So what would you do? FF v Non FF
This is a FF v Non FF question of a sort, but I hope a bit more reflective than some.
First I like to get some agreed definitions as to just what is being discussed, and by the way drop the US versus UK tabs, they don't really mean anything and only serve to irritate and annoy.
So OK lets define Force Fetch; not what it supposedly achieves, but what it actually is. Sequential, structured training? No, can't be that, structure isn't exclusive. Use of the e-collar? No, can't be that you can Force Fetch without it via ear pinch and so on. I submit that the use of the phrase is often pretty sloppy and includes in the assumed definition both structured training and the collar which is sort of fair enough, but often assumes the structural elements are exclusive.
So, by interpolation non FF training omits the collar and the ear pinch thing, and may or may not contain a fixed structure. Like many such, I have a structure very clearly in my mind but vary it's application, intensity and timing to suit the particular dog's needs. I rely on a lot of positive reinforcement, acute observation of the dog (as best as I can manage anyway, still a work in progress;)) and virtually no punishment. I don't believe dogs deliberately ignore commands that have been properly taught and trained.
The results from the two systems are just exactly what you'd expect; variable, with the most competent trainers producing the best results. Unlike some I don't see the two in competition with each other; were I to train for US Trials I'd use the collar because that's what you need to punish infractions of line at distance, but I'd still teach the basics with clicker because I know it works more quickly and with greater precision than anything else.
Were you guys to train for our Field Trials you'd have to amend your training in several ways not all ofwhich are best addressed by a collar.
As a final shot I'd like to propose a thought experiment to my “FF” chums in N America. Imagine you live in a country where the collar is unlawful, but there is a wealth of non FF knowledge that's growing every day. The raw material (ie the dogs) available is of high quality and well suited to your needs. Additionally you've had some bloody cruel luck with your dogs this season and need to have three Pups (and maybe even a trained dog as a gap filler) in the kennels PDQ. That's right where I am.
What would you do?