The Cure for Your Dog’s Winter Blues – CLE Run

Update- CLE Run will be closed at the end of March (2019.)


Looking to get your dog some exercise during these cold winter days? Well, Cleveland finally has a new indoor play option for your dog – CLE Run.

Located in Valley View, CLE Run is an agility training center, but also offers obedience classes and space you can reserve for indoor playtime, walks and agility practice.

CLE.Run image

Hunter and I stopped by recently to check out one of their drop-in agility classes. The cost is $20 for an hour session with an agility trainer who takes you through the basics. (Learn more about agility here: This drop in class is good way to expose your dog to agility, and is a fun activity to do during the cold winter months when it’s challenging to exercise your dog. And if it turns out your dog loves it, you can check out CLE Run’s other classes.

I am glad I took Hunter to try the agility out before signing up for a course, because I found that this type of large, loud facility is not really his thing. He got spooked, I think by the noises from dogs in the main room and from the industrial fans, and pretty much shut down and would not participate in any of the agility activities. The instructor assured me that a lot of dogs get overwhelmed in these large, open spaces, and it would probably just take a few visits to get him comfortable. We are going to go back and try to reserve space for playtime and walks to get him more comfortable.


I have heard from other dogs who have gone and loved it, so it’s definitely worth checking out if you have a high energy dog you want to get out to exercise. If you don’t want to try agility, you can reserve a half hour time ($10) to play in their 117″24 space where you can throw a frisbee or ball for your dog. There’s a three dog limit, but you could bring a doggie friend for playtime too. You can also reserve a time online to walk around the facility, a great  idea for these -2 degree days!

cle run

Check them out at

And, don’t forget to vote in our first ever Dog-Friendly Cleveland Awards. I will be closing the voting in a few days.




Hunter is a Therapy Dog!

I have always thought that Hunter would make a great therapy dog. I have never met a more loving, friendly and laid-back dog. I’ve seen kids push him, kiss him, back him into a corner and he barely reacts. And since being a therapy dog is much more about personality than obedience or training (although they do need to be under control and obedient), it seemed pretty likely to me that this would be something he would excel in.

And now it’s official! Hunter passed his evaluation and observations in May and became a member of the Alliance for Therapy Dogs last month. As part of the process of being accepted as a member, Hunter had to complete an evaluation by an approved tester, do three observations at a nursing home and I had to do a background check. Being accepted into the Alliance for Therapy Dogs mainly means that Hunter now has insurance through them (in the event something would happen at a therapy dog visit). It also means that as a member of this organization we can be informed of therapy dogs opportunities in the area.


It’s important to do research on which therapy dog organization you want to be a part of, as I learned, since some places only work with certain therapy dog organizations. Alliance for Therapy Dogs came highly recommended to me from several different people and so far it seems like there are a lot of opportunities for therapy work as a member of their organization.

Although schools, nursing homes and hospitals are the most common places for therapy dogs to work, I have seen a lot of other interesting opportunities since becoming a member of the local Cleveland group. There was a request for therapy dogs to attend a memorial service (the deceased woman had asked that there be therapy dogs at her funeral) as well as a request for dogs to attend a trade show.

And, for Hunter’s first therapy dog experience he got to go comfort patients waiting to get Lasik (or other eye surgeries) at Clear Choice Laser in Brecksville. He had a blast! He will be back there again next week bringing joy to people as they wait.

From the Life To-Do List: Therapy Dog Training

Do you have a life to-do list (I don’t like the term bucket list, too depressing) for your dog? I have one for Hunter and Roscoe, although most of the items on the list are things that only Hunter will do since as a shy, fearful dog, I know Roscoe would not be comfortable doing some of these things. Hunter has always been an exceptionally friendly and easy-going dog, so I pretty much know he is down for any activity.


As you can see, we’ve completed quite a few of the things on our list, but we still have more to do (follow us on IG @dogsinthecle!) Last week we took a step towards completing item #7 on the list – Therapy Dog training! Hunter went to his first session this past week at Fortunate Fido to find out if he has what it takes to become a therapy dog and I am excited to learn more about it.

What is a Therapy Dog?

