I can understand that. I've seen it myself (not with my dogs, admittedly), and as a professional horse trainer who has dealt with a lot of "lost causes," I've done some extreme things that I would never, ever use on 99% of horses in the world, or recommend to people, and that would probably have upset anyone watching. As I thought about it a bit more last night, I realized that my last post was a little hypocritical when I considered that.
I'll also admit that I sort of skimmed over the "nastiest dog I've owned in my life" part.
I wanted to read the answer in context before replying and had read so much trying to find it before it occurred to me to Ctrl+F, my eyes were crossing a bit.
Also, just to be clear, I was using female pronouns in my last post as I thought it was Cindy writing, and I'm still not sure who it was, but it doesn't really matter to me so I'll attribute it to Ed in this post.
I'm not against last-ditch extreme measures to prevent a dangerous behavior--better an extreme correction than euthanasia, as you said--so while I'm still a little skeptical that a shovel was really the best option, I also wasn't there and after more thought will acknowledge that I could be wrong.* I'm also not at all wanting to imply that I doubt Ed's knowledge or credentials with working dogs. I really do respect his opinions and experience, and read his site pretty regularly. I don't agree with everything he says (but I can't really name a trainer I do 100% agree with!), but I have learned a lot from his stuff.
However, I really still think that it was an inappropriate answer to that question. I think for the vast, vast majority of dogs (and especially the ones whose owners are going to be taking advice from that site--most experienced working dog handlers I know don't need advice on how to handle fence fighting), there are far safer and kinder methods to fix that problem. Maybe I have a low opinion of people, but I've known so many people who see an experienced trainer use a controversial method in an extreme case, and then they point to that and say, "See? I can do that too!" then wind up abusing their animals.
I feel that trainers (myself included, as someone who has published articles on dealing with potentially dangerous behavioral problems in horses) have an ethical obligation to consider their audience, and how their advice is likely to be misused. Yeah, any advice can and probably will be misused--from clicker training being used to excuse ineffective training and terrible behavior ("Sorry Fluffy bit you, I'm trying to only use positive training methods so I can't tell him not to!" is one I have literally heard) to e-collars being used to shock dogs who honestly don't understand what they're being asked and turning them into fearful basket cases. But I think that's why telling a story about hitting a dog with a shovel should be reserved for more specific audiences who are likely to understand the circumstances.
As I thought about it more, I realized that a huge part of my problem with that particular story is less the specifics of the story (especially rereading his description of the dog in general), but more how and where it was told. I came away from that answer, even on subsequent rereadings, feeling like that story was told as a good example of how to handle fence fighting in general, not how to handle it with an extremely difficult dog. If he'd even thrown in some examples of how to handle it more gently (for lack of a better word) with less extreme dogs, or cautioned about the dangers of hitting a dog with a shovel, or anything, I'd probably have less of a problem with it.
So long story short (too late LOL), I still find that anecdote in that context very distasteful, and I think it was a very bad call for him to post that. However, I also think most people have written something they later regret (and even if the shovel thing wasn't necessary, I'm sure we've all done stupid things with our animals that we later regret...I for one used to make a lot of rough mistakes with horses because I didn't know any better), and I'm not going to change my overall opinion of him or his training because of it.
*specifically, I was thinking about this last night and remembered a really aggressive stallion I used to train, and some unconventional and somewhat risky methods I used to get him to stop attacking me (he'd already put 3 people in the hospital since he'd been owned by my client, and would attack randomly and without provocation--and he was trying to hurt you, not just posturing), so this was truly a life-or-death situation). I don't want to detail what I did for the reasons I describe above, but it wasn't something I'd ever use on a different horse, and was a last-ditch effort after I'd tried more conventional methods and was still being attacked. So I guess it's even a bit hypocritical of me to say that something never
has a place in training, as I'd normally say that the methods I used never should be used. Well, except anger...I'm good saying that anger never has a place in training animals.
edit: by the way, I just wanted to add that I'm really enjoying the civil discussion in this topic. When I first read the OP I was expecting a trainwreck, but the thoughtful posts here have really given me stuff to think about...which is why I post on this board in the first place.