Miranda Jonasson stresses that you can teach an old dog new tricks.
The 19-year-old Transcona resident welcomes pooches — and owners — of all ages to her Active Paws agility classes, which she started running about a year and a half ago.
Jonasson is operating with a scaled-back schedule for the summer, but in September, she plans to continue classes at Sprockett’s Doggy Day Camp at 7-975 Thomas Ave. while expanding into southwest Winnipeg at The Little Dog House at 3-10 McGillivray Place. Beginner classes have dogs running through tunnels, jumping small hurdles, and resting on a platform.
Jonasson began training dogs when she was 12. Her first experience was working with Roxi, now nine. She said starting at such a young age made her realize there was so much more that could be done to accommodate children, who are welcome with parental supervision.
"(Starting at a young age) taught me a lot of patience and perseverance, and being stubborn too definitely helped," she said.
"(Instructors) didn’t really know how to teach a child or a young teenager how to do it. They’re used to being a little bit harsh with adults, and so Miranda is trying to fill that gap," added her mother, Karen, who recently became a partner in the business.
Miranda said the classes are designed for people who want to connect with their dogs in a fun way as opposed to preparing dogs for competition. That doesn’t mean the dogs only strut their stuff in class, though — they’ve been in the Transcona Hi Neighbour Festival parade the last two years.
Miranda knew she wanted to run classes even in high school, so she took business classes at Murdoch MacKay Collegiate in preparation. After completing classes in January of her Grade 12 year, she went to Victoria, B.C. along with Shilah, now three, to attend classes with Ben Kersen and the Wonderdogs, which she noted was geared more toward obedience as opposed to agility.
Both the family’s dogs are mixed breeds, which are harder to train than purebreds. Miranda said her classes are good for owners who are looking for a fun way to teach their dogs obedience, while also safely socializing them.
"There are a lot more mixed breeds now that don’t listen, versus purebreds that do listen," she noted. "The (owners) that don’t like dog parks or don’t trust their dogs off-leash tend to come to my business because most of the locations are inside in a fenced area, and their dog is the only one in that fenced area."
Classes, which are offered on a month-to-month basis, generally run approximately 45 minutes and allow six dogs at a time.
Miranda also hopes to help welcome foster dogs into the classes. She will hold a walkathon on Sept. 29 at 1 p.m. beginning at Oxford Heights Community Club (359 Dowling Ave. E.). She hopes to help make the dogs become more adoptable.
"It’s a great confidence booster for the dog," she said. "It’s for the shy and the timid and the fear-aggressive. All those kinds of dogs, by the end of the six weeks, they’re not reacting to the dogs, they’re not reacting to the other people in the class."
For more information, contact Jonasson via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 204-899-8005.