Amy Estep, B.A.
Pet Behavior Consultant | Pet Behavior Change
Amy graduated from West Virginia University in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminology and Investigations, with a minor in Psychology and Philosophy. During her undergraduate studies, she discovered behavior analysis through a service dog training course. She earnestly shifted her area of study to behavior analysis to learn as much as she could about the science of behavior. Amy also continued to work with dogs through a local nonprofit service dog organization called Hearts of Gold, where she became a key volunteer in training the dogs to complete advanced tasks necessary for their work as service animals for people with disabilities. Amy enjoys applying her knowledge of behavior analysis and experience with dog training to help owners and their pets live a happy, harmonious life together.
Amy and her boyfriend Dylan live in Morgantown, WV, with their son, Paxton, and their black lab mix, Lola.
What is Amy’s educational background?
In Fall 2009, Amy earned her Bachelor's degree in Criminology and Investigations from West Virginia University. During what was supposed to be her final year, Amy took a service dog training course where she learned how to train service dogs using the methods of behavior analysis. Amy was so intrigued by these techniques that she knew she had to learn more; it just "clicked" for her. She stayed an extra 2 years to earn a minor in Psychology with an emphasis in Behavior Analysis. After graduating, to expand her knowledge in behavior analysis even more, Amy worked as a research assistant for Dr. Megan Maxwell. In this role, Amy assisted in the examination of the effects of delays to reinforcement and extinction on responding in dogs. Amy assisted in data collection, supervised undergraduate students during sessions, and participated in both conceptual and empirical discussions of canine behavior and learning.
Amy has become an avid believer in the principles of behavior and has devoured knowledge about how they can be applied to the real world to change behaviors. She would eventually like to attend graduate school to earn a Master's degree in Behavior Analysis.
Amy has completed the following coursework relevant to her work as a pet behavior consultant:
- Principles of Biology
- Research Methods in Psychology
- Behavior Principles
- Behavior Modification
- Behavioral Ecology
- Service Dog Training
- Advanced Service Dog Training
- Contemporary Issues in Behavior Analysis
What is Amy’s pet training/experiential background?
During college, Amy worked at a pet boarding facility where she was responsible for the daily care of both dogs and cats. She was able to meet and interact with hundreds of dogs of a large variety of breeds with many unique and diverse behaviors. Amy enjoyed pairing dogs together for group play based on careful assessments of their temperaments and behavioral tendencies.
Upon graduating, Amy took a job as a direct support professional where she provided residential and community habilitation treatment to people with disabilities. She worked with an array of individuals, using her knowledge in behavior analysis to increase their quality of life and to help them lead more independent lives. During her time as a direct support professional, she was also promoted to a team leader position.
After taking the service dog training courses, Amy became an active volunteer with the nonprofit service dog organization, Hearts of Gold. She fostered two puppies for the organization and helped to train many dogs in basic obedience. She also trained some of the more advanced commands necessary for work as a mobility assistance dog. Some of Amy's favorite tasks to train were getting water from a refrigerator and finding and retrieving a ringing phone. Through Hearts of Gold, Amy also volunteered at a local youth residential facility where she taught service dog training classes and provided hands-on dog training experiences to at-risk youth.