic Animals Regulations 2005 defines a ‘qualified dog trainer’ as someone who is a current member of an organisation approved by the Minister and who has completed a training course approved by the Minister for the purpose of dog training.
What should I know if purchasing an e-collar?
If you intend to purchase or hire an e-collar, in accordance with regulation 24(4) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regulations 2008 states that sellers/hirers of authorised e-collars provide information in writing of the legal requirements of the use of these collars in Victoria.
If a dog owner, trainer or anyone else fails to comply with these legislative requirements, they may be issued with an infringement notice or prosecution in a court of law with a maximum penalty of 10 penalty units.
Review of the need for e-collars
If you act under the supervision and written instruction of a vet or qualified dog trainer, THEY must review the use of the collar:
Within 6 months of the initial physical health and temperament assessment of the dog.
At least every 12 months after the first review.
If you Suspect Animal Cruelty:
Note: Simply using an e-collar is not considered by law to be a form of animal cruelty unless failing to abide by the conditions above. However, if you have reason to believe that an individual is being unnecessarily cruel to a dog or any animal, you can immediately report them to the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning: 136 186.
For a full list of reporting agencies to report animal cruelty, go to:
For More Information:
For more information about the laws relating to electronic collars
The Department of Agriculture’s website:
Austlii for the specific legislation pertaining to the Prevention of the Cruelty to Animals Act 2008:
The Code of Practice for the use of e-collars:
Reporting agencies to report animal cruelty:
Again I highlight that I do not endorse nor dissuade people from the use of e-collars as an attempt to protect dogs from snake bites. Above is a summary of the laws pertaining to the use of e-collars as a tool to keep dogs away from snakes. My only point is that if you do use e-collars, they should be a last resort after all other attempts have failed. If you see anyone being unnecessarily cruel to an animal, be sure to report it to the appropriate authorities.
The Snake Hunter