I've been wanting to write this for some time now and i hope that some of you will find it at leat mildly interesting.
I trained my first dog Amish in a way almost identical to what Paul described in the Amish thread yesterday--no FF and no collar. Katie knew hold as a command similar to sit. Here and back were similarly understood as were over commands and I had a retriever to be very proud of--steady and reliable with a good mouth. I just sorta fell into this style of training, first dog and all, but it worked well for me and this dog. We didn't play the games, but she received praise from all my friends who did and she compared favorably to their titled dogs. She picked up about 2000 birds for me in 6 hunting seasons before I unexpectedly lost her to disease. I will say that she had a very gentle temperment, great blood lines (Storm's Riptide Star aka Rascal amoung others), and an unbelievable drive to retrieve--that's why I think this worked. Never had a no-go in a hunting situation, and only had a few in training which were all my fault (too much pressure and a confused dog).
Along comes dog number two, from similar blood lines. I'm, of course, going to train her the same way as it worked well for me before. Well, Zoe was a different dog from the outset. More energy and much more defiant in the sense that she would test every boundary and get away with whatever she could. One example, bumpers belonged to her and you were not going to "nice" them back from her--fun little "here pup"s and running playfully away seemed to draw a laughing look from her. So maybe this was all my fault and I just didn't do as good a job with this dog, but things weren't going nearly as well as with dog # 1 and by the time she was 6 months of age I decided that this was going to be a FF/CC dog. I'm a dog training nerd of sorts (read a lot) and already knew a lot about these training methods. With a little help from my training buddies, I brought Zoe through FF and CC. FF changed this dog's attitude like nothing I have ever seen. It firmly established my alpha role, gave her a "Navy seal-serious" attitude about retrieving, and gave me a way to correct outright defiance (she doesn't want Daddy reaching for that ear anymore and "fetch" sends her diving for the nearest bumper). She's now 9 months old and probably ahead of where Katie was at this point in her training. I can't wait for hunting season 2007-8.
The point of my post is to say that I once thought that FF was a good training technique that just wasn't for me. And maybe a better trainer could happily train any dog without it if that was their preference. I didn't FF my first dog because I didn't have to--she was a "natural" and just that good--and maybe she'd have been better with FF; I'll never know. What I do know is that FF changed Zoe's life in a positive way and I am a real believer. It's been fun adapting training styles to a different dog and, while I still miss Katie, Zoe is becoming the next dog more and more and my confidence is growing that she will be another great one. Thanks, FF.