Near Pont-l’Evêque: Vanessa has created her school for dogs, with her own as assistants

Vanessa’s dogs are an integral part of her coaching method. ©Camille RUFFRAY / The Pays d’Auge

There is no age to find your way. Also an accountant, Vanessa Chatelain founded School Dog, a school for dogs in Saint-André-d’Hébertot (Calvados). “The common thread in my life is animals. This is what inspires me, carries me”, sums up this 42-year-old woman, who is thus realizing a dream and making a vocation vibrating in it since always.

A visceral passion since childhood

As far as she can remember, they have always accompanied her. “I have always been surrounded by animals, I grew up with dogs, horses, hamsters… I spent more time with animals than with my friends! she recalls. If she finds in them “refuge” and “comfort”, the young Vanessa is not content to take their tenderness. But also to give it to them.

“As a teenager, I got two dogs that no one wanted. I educated them on my own, education was already essential for me. »

As a young adult, Vanessa sees herself exercising a profession in this environment. “My parents didn’t see a future for me there, they wanted me to study for a long time,” she recalls. Her cat and her dog under her arm, so she leaves the family cocoon to take Spanish lessons. “I was more often in my apartment with my animals than on the benches of the university”, smiles Vanessa. In the early 2000s, the family then in Picardy returned to their Norman ties to live on the farm of their grandparents on the Côte Fleurie. In parallel with her activity as an accountant, which she learns as an autodidact, she creates her small dog draining. Although it ceased in 2013, her dogs never left her: “they punctuate my daily life, it’s a visceral passion”, sums up Vanessa. This great athlete then joined a canine club to practice agility with her doggies. His “feeling” and his experience with dogs are quickly spotted; Vanessa becomes a volunteer and puts her paw in the club by becoming a volunteer.

Transform this “gift” into a profession

At the dawn of quarantine and such overwhelming confinement, her dream as a little girl catches up with her once again. What if this “gift” could turn into a professional activity? “My relatives said to me: why don’t you start your business? You have all the skills and field experience. I had regained my self-confidence, so I started, ”rejoices Vanessa, head of School Dog.

With her do-it-yourself husband, she is converting 1,000 m² of unused land into an agility space. The enthusiast offers sporting activities, notably the canirando, before getting down to education and rehabilitation sessions. His activity quickly met with biting success, helped by his network of veterinarians on the Côte Fleurie and by word of mouth.

Innovative method with his dogs

The one who describes her method as “innovative” offers personalized and individual coaching. “My mission is to teach the master to give a good education to his dog and that it is not a chore! It doesn’t have to be robotic, but a good time for everyone, ”summarizes Vanessa.

The first session takes place at the duo’s home, then at her home, “in order to establish communication and a bond between the dog and his master”. Then, the educator brings out her first allies: his own dogs ! Her two Border Terriers, from her breeding, Léa, her German shepherd that she adopted and educated, and the last of the band, Roukie, spitz that she took care of and that her masters finally entrusted to her for life. Individually very different, his dogs are his best assistants and are an integral part of his coaching.

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“The mirror effect is essential between dogs so that they have the right behavior: they learn to manage other congeners, to listen to their master…”

His second secret: the other sessions take place outside. “In an always identical place, the dog will condition itself, and once at home, it will resume its bad habits. The idea is precisely to teach him to understand all situations, ”explains the educator who continues to train. With her band of doggies who are both coaches and living proof of her skills, the bubbly Vanessa wants share your state of mind : “What I experience with my dogs, I want to share with masters and other dogs by giving them a happy and fulfilling life. »

School Dog in Saint-André-d’Hébertot, intervention 50 km around Saint-André, contact: 06 85 16 96 23. Vanessa Ch on Facebook. Website:

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