Agree and disagree....I think . Let me make sure I understand what you're saying; that any kind of FB/FF is subjective to the dog at hand ?
No, what I was trying to say is that I don't always think that FF is the real answer to every problem where it seems to fit. For instance, if someone has a three year old dog that has never really trained and they decide they want to get the dog out hunting. They sent him off to puppy school 2.5 years prior, so it knows sit, stay, and here. With the new found desire to hunt the dog they get out in the field and throw some retrieves. Right off the bat the dog won't always return with the dummy, or won't deliver to hand. "What do I do?" they ask. Answer comes back to Force Fetch the dog. Sure, they could probably get away with it. It will be painful for the dog and the trainer, but they can get through it. This is the kind of scenario where I hate to see that. The problem is that the owner expects the dog to go from being Air Bud in the backyard with a tennis ball to Drake the DU dog, and they think the FF will bring it to them. What I'm saying is that person should at least try to start over with the dog. Go back through basic OB, then on to OB enforced with light pressure. It is the owners fault that THEY didn't do what they should have done in the formative years of the dog. But they don't want to admit that and instead are looking for a quick fix. It wil work if done properly, I just think it is wrong for the dog to suffer because of the lazyness of the owner. Thus my analogy of the parent that didn't spend enough time with their kid.
My opinion is that the Force Fetch is the sturdy frame that one erects on top of a solid foundation (obedience). But I also believe that the amateur trainer who can spend TONS of time with his dog can have a huge advantage over a professional trainer. Retrieving breeds are so intelligent and eager to please that one could get just about the same performance without force fetching, if the bond between the dog and handler is strong enough. BUT, that leaves a lot up to the dog, and I choose not to do that. I get on the OB early so that by the time the dog is 6 months old I can introduce the e-collar, then move straight into the FF. After that, a whole new world opens up to the trainer and the things that can be accomplished are truly remarkable.
As for the FF being subjective to the dog at hand, in my opinion it is. Just like gsphunter said, it depends on the age of the dog, the level of prior training, and the dogs tolerance to pain (putting it bluntly). You'll take a different approach to force fetching a 7 month old dog than you would a 3 year old. The second factor that is often magnified by age is the level of training the dog has had. In other words, has it been taught how to learn. If not, the FF is one hell of a way to try and beat that concept into a dogs head. The level of pain they can handle does vary from dog to dog, and it is up to the trainer to determine the proper level. If you have a dog with a very low tolerance and you go straight to the heavy stuff, you could very well ruin the dog. The inverse would be using very light pressure on a dog with a high tolerance. This could result in an ineffective Force Fetch experience. This happened to me my first time around. My dog was smart and could handle pain. I taught him HOLD, FETCH, and GIVE, but I didn't convey how serious I was. So in the field, he didn't have the 'enthusiasm' of other dogs. I soon figured out that I had just 'Fetched' the dog and had not FORCE Fetched the dog. Back to the table we went, I bit my lip, and the second time around I showed him I was serious. He didn't bleed and his ears weren't tender, but I found that certain level of discomfort I need to apply and I applied it, no questions asked. When he came down off the table after that second round, he was spinning gravel and falling all over himself to get whatever I told him to fetch. I had to put a bolt in that dog's collar and press his ear down on it. That might be way too much for some dogs, but for him it was just right. I also follow up the 'traditional' Force Fetch with a reinforcement using the e-collar (after collar conditioning). This drives the point home in a big way and makes it crystal clear what is going on.
So I don't consider myself a hard-ass, and I don't condone the Force Fetch under every circumstance. I believe in doing it right and using the Force Fetch as a step in training versus an event that is dictated by circumstances.
I hope that made sense!