Just in case there is any confusion, since people have asked me when I’ve brought it up, a therapy dog is not a service dog. A therapy dog’s role is provide affection and comfort to various members of the public. Unlike service dogs which typically work with one individual who needs emotional and/or health-related assistance, service dogs don’t get any special access places (unless they are working there). Therapy dogs can work in many different places, such as hospitals, schools, nursing homes and libraries. In recent years therapy dogs have been used in crisis situations (visiting schools after mass shootings, for example) and even in airports as a way to relieve the stress of traveling.

Therapy dogs visiting Parkland after students went back to class. Photo courtesy of Reddit.
Therapy dogs visiting Parkland after students went back to class. Photo courtesy of Reddit.

As someone who works a standard 8-5 Monday through Friday work schedule, I was concerned that would be less opportunities for people who can only volunteer on weekends. The instructor assured me that many organizations need therapy dogs on Saturdays and Sundays and many nursing homes are flexible about when you can visit once you establish a relationship with them.

How does my dog become a therapy dog?

In order to become a therapy dog and work in various locations, you must register your dog with one of the national Therapy Dog organizations. Alliance of Therapy Dogs, PetPartners, Bright and Beautiful Therapy Dogs and Therapy Dog International, are just a few of the therapy dog organizations you can register your dog with so that he or she will be accepted into various programs at schools or other institutions. There are fees involved, since part of the reason you join one of these organizations is to get liability coverage in case something happens when your dog is at an assignment.

If you are interested in getting your dog registered with one of these places you will want to look into training for your dog since there is a handling test required for each organization. A few local Cleveland trainers do therapy dog training, including Fortunate Fido, Alpha Dog Pet Center, Total Canine and The Dog Class. Classes are often not regularly offered, so it’s a good idea to reach out a trainer near you to see if it’s something they are offering currently or could offer in the future.

The training will vary depending on which organization you plan to get certified with, some may require Canine Good Citizen certificate first, while others may not. The Fortunate Fido training is connected with Alliance of Therapy Dogs and does not require CGC certification first.

I am still learning more about registering with this organization and what training is involved, so I will share more details as I learn them. I am going into it more as a learning experience and deciding whether this is something that would be a good fit for Hunter, and for myself, since it will require a lot of time from me. But as a true believer in the power of dogs to reduce stress and improve your overall state of mind, I am really excited about the opportunity to spread joy though Hunter’s undying love of people!



Dogs Who Workout

Did you know Cleveland has a dog-friendly bootcamp? I’ve mentioned it before, but I still think it’s a relatively hidden gem for Cleveland dog owners. Thank Dog NEO bootcamp is such a fun way to get some exercise for yourself without leaving your dog at home. And the workouts are done in a park, so it’s a great way to spend in an evening outdoors doing something good for yourself and your dog!

Hunter, Roscoe and I just went back to bootcamp last night. We’ve been doing it for three summers now and we love it! Since we don’t get to it as regularly as I’d like (due to its distance from me and it being too hot lately for Hunter to exercise outdoors) it’ll take a bit of time to get Hunter back in the swing of things. He was a little uncooperative last night. The great thing about the bootcamp though, is that it’s all about doing things at your own pace. I bring Roscoe too and he handles it well. Since there is no interaction between the dogs in the bootcamp it can also be good for fearful dogs as well. The owner of the camp, Heidi, really lets you handle your dog the best way you see fit, so there’s no pressure to push your dog to do things he or she may not be comfortable with.

I’ve seen all sorts of dogs do it over the years – unfocused ones like Hunter, well-trained ones and hyper, somewhat aggressive dogs. Since the bootcamp does not allow dog socialization and instead encourages you to focus on keeping your dog under control, it is good for all types of dogs. Heidi meets with everyone who signs up before the first class to assess the dogs and go over what will be expected of your dog in the class.

Roscoe getting his workout on

We only do the bootcamp during the summer months, but it’s held all year long. During the summer, the camp is held on Wednesdays at Chagrin River Park in Willoughby, Thursdays at South Chagrin Reservation and Saturday and Sunday mornings at Beachwood Park. Although it’s a far drive for me, it’s totally worth it because it gives me a chance to check out some parks we don’t regularly go to. Since going to this bootcamp, South Chagrin has become one of my favorite parks in Cleveland. You can find more information on pricing and locations here:

Since I started going to the camp I have been hoping for a west side location and one finally opened this month! Unfortunately it’s a little too far west for me, in Lorain County. Classes will be held in Elryia at Black River Reservation on Thursdays at 6 and Grace Sprenger Memorial Park in Amherst on Saturdays at 9 am. Check out Thank Dog Fit for more information here:

To make it even easier for you to try out, there is a Groupon right now for the east side bootcamp. You can get five classes for $41 or 10 classes for $62. A great deal!

