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Former Paramedic Left The Medical Field To Pursue a Career With Animals

After working as a paramedic for 10 years, Whitley Cheatham unleashed her love for dog training by becoming a Dog Training Elite franchise owner.

Whitley Cheatham has always loved animals, but she never expected her career as a paramedic would eventually lead her to working with animals full-time, let alone owning her own petcare business. But that’s exactly what Cheatham is doing now as one of the newest franchisees with Dog Training Elite*, the 30-plus-unit dog training franchise that is quickly expanding in markets across the country.

Cheatham’s Dog Training Elite location in San Antonio helps dog owners better understand and interact with their pets by focusing on positive reinforcement and a personalized, in-home approach that allows owners to be an important part of the training process.

1851 Franchise: Tell me your story – what did you do before franchising?

Whitley Cheatham: I grew up in East Texas, and after earning a degree in EMS, I worked in that field for 10 years. Being a paramedic was very rewarding, but the hours were long, and the environment was stressful. I hoped to switch gears into a less stressful career but still make a living doing something I was passionate about. I first came in contact with Dog Training Elite while training my Malinois for personal protection. Although I loved the idea of working with animals, I initially did not think this was something I could do to make a living.

1851: How did you initially find out about franchising, and what was your perception of franchising before becoming a franchise owner?

Cheatham: After working with Dog Training Elite as a client, I researched the franchise opportunities in my area. Initially, I considered it too risky for me—I needed the stability of knowing I had a regular paycheck, but when the previous owner asked if I would be interested in taking over, I couldn’t resist. Prior to Dog Training Elite, I had never trained dogs professionally or even worked in sales, but I had a strong desire to be my own boss and do something I love. Dog Training Elite felt right, and taking that leap has certainly paid off.

1851: How did you decide you wanted to be a franchisee?

Cheatham: After my own dog was trained by Dog Training Elite and I saw the wonderful transformation that high-level training made, I had full confidence in the training program and business model. When the opportunity presented itself to own my local Dog Training Elite franchise, I couldn’t say no.

1851: How did you perform your research?

Cheatham: I really didn’t do prior research before buying Dog Training Elite. The owner was leaving and asked if I wanted to take over. I had been a client with Dog Training Elite for almost two years when this opportunity arose, and I was familiar with the system.

1851: Why did you pick Dog Training Elite? What excited you most about the potential?

Cheatham: I have always loved animals, so I loved the idea of getting to work with dogs. Dog Training Elite was not the first company I used to train my personal dogs, but with their methods and success rate, they were the last trainers that I ever needed. Additionally, I liked the idea of offering a high level of training to clients while also having a set schedule with normal hours.

1851: What are your dreams with the business? What does the future look like?

Cheatham: My hope is to open a facility and have the ability to have a daytime training program where we can train specialized service dogs. We also hope to expand our involvement with The Malinois Foundation so we can continue assisting veterans and first responders by donating service dogs.

1851: What advice would you have for others looking at buying a franchise?

Cheatham: I would tell others to do it. It has been 100% worth it. The opportunity has far outweighed the risk, and it has been amazing to have the support of corporate to help me start out, answer questions and assist with events. 

1851: What do you do in your personal time (hobbies, family, sports, etc.)?

Cheatham: I love spending time outdoors as much as possible. I have always enjoyed hiking and riding horses, but more recently, I’ve gotten really into backpacking, and I am planning a trip to Yellowstone over the summer. Additionally, I volunteer for The Malinois Foundation through Dog Training Elite and also in my personal time. Last year I took two road trips, one to Phoenix, AZ and one to Peoria, IL, to personally deliver dogs to veterans. I am passionate about giving back to those who have positively impacted our communities.


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, personal protection 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 Dog Training Elite, visit

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