The Flip Side

Mike Stewart, Wildrose International

Many may recall, years past for sure, 45 record singles.  One side of the disk offered the artist’s single hit with another selection existing on the flip side.  These singles had a large hole in the center to allow multiple records to be stacked, played in order, then flipped to the other side for continued play.  Thus, the flip side. This term has become relevant when naming a useful Wildrose training solution.

Our training feature this issue is The Flip Side, a great tool for developing a gundog’s lining and handling abilities while encouraging the dog to think not just react as well as respond to handling influences. Ultimately, this is the desirable outcome of our gundog training efforts:  Develop gamefinding abilities and promote an interdependent relationship between dog and handler… teamwork.


The Flip Side

I have had excellent results with the flip side exercise for seasoned dogs to improve memory, avoid the suction of old falls and enhance handling as well as lining abilities.  It is a useful tool to influence a dog that occasionally becomes opinionated in the field thinking that he knows in this situation what is best at the expense of ignoring the handler’s directions. The Flip Side may help convince the “bold one” that they may not be the smartest guy in the room.

The Set Up

We begin with a double. Select two points of cover in a field, woodlands or shallows at water’s edge.  Place a single bumper, scented preferably, at each point as a memory. The placement should be an inversion. Bumpers are placed as “seens” on the opposite side from the direction the dog will approach (back side of the point). Once placed, establish a circle memory by walking around the area until the pre-placed bumpers are at a 45-degree angle or a V configuration.  The dog will be lined from the opposite side of the bumper’s placement, thus an inversion. Line for each bumper, oldest placement to the newest.  Distance, obstacles, and types of cover are completely up to the handler and the dog’s abilities.

dog on retrieve

With both “birds” recovered, it’s time for The Flip Side.  Place the bumpers behind your position as a ladder.  The dog once again observes.  Now, circle the entire pattern area stopping center and beyond the first two bumpers placed.  Your position is now behind the inversion previously set and centered between the “old falls.”  Think of kicking a field goal.  The target is the distant ladders.

dog on retrieve 2

With The Flip Side set, line for the first memory through the two old falls and cover.  As the dog departs for the recovery, back up a few yards.  Be prepared to handle if your dog succumbs to the temptation of the old falls (suction).  If successful on the first, we have extended the line for the second and perhaps have added another obstacle, obstruction or cover feature.  There is nothing to say that you could have placed three or four bumpers in your ladder.  With each, as you back away, you effectively narrow the slot between the previously placed bumpers in round one increasing the challenge with each repetition.

dog on retrieve 3

The Flip Side can be modified in other ways such as distances, types of cover, adding triples for the first retrieves or even distractions. The exercise is an excellent training solution for both waterfowl and upland retrievers alike.

Be sure to review our complementary new upland gundog training series at

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