Read more about my experience with the camp here:

5 Rainy Day Activities

I recently attended a Mind Games class at Fortunate Fido with Hunter to learn some new activities we could do at home. Although some of the activities were things that we already do, I learned a few fun new things to do at home on rainy days like today where we’ll be stuck inside for most of the day.

Since we are approaching the time of year where we’ll be stuck inside a lot on rainy days I thought I would share some of the activities that I learned as well as some other activities that are good ways to keep your dog busy indoors.

Muffin Tins

For this game you place treats in muffin holes and cover a few with tennis balls. You can make it easy to start them out and put the treats in the holes that don’t have tennis balls covering them. This allows them to build confidence as they get the treats out of the holes. You can gradually make it harder for your dog by adding balls to cover the treats so that they have to move the balls to get to the treat.

“Go Around”

This activity teaches your dog to go around an object on cue. You can use cones or some other small object that they would have to walk around to get by. Set up the cone and lead your dog around the cone. Repeat this a few times, adding treats if you need to, and eventually add a verbal cue and move further away from the cone so that they are moving around it on their own. This is a great way to have your dog get some exercise and burn off energy in a small space.

Musical Sit and Downs

You’ll need someone else at home to play this activity. This is a great activity if you need to practice loose leash walking and get your dog to focus on you more on walks. Turn on some music and begin with your dog heeling. When the music stops, ask your dog for a sit or down. If you have more dogs at home to play this with, it can be a competition to see who can get in sit or down faster.

At-Home Agility

There are a lot of agility activities you can do at home by using furniture and other objects you have around the house. A few chairs and a blanket can create a tunnel, a broomstick on top of paint cans or buckets can make a pole to jump over, an old (small) ladder laid on the ground can be used to have your dog run through (just make sure all these things are secure and won’t fall over or hurt your dog). The Bark has some good ideas on how to create an indoor agility course for your dog:

Snuffle Mats

I really want to make one of these mats. This seems like a great activity to keep a dog busy, especially one like my dog Hunter who is very motivated by food. Here is a good link to instructions on how to make this mat:

What activities do you and your dog do on rainy days?

Fun Dog Classes

Although we have been very, very lucky this winter as far as the temperatures go, I think we are all ready for it to be over. What makes this time of year especially hard for me, is trying to come up with activities for my dogs when Hunter is sick of all of his toys and we’ve already played all the same games a hundred times . I am ready to get out of hibernation mode!

If you are running out of ideas for things to do with your dog, it may be time to check out what classes local training places offer. From nose work to agility to training your dog to be a Canine Good Citizen, there are many options to get your dog some activity this winter.

Nose Work

Roscoe and I did a nose work class last year and really enjoyed it. Nose work is a great activity for any dog, even fearful and shy ones like Roscoe. There are many different ways to do nose work and several Cleveland area trainers offer group classes to do with your dog.

On March 19, All Dogs Go to Kevin in Stow will be holding a nose work class. The cost for the class is $120 and it lasts five weeks. There are still spaces available: (scroll down to see more info on the nose work classes).

Roscoe doing nose work!


Canine Affair in Chesterland also offers nose work classes. I don’t see any scheduled now, but check our their site for more info:


Fortunate Fido will holding a Mind Games class starting on March 4. The fun class will focus on giving you ideas for games you can play at home with your dog, including the muffin tin game, nesting cups, musical sits/downs, and many more ideas. Find out more here:

Fortunate Fido is also offering a Toy Making class, for humans only, where you can make Flirt Poles and Snuffle Mats. I’d heard of a flirt pole, but not a snuffle mat… It looks pretty cool though:

Find out more about that class here:

Canine Good Citizen

Another fun option to keep your dog busy this winter is to begin Canine Go1346203918od Citizen training with your dog. Several area trainers offer classes to get your dog his Canine Good Citizen certification, which is the first step in becoming a therapy dog, but also important training for any dog. Hunter and I did this a few years ago and he unfortunately, didn’t pass. In order for a dog to pass the training he has to pass 10 different tests, things such as remaining calm around another dog, remaining calm when you leave the room for an extended amount of time and loose leash walking. Hunter did not pass the loose leash walking and the remaining calm when I left the room tests, not surprisingly. This was three years ago though, so I think we may try again this year.


