“Our motto is, ‘Burn energy, get fit and have fun,’” says Rita Tretter. The words could be the slogan of any gym or fitness class, but Tretter’s clients are dogs and their families who love them.
Growing up, Tretter wasn’t allowed a dog of her own until she was a teenager, but starting at age 11, she volunteered with the Humane Society, helping to find homes for as many pups as possible.
Tretter’s interest in dogs eventually became a full-fledged career. At 18, she began working at a veterinary clinic. Over the years, she also amassed her own dog pack. Watching her beloved dogs age is what got Tretter focused on preventive canine care. She is the founder and co-owner of Canine Revival, LLC in White Bear Lake, which offers dog fitness and conditioning, and massage. Tretter is a certified canine sports massage therapist and certified canine fitness trainer.
Tretter’s dog Glory was an agility dog in her younger years. “They do jumps, they run through tunnels, they jump tires. The problem is there are a lot of fast stops and big turns and it really torques the dog,” says Tretter. She returned to school to become certified in canine fitness after watching Glory suffer the effects of aging. “As she aged, her rear became weak, which is really common in senior dogs, and I told myself I’d never let that happen to any other dog,” she says.
Along with the many senior dogs at Canine Revival, Tretter also works with current canine athletes, working dogs and couch potatoes alike. The programs can be flexible to work toward a specific result, or part of a fitness course for strength-building.
“Sometimes we use [the training] with dogs who don’t have very good behavior at day care,” says Tretter. “I work them out first and usually I can wear them out pretty good in 20 or 30 minutes.” Good behavior is a great side effect of burning off all that excess energy, but the benefits don’t end there.
“Training works on many different parts of the dog. There’s balance, flexibility, strength training—all that stuff you would go to a gym to do,” says Tretter. But there’s one more key component that beefs up the brain as well. “We do a lot of things where dogs need to use their minds—and they love it,” says Tretter.
With the weather due to warm, it’s time to leash up and hit the pavement with these easy tips and tricks from Tretter for canine health and fitness.
Minimize kennel-time as much as possible. Many people who work long days have to crate their dog. Find somebody who can take them out for a quick walk midday. If you have to keep them kenneled, try letting them stay out at night. Take them to doggy day care a few times a week. “As much as you can lessen the crating time, the better, because it does cause early arthritis,” says Tretter.
Take your dog on walks. After a winter cooped up, dogs get cabin fever as much as we do. But just running off that excess energy in the backyard isn’t always enough. Walking is a bonding experience, and it’s good for dogs to see and experience different things. Is your dog reactive on a leash? Canine Revival can help with that, says Tretter.
Work with your pet on doggy squats. Help build those rear muscles now to keep your dog strong and stable for years to come. What’s a doggy squat? Ask your dog to sit, then stand and walk three steps. Then repeat. For beginners, start with three to five doggy squats a week. “You might do two sets of three or four, five days in a row,” Tretter says. “As your dog gets more advanced, you can increase reps, but do them fewer times per week.”