Learn how to play with a gundog puppy to create a strong bond with your young dog without risking an embarrassing game of tug of war in the field

Learn how to play with a gundog puppy to create that strong bond without compromising their behaviour and performance in the field. Gundogs are often family pets too so it is important that they can play with the family. But set a few ground rules. Tug of war is an amusing game with a rope, but an embarassment with a bird.

One of the first commands you will teach your gundog is sit. Basic but absolutely fundamental to all good dog work, it isn’t always as easy as the professionals make out. Learn how to get your gundog to sit with our advice. And if this season is your first with a new dog, make sure all of the good summer practice doesn’t go to waste. Read your gundog’s first shoot day to avoid the potential pitfalls.


I was recently told that I should never allow my young dog to enter into tug-of-war games if I am to have the slightest chance of taking her shooting. I don’t shoot very often and feel there must be some happy balance between the two. Any thoughts?
AT, by email

Some trainers say that if you play correctly with your dog you are teaching her that you are fun to be around and it helps the dog focus on you. You need to be in control of the game always and the dog must have been taught the “give” command. In any game the dog must give up the toy immediately when asked to do so; must never put her teeth on the owner’s arm or pull his clothing; and never grab the toy unless given the command to do so. It is suggested that you reserve a special toy for this game and put it away when you have finished, until you decide to play again, thus ensuring you are always in control.