I started to write this to answer a question for someone. I decided that i was being very long winded as usual, so I started a new thread.
By now most of the guys on here should have read at least a few threads about Force Fetch. This is the only true way to Force your dog to pick up anything. Until you do this, the dog is only doing what HE wants to and what his breeding tells HIM to do. Yeah, he is happy that you are happy, but don't be fooled, he is pleasing himself. When something comes his way (like a goose flapping) that he doesn't want to deal with, or is to intemidating, he simply won't perform. Then we stand on the shore yelling and screaming words to him like "FETCH" that he truely doesn't comprehend.
In order to "FORCE" your dog to pick up a mean goose 50yds away, you have to teach him to do it. First you start with forcing him to hold something in his mouth, and then move onto forcing him to "FETCH" something. It is a process that is part of the retriever training, just like sit or stay.
Most people don't want to go through the Force Fetch training, because much like the dogs first flapping goose, it is a little intimidating. At least I know it was for me. Or most people are just to lazy, because it does take a lot of work.
Force Fetch is the only real way to make your dog fetch something even when he doesn't want to.
Water to cold? "FETCH"
Bird to mean? "FETCH"
Don't feel like it? "FETCH"
You will be teaching your dog that things don't happen on his terms anymore, they happen on your terms.
FF is the basis of absolutely everything in training past sit and stay. If you have any plans on your dog being anything more than a dog that only retrieves for his own pleasure, then FF is a must.
Blind retrieves all start on the basis of Forcing your dog to fetch something, even if he doesn't see it.
I am not a pro, and am only in the process of training my first dog. But i do understand the importance of Force Fetch. So if any of you have problems with your dog picking up birds, the first question anyone is going to ask is, "is your dog FF".
.....you've got to ask yourself a question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya, punk?
Die' en ain't much of a livin' son.