But there is an exception to every rule and this is it. Keep in mind this is remedial work. If I'd bothered to teach a nice, tight return on retrieves in the first place, I wouldn't be trying to fix it now. Another lesson learned.
In this video, I'm using a small PVC hurdle to work that nice tight turn after the pick up. Phoenix has to jump the hurdle going out to get his glove AND returning to me with the glove. It prevents those big loopy herding dog turns after he picks up the glove, which in turn should make it easier for him to get a nice front.
I initially shaped the over and back behavior by sending him after pieces of cheese. He likes to jump and it didn't take long for him to figure out if he jumped back over the hurdle to me he got another piece of cheese. If he went around it, no cheese. I didn't give him any command at that point. It's like the retrieve over the high but at that point it was NOT a retrieve - it was a jumping and cheese-eating game.
We'd played this over and back game with a full-sized high jump when he was young so that probably helped him pick up on this version so quickly. You could use full-sized jumps if you wanted to but the little hurdles are handier and can be made out of PVC scraps. There's no magic size, just whatever fits your dog.
I'll keep the hurdles out there for a long time as we work gloves in training. Right now, they're about 2 feet from the glove. As Phoenix shows me he is starting to turn tightly after the pick up, I plan to gradually move the hurdles further and further away from the gloves (closer to me), so their presence isn't such a factor in determining the turn.
Like anything else you re-train, it may take a while for the desired behavior to transfer to the ring. In the meantime, this allows us to practice perfect tight turns every time.
Thanks Michele, for making me a hurdle for each glove! And BIG thanks to Joanne Brettschneider for the initial idea!