Check out these local trainers for CGC classes and certification:

The Dog Class:
North Coast Dogs:
Elite K911:
Anything’s Possible:

Any other fun classes I am missing? Let me know in the hcomments!


Doing Work…Nose Work

As you know, I’m always looking for new things for Hunter and Roscoe to do. So when I came across a nose work class recently I knew we had to try it. Nose work helps to develop your dog’s scenting skills through fun and games.

I originally signed Hunter up to do the six-week class offered by Liz Wyant, a trainer with Pit Bull Zen, but after hearing from Liz how great the class is for fearful dogs decided to have Roscoe do the class instead. Since nose work does not involve interaction with other dogs or people, it’s great for dogs who don’t do well in traditional training settings, mainly fearful or very reactive dogs. Nose work utilizes skills that most dogs already have, so it’s a great confidence builder and bonding exercise for dogs and owners.

Getting in the nose work zone. Roscoe at his first class.
Getting in the nose work zone. Roscoe at his first class.

I have not been able to find much to engage Roscoe so I was so excited to find an activity he might really excel in. Nose work classes start off by having dogs find treats (or sometimes toys, for this class it was treats) hidden in boxes, progressively adding more each week and making it harder to find. More advanced classes sometimes involve having dogs find target odors, where you give the dog the scent of something and then have them find it.

We started out very slow with Roscoe to make it fun and build his confidence. The first week he followed shyly behind me, letting me lead the way. Initially, he was scared if the treat was too close to the edge of the box or if it slightly moved when he got close to it. But by last week’s class, he was leading me and finding treats that were hidden in hard to reach places.

It was amazing to see how much he improved week to week. I am so glad we did this class since it gave us a chance to bond and for him to do an activity that he could be successful in to build his confidence. I’ve seen a lot of progress in Roscoe lately, being less fearful of people and experiences and I think some of that can be attributed to this class.

We’ve also been working on it at home too, which has been great to give him some activity during the week. Although it’s an easy activity to do at home, I think it’s also a good experience to get a fearful dog out and doing it in a class environment with new smells and surroundings. I think it also helped Roscoe being away from his pushy brother Hunter, who hasn’t realized yet that he’s not the only dog in the house.

I am so proud of my little guy!

To learn more about nose work, this site has a lot of good information:

And this site has a lot of good info for doing nose work at home:

Liz said she will most likely be offering another class, possibly in May, so I will keep you posted. Fortunate Fido in Columbia Station also offers nose work classes as well, although they have none scheduled at the moment.

Have you tried nose work with your dog? What did you think?

Trick of the Month: Roll Out the Carpet

It’s time for the Trick of the Month from Robin at Fortunate Fido!

This is a trick that both dogs and people think is super-fun.

Roll out the Carpet!

Place a line of treats down the center of a yoga mat or throw rug or thick towel.  Roll it up and ask your dog to “roll it.”  Be sure there are enough treats at first that he sees them right away.  That way, he is pushing the rug with his nose.  When he has unrolled the whole thing and eaten all the treats, tell him “good boy” and give him another treat.  Repeat this procedure, gradually putting the treats further apart until there is just one treat at the end.  Be sure to continue to praise and treat at the end from your hand as well.

If he starts pawing instead of pushing with his nose, just prevent the mat from unrolling, and only let him be successful if he pushes with his nose.  Put the treats closer together on the next attempt.

When this trick is perfected, you can ask for a sit or a down on the unrolled mat to create a chained behavior.

Have fun with this one.  My dogs LOVE doing this trick.  I hope yours do, too.

Robin Murray is a Certified Trick Dog Instructor. She enjoys teaching tricks classes and competing with her three dogs in agility, rally, obedience and nosework. Check out Fortunate Fido at

Trick of the Month: Teach Your Dog Names

This month’s Trick of the Month from Robin at Fortunate Fido is a great winter activity to do with the whole family when you are stuck indoors.

Read on to teach your dog a new trick!

Here is a super fun trick to help you beat the winter blahs.  Teach your dog his family members’ names!

