The term “Force Fetch” does not mean dogs are forced to retrieve. The process is one through which dogs are taught how to handle the things they retrieve consistently, ethically and without damage. It is also the basis on which the advanced handling skills are carried out. Taking a dog through this process means beginning with very sound basic obedience, then teaching the dog to hold a training bumper first while sitting, and then while carrying out the basic obedience exercises of heel and sit. After a dog clearly understands the expectation of holding onto the bumper and doing other things while carrying the bumper, they are taught to reach for it when asked. This begins close to their mouth, eventually moving to close to the ground and finally on the ground unattached to your hand. Most retrievers love to retrieve, but they do it because it is fun and they are enjoying the play. Dogs used in hunting or competition or advanced obedience classes must retrieve what they are asked to retrieve, and bring it to you regardless of the difficulty in carrying it or the terrain through which they must carry it. Setting something down and coming back without it is not a very desired behavior for a retriever.
A well-executed force fetch lays an excellent foundation for the skills of handling on land and water and running blind retrieves. It is worth carrying out mindfully, appropriate for your individual dogs’ ability to grasp what is being asked, and as place to teach your dog to do all kinds of really useful and fun things!