A pooch-loving business owner has been nominated for a leading dog training award despite being unable to hold face-to-face sessions for most of the last year.

Nathalie Yates, owner of Dogology Training, has been confirmed as a finalist in the Animal Star Awards’ Dog Trainer of the Year category.

The boost comes despite the coronavirus pandemic resulting in Nathalie, of Great Wakering, being unable to meet up with members of the community and their dogs for large periods of the last 12 months.

Nathalie, who established the Barling-based Dogology Training three years ago, is overwhelmed to be in the running for such a prestigious gong.

She said: “I am really pleased to be a finalist, but it was totally unexpected.

“One of my clients must have put me forward and it comes after also being nominated last year.

Gunning for glory - Nathalies four-legged friends and clients dogs have competed in events following her training sessions

Gunning for glory - Nathalie's four-legged friends and clients' dogs have competed in events following her training sessions

“Unlike last year, though, I am a finalist and I am over the moon because it means so much to me.

“It’s a great thing to discover after what has been a particularly difficult year.”

Nathalie, who owns a Japanese Shiba Inu named Oki and Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers called Pancake and Olive, has been forced to alter her business in the midst of a global pandemic.

Current government restrictions mean she has been unable to enjoy her usual one-to-one sessions with four-legged friends.

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However, the 36-year-old has refused to let Covid-19 stop her in her tracks.

Nathalie added: “I have always loved dogs and it has been a dream come true setting up Dogology Training more than three years ago.

“The pandemic came along and, while a lot of businesses were unable to continue, I started doing Zoom calls with dog owners and I’d tell them how to teach their pet.

“It hasn’t been easy going down that route but it’s a case of needs must and all of my clients have been so supportive.

Well-trained - Olive, Pancake and Oki with their Trick Dog title certificates

Well-trained - Olive, Pancake and Oki with their Trick Dog title certificates

“My clients have been sending videos and then I’ve been giving feedback, but I much prefer being with the dogs in my field.”

Nathalie, who will find out whether she has been crowned Dog Trainer of the Year on March 28, has plans to increase her workload when restrictions are lifted.

She admitted: “I will go up to five classes each week and also hold one-to-one sessions with clients’ dogs whenever I am allowed.

“It has been a tough year for everyone and I can’t wait to help more dogs.”