This is a fun activity that you can do on family game, TV, or movie night.

Position family members apart from each other, each with a pocket full of yummy treats.  A circle would be great if you have the space.  One person has the dog with them to start, and then says “go see Bobby!”  Bobby then (AFTER the original cue is given—this part is important), calls the dog to him and gives him a yummy treat.

What's your name again?
What’s your name again?

Then Bobby says “Go see Suzie!”  Suzy then calls the dog to her and gives him a yummy treat.  Repeat with each family member multiple times.  This will take a while to click, but dogs are good at anticipating what will come next, so after a while, he will connect that “Go see Bobby” means that Bobby has a treat for him.  If he goes to the wrong person, that person will simply ignore him and not dispense a treat.

This game takes time, but it is loads of fun after the dog catches on.  When he is really good at it, you can have family members farther away or in other rooms.

Have fun beating cabin fever and spending time with your dog!

Robin Murray is a Certified Trick Dog Instructor. She enjoys teaching tricks classes and competing with her three dogs in agility, rally, obedience and nosework. Check out Fortunate Fido at

10 Indoor Dog Activities

As a dog owner you have to get pretty creative during the winter months to keep your dog entertained. Although my dog wouldn’t mind being outside for hours at a time whether it’s four degrees or four feet of snow, I really don’t want to be.  Over the last few years I’ve tried a lot of different activities to keep my dog entertained on the days we’re stuck inside.

Here are 10 ideas for things to do when your stuck inside:

1. Food Dispensing Toys – Also known as “Enrichment Feeders,” these toys are a great way to provide some activity for your dog without giving him a lot of treats. I use a few different ones for Hunter and Roscoe and put their breakfast and dinner in there. Hunter has an Omega Ball, Kongs and a Kibble Nibble Meal Dispensing Dog Toy, and both Hunter and Roscoe have a Busy Buddy Twist and Treat. I like to switch them up to keep him challenged.

I make it a little easier for Roscoe, since he doesn’t have a lot of teeth and isn’t really into toys. But he still enjoys it.

2. Agility – The fun thing about agility is that you can do many of the activities at home. An easy agility activity to try at home is to put a stick up on cans and have your dog jump over it. You’ll want to start with the stick very low and slowly raise it as your dog gets more comfortable. For more ideas on building your own agility course, check out

3. Shaping  – Shaping is a great mental activity for your dog. In this activity, you break down a behavior into tiny increments, reinforcing the behavior at each step until you’ve achieved the full behavior. Local trainer Kevin Duggan has a good video about how to teach your dog shaping:

4. Hide and Seek – Just like regular hide and seek, this game involves having your dog find you or other family members, as you hide in another room. You can bring treats or just try to get your dog to find you in a different room without a reward.

Hunter thinks he is really good at Hide and Seek.

5. Run the stairs – I often wish that I had stairs because I would definitely take advantage of them to wear out Hunter. You can add in a game of fetch or just have your dog chase you up and down the steps.

6. Nose work – This activity involves hiding things in boxes or other objects and having your dog find them. Something Wagging did a good post about doing nose work at home with your dog:

7. Name Game – A new game we’ve added into our trick time is learning the names of toys. It is amazing how many words a dog can learn. We’ve been working on identifying toys, and so far he has learned ball. If you get really into this, you can teach your dog to fetch you things, like a beer from the fridge, perhaps. Life goals.

8. Tricks – I work on trick training with Hunter for at least 10 minutes pretty much every day. I’ve taught him roll over and bow in recent months. He picked up roll over very fast, but take a bow has proven to be more difficult. We are still working on perfecting that one and will soon add in another trick. Check out my Trick of the Month series for instructions on a new trick each month:

9. Grooming – If your dog is anything like mine, your grooming session will also involve a workout since you’ll have to chase him down once you pull out the brush. Grooming is a great way to work on teaching your dog calm behavior, and it’s also a great way to bond with your dog and give him some affection.

10. Photo shoot – Of course I would suggest this, I love taking photos of my dogs. If your dog likes to dress up, or if you’ve taught him to balance things on his nose in one of your shaping sessions, for example, you can set up a variety of fun photo opportunities. I know from my marathon photo session with Hunter and Roscoe around Christmas they were pretty worn out from all of the modeling.

Hunter is basically a professional dog model at this point.

How do you keep your dog entertained indoors?