Games people play

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The Independent Online
Richard Meade, 58, triple Olympic three-day event gold medallist

Dogs like to play games, and if it's all done in a light-hearted way, then they thoroughly enjoy it. Our terrier puppy's game is to come and grab your hand, then she wants to be chased until she rolls over and lets you dribble her like a football. It's great fun.

We have a lurcher and a labrador, and their games are very different. Lurchers love chasing things, which is what they're bred to do. Ours is perfectly normal in daylight, but at night she behaves like a mad thing, and given the opportunity she'll rush out of the door in full cry. They're poachers' dogs, used for working after dark.

The last one we had was a gentle dog, but if any of the family were having a water-fight or something, he'd get quite steamed up about it, and you had to be very careful that he didn't try to join in and bite somebody, which he'd then very much regret; and which we'd rather regret too.

Labradors are wonderful with children, and do not mind being clambered over, but I'm careful not to play silly games with ours because she's got a serious job of work to do. If you have gun-dogs, it's important to keep that side of things separate, and do nothing that in any way conflicts with their job as retrievers.

If you're consistent in your approach to dogs, then they respond tremendously well and will understand the difference between work and play. The analogy between children and animals is useful: both want to feel confident and secure and to have a structure to their lives, so it's important not to make fools of them, or do silly things that undermine their roles. But they must have fun.

Stray and unwanted dogs and cats may be handed in at the Dogs' Home Battersea at any time (0171-738-8759).

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