Interesting articles. I think a fair reading of them shows the authors' biases against shock collars. However, as someone who uses a SC, I agree that if it is used by someone who doesn't empathize with the dog, or doesn't understand how to train a dog, or doesn't understand how the collar works, it can easily be a cruel and inappropriate tool.
As for the dog's reaction: I take Liesl for off-leash walks in our neighborhood morning and evening. People constantly compliment us on how gorgeous she is, and how well-behaved she is. She prances, head up, tail wagging, and not at all depressed in anticipation of being shocked. She is not perfect, by far--but she heels reasonably well and will ignore yapping ankle biters if I I say "leave it". The shock collar was instrumental in getting her there.
To me, the SC is simply a long, non-tangling leash and choke chain--nothing more, nothing less. I do not put it on a setting that will hurt her, but one that will break her focus/prey drive/distraction when I need for that to happen. And I only use it (push the "nick" button) when that needs to happen. We complete most of our walks without me having to push the button more than one or two times. She always gets a verbal command and an opportunity to obey it before I break her focus on something else by nicking her.
As for the poor dog in that video who was cowed under by abuse of a SC, nothing could be farther from that situation at our house. Liesl jumps and dances like a 5 month old pup when I pull out the collar to take a walk. I truly believe she does not associate the collar with the shock stimulus, and I know that she doesn't have a bad association with it, based on her attempts to get her head into it as quickly as possible for a walk.
My greatest unease with our SC use is the fact that because of her insane prey drive I need to turn it up and use the continuous stim, not the nick, to break her attention from squirrels. It is amazing how her focus on a squirrel will make her oblivious to a stim level that would otherwise bring a yelp. If I can manage to see the squirrel before she gets into stalking mode, I can keep her from chasing it using only a verbal "leave it", even from as close as 10 or 15 feet.
To me, there is clearly a role for using a SC to enhance communication with the dog. There is unfortunately just as clearly the opportunity for misuse of them by people who do not use them properly, just as there is for choke chains, prong collars, etc.
Liesl, b. 1/1/11