Games people play

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The Independent Online
Dr Roger Mugford, 51, animal psychologist.

The best games are animal games. I invented one called Kong Dong played with lacrosse rackets, two people and a dog. The players toss the ball, or "Kong", to one another using the sticks and the poor dog has to trudge backwards and forwards trying to retrieve its favourite toy.

It's not really very kind is it? But dogs do like it, and humans, being what they are, will keep dropping the ball, and the dog gets possession. Not many people in England have lacrosse sticks, but I'm told there's a loyal following in Canada. I've been trying to play a new American game: My Dog Can Do That! A board game you can play with your dog. It's full of all these dog-tricks, like "Prayers for Poppa" where the dog lies down and puts his paws together, or "Circus Dog", where he has to balance a treat on his snout.

I've decided that it's too difficult. American dogs are probably much better behaved than their British counterparts, who are all wild and inventive, refusing to sit on little carpets for exactly five minutes or roll over and waggle their feet. British dogs do this sort of thing when they want to, and not in order to participate in a game.

The other day, my setter was Rudolf the red-nosed Irish Reindog, with antlers on his head, towing a Christmas sleigh at a disabled children's party where I was Santa. He was absolutely brilliant, but there's no way he could do any of those stupid American tricks. Dogs are better at hide and seek, and printing their pawmarks on white linen jackets when you're just about to go out to dinner. So I don't want this board-game, and if any reader would like it, just call me and they can have it.

Roger Mugford is the head of the Animal Behaviour Centre in Chertsey, Surrey, where he sees all kinds of animals with behavioural problems - mainly dogs. His books `Dog Training the Mugford Way' and `Dr Roger Mugford's Casebook' have saved the sanity of many dog owners. The ABC can be contacted at 01932-566696