bannerFranchisee Stories

Why This Military Veteran and His Animal-Loving Wife Chose a Dog Training Elite Franchise

Joe and Marlene Spencer are combining their passions and experience to bring the franchise to Kentuckiana.

By Victoria CampisiStaff Writer
SPONSORED 8:08AM 07/06/24

Joe Spencer’s background in the military spans 30 years, during which he dedicated himself to serving his country. Transitioning from active duty to the reserves, Joe and his wife Marlene looked for a business opportunity that could provide financial stability and allow them to spend more time together as a family.

With Marlene’s deep love for animals and her experience as an assistant manager at a pet supply store, Dog Training Elite* offered the perfect fit. Now, Joe and Marlene can build a successful business in Kentuckiana, Kentucky, while enjoying the chance to be together, no longer separated by long deployments.

1851 Franchise spoke to the Spencer’s about their franchise journey with Dog Training Elite 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?

Joe Spencer: I'm a 30-year military guy. I wanted to take battalion command of the unit where I started at, which was a reserve unit. I had to come off active duty for that, so that left me with kind of a partial income — just a reserve type income — and we needed to find something to replace that. So we started looking into franchising. We went with a franchise coach and he gave us a few options of what could get us to where we needed to be. At the end of it, one of them was Dog Training Elite. Marlene is the assistant manager of a pet supply store here in Kentucky, and she loves animals, so that's how we picked this one.

Marlene Spencer:  I'm a big sucker when it comes to animals. We have a one-acre lot in the country and I tried to turn it into a farm with chickens and everything. Now we're just really excited about getting this opportunity that's been kind of presented to us and we're just kind of ready to run with it.

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?

Marlene: I think we were a little naive when it came to the knowledge of how many different franchise options are out there. You know, the first thing you think of is the restaurant industry — and there's just so much more out there — but we've always been interested in starting our own business. We kind of joked about our own franchise, but never really thought it was for us. We thought it was kind of out of our limits, maybe. And then when we spoke to our franchise coach, he quickly made us realize that it's not out of our reach and it's totally in our reach and so that's what we're doing.

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

Marlene: There were a few choices. We did the personality test and stuff and, based on that, our franchise consultant broke down some different types of franchises that would be a good fit for us. And just kind of going over everything, DTE [Dog Training Elite] really just kind of seemed like the fit for us. It was something that we could have a little bit of knowledge going into starting it, not just going cold turkey with this 100%. And it's something that I have a passion for. And it's a moneymaker. So, we wanted something that kind of had all of that. We want to make money, but also provide great customer service.

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

Joe: Like Marlene said, we hope to make some money, but it's more than that. We want to be financially independent by our early 50s, which is just a few short years away. My goal has always been to retire around 53 to 55 years old, so we're on plan and we're on track to do that as long as we make this business profitable. When the business takes off, we will grow it and have more employees and eventually pass that off to an operations manager who can run the business.

Marlene: Reputation with a legacy is probably the goal that we would really ultimately like to have.

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

Marlene: For me personally, as a military spouse, it's finally a means to an end of him always having to be gone and for the kids having to adjust to different lifestyles. We're finally at a point in our lives where we can just be a family and stick together. He has worked so hard, just making sure that we've had everything we wanted and needed. And unfortunately that required him to be gone for sometimes years at a time — he just got back from a two-year separation. So, