My name is Estelle Vickery and I live in Gloucester with my husband, three children and three dogs – a rescue cross breed called Chula, a Dobermann called Rhea, and a Smooth Collie called Sebastian. We also have two rescue cats called Kitty and Skye. Training with my own dogs is a favourite past-time of mine and we enjoy breed showing and rally obedience as well as trick training and other activities.
Animals have always been a big part of my life and I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to work with them. So after finishing school and college I spent a year in Texas gaining hands on experience at a kennels; grooming, training, and caring for the resident dogs and working with my rescue pup Chula.
After an amazing year in the States, Chula returned with me and I enrolled on the BSc (hons) Animal Behaviour and Welfare course at Hartpury College (UWE). Three years later I graduated with First Class Honours and was awarded Top Student.
Little Paws was then born and has grown rapidly over the years. I have since completed my MSc Animal Behaviour and Welfare, joined the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC) and Kennel Club Accreditation Scheme for Instructors (KCAI) and gained Kennel Club Listed Status.
During my time at university I conducted several pieces of research into the psychological benefits of assistance dogs and the potential benefits of psychological assistance dogs. I was very proud to take both my studies to two international conferences. This is an area I am very passionate about and continue to be involved in.
Other courses useful in developing my career include Canine Emergency Care, Animal First Aid, Canine Behaviour and Training, Animal Psychology and various animal behaviour related conferences and seminars. I am also a KCGCDS examiner an Pets As Therapy Assessor.
Our assistant trainer Jen joined us in 2014 with her two rescue dogs Sweepy and Bea. Both dogs were struggling with a fear of other dogs after being attacked prior to Jen rehoming them. Jen worked very hard in and out of class and within a year had achieved KCGCDS Gold with both dogs. Jen also enjoys active training in other canine sports such as canicross and rally obedience.
It wasn't long before Jen got the training bug and began shadowing classes, learning everything she could about dog training and learning theory. In 2015 Jen started taking a more active assisting role, and in 2016 became co-trainer in our puppy and adult starters classes. Jen also now assists in our KCGCDS bronze, silver and gold award classes, as well as in our platinum, tricks/fun agility and rally obedience classes. In 2017, Jen took on her own classes in Quedgeley, as well as leading our training and socialisation walks.
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