Petco will stop selling specific electronic "shock" collars, part of a larger effort to better position itself as a health-and-wellness retailer.
In fact, in connection with this announcement, the retailer has launched a new look that declares “Petco, The Health + Wellness Co,” the retailer said. A major marketing campaign highlighting the company evolution is slated for early 2021.
“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."
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 today.
Consumers 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, all led by more than 1,200 Petco Certified Dog Trainers.
"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 that pet owners have about shock collars. According to a recent study from Edelman Intelligence, 70% of dog owners say shock collars have a negative impact on their pet's emotional or mental well-being, while 69% consider shock collars a cruel training method.
To underscore its commitment to positive reinforcement training methods, Petco is offering a free introductory online training class to pet owners interested in exploring positive reinforcement training.
In addition to the decision to end the sale of shock collars, Petco will continue to expand services and resources, including:
- Providing accessible, affordable and convenient veterinary care via its rapidly growing network of more than 100 full-service in-store vet hospitals – which the company expects to grow to more than 140 by January 2021.
- New and expanded healthcare solutions to minimize costs and encourage comprehensive nose to tail pet wellness for all, including Vital Care – a paid annual plan helping pet parents proactively cover routine pet wellness needs while earning rewards – and growing pet insurance offerings to ensure pets are covered for the unexpected.
- A complete redesign of petco.com and the Petco app to support digital-first health and wellness resources and solutions for pets and pet owners, including online appointment booking, curbside pickup, same day delivery and more.
- A digital "Right Food Finder" to help pet owners determine optimal foods for their pets' nutritional needs.
- Completing the removal of artificial colors, preservatives and flavors from food for aquatic life and small animals, such as rabbits, guinea pigs, reptiles and more, by the end of 2021 – a commitment the company made when it implemented the same industry-leading nutrition standards for dogs and cats in 2019. (Exceptions include some bird and ferret foods, which will take longer to find suitable alternatives.)
- Continued review of Petco's business, products, solutions and services to ensure alignment with its mission to improve lives for pets, pet parents and Petco partners.