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Dog Training Elite Franchisees Go From the Oil Fields to the Dog Park

Since Denise and Gray Hall ventured into franchising with Dog Training Elite one year ago, they’ve been enjoying the freedom of business ownership while making a positive impact in their community.

By Erica InmanStaff Writer
SPONSORED 8:08AM 06/07/24

Gray Hall, a Texas native and outdoorsman, has always enjoyed working with animals. Growing up in San Antonio, he majored in Ranch Management at Texas Christian University and went to work managing his family’s whitetail deer ranch. After meeting his wife, Denise, Gray knew he couldn’t do ranch work forever. As Gray and Denise grew their family, he tried his hand at oilfield sales and heavy machinery sales but grew disillusioned with the corporate world. As the Halls were pondering their future, a family friend introduced them to Dog Training Elite*, a dog obedience and training brand that would change everything. 

With his prior experience providing customer service, Gray was eager to start his own business and be able to become a leader in a company that truly helps people and gives back. Gray and Denise Hall went into franchising with Dog Training Elite in February of 2023 and, one year later, they’re still thrilled with their decision.

“This opportunity has given us the chance to be leaders and be able to help people in our community in the ways that we want, without being constrained by the corporate world,” said Gray. “For example, we can work on the weekend if we need to or work with those who are less fortunate and meet any need we see. We can do what we feel is right because we are able to make the choices as business owners.”

Being able to work with animals and providing a meaningful and important service to their community in rural central Texas is what the Halls find most rewarding. 

1851 Franchise spoke with Gray and Denise Hall about their journey into franchising with Dog Training Elite (DTE) and their plans for the future.


1851 Franchise: Frame your personal story for us. What did you do before franchising, and how did you decide franchising made sense for you?

Denise: I have a science background, in DNA forensics and genetic counseling. I’ve always felt drawn to helping people understand complex scientific concepts. I still love science, but in our new business I see the opportunity to help people understand how to best communicate with their dogs. I’ve been a stay-at-home mom, working part time in oil and gas, for the past five years. Now I’m excited to build a business with Gray. We’ve built a great family — three kids, three dogs, one cat — and I’m excited to be successful in a business with him as well. 

Gray: I started off working on our family's ranch south of San Antonio. My dad and I were working with and breeding whitetail deer. I liked working with animals a lot and being outside in the country, so I went to Texas Christian University for Ranch Management. Although it’s a wonderful lifestyle, after having a family, I knew I couldn’t do ranching forever. I went into oilfield sales, but the oilfield doesn’t provide the job security I’m looking for. I went into heavy machinery sales but I just never found a job that felt like home. Our friends own a Dog Training Elite franchise on the East Coast and introduced the brand to us. 

Working with dogs and helping our fellow Texans really spoke to me. Seeing how these dogs help folks is huge, and there is an unmet need for service dog training in rural central Texas. The thought that we could be part of the solution in a part of Texas that we love so much is beyond exciting to us; it felt like a calling. 

1851: What was your perception of franchising prior to becoming a franchisee, and what do you want people to know about franchising now that you are in it?

Denise: I had a very impersonal perception of franchising. I only knew the big-name brands, and I never gave it much thought before. Learning about DTE and becoming part of the pack has been eye-opening. They are a solid group of people that care about our success, and have been helpful and kind. We’re excited to be part of such a great group.

Gray: We’ve had a wonderful experience being welcomed to the pack. Basically, the people from corporate are eager to help us and are genuine. After meeting them, our perception of franchising grew and changed. We’re excited to have support and resources, and would recommend franchising to any new business owner. 

1851: What made you pick this brand? What excites you most about this company?

Denise: We didn’t look into any other franchise because we knew friends within DTE that talked so highly about the brand. We’re really excited about helping folks train their dogs to have elite obedience, and training service dogs. The more we learned about DTE, the more excited we got about it. 

There’s a huge need for basic obedience training and people really like the in-home model, especially for retirees or people who live very remotely. Some people are really desperate for this basic training for their dogs; it can make such a big difference. We love to be able to provide this for dog owners.

Gray: I wouldn’t have known to reach out to DTE if it wasn’t for our friends in South Carolina that own a DTE location. After speaking with them, we felt so comfortable, and they couldn’t stress enough how it has changed their lives for the better. Having a glowing review about the brand meant a lot, and with each step forward, it just felt right for our family. 

Since we cover such a large and rural territory, a lot of trainers will only travel about 30 to 40 minutes away and there is a huge need for dog training for people who live outside that boundary. For us, three hours is our max, so we are happy to take people by the hand out here and show them how to train their dog and give them everything they need to continue training when we aren’t around. We are willing to go that extra mile, quite literally.

1851: What do you hope to achieve with your business? What are your plans for growth? 

Denise: We would love to join with the other Texas franchisees and be the experts in the field of dog training for Texas. We want to concentrate on service dogs and autism support animals because it’s dear to our hearts. Our territories cover a huge geographical area; we surround Austin on all sides.

People are moving to this area in droves. As the population grows in central Texas, we want to be able to grow with it.

Gray: There is definitely enough growth in our area to continue growing within the territories that we cover.

1851: What is the one thing about your story you want us to know?

Denise: We believe that to whom much is given, much will be required. This wonderful opportunity came into our lives at the exact right time, and we are committed to working hard and changing lives. We really do care about our clients and making central Texas a better place. 

Gray: Doing and studying are two different things. The natural growth I have experienced in being a dog trainer for a year now is huge.

This opportunity has given us the chance to be leaders and be able to help people in our community in the ways that we want, without being constrained by the corporate world. For example, we can work on the weekend if we need to or work with those who are less fortunate and meet any need we see. We can do what we feel is right because we are able to make the choices as business owners.

1851: What advice do you have for other people thinking about becoming a franchise owner?

Denise: Find another franchisee and talk to them, preferably someone new who still has the process fresh in their mind. 

Gray: Utilize every resource available to you to learn about the specific franchise and what the first year or so is like. I loved watching the future franchisee Q&A video sessions that DTE provided, and I learned a ton there. 

Also, you need to be prepared because starting a franchise takes a lot more of everything than you think it will, especially in the beginning. More time and more money.  


With more than four decades of experience in dog training, Dog Training Elite is one of the country’s leading obedience and specialized training franchises. Offering a comprehensive suite of customizable training programs, Dog Training Elite works with dogs and owners to meet any and all training needs, including therapy dog training and advanced service dog training for PTSD support, psychiatric support, mobility support, autism support, diabetic alert training and an array of other services. In addition to the wide breadth of services offered, Dog Training Elite differentiates itself from competitors through a uniquely human-focused approach to dog training, which focuses on helping owners and their families learn to effectively and consistently support their dog’s training needs. To learn more about franchising with the Franchise 500 Dog Training Elite, visit

*This brand is a paid partner of 1851 Franchise. For more information on paid partnerships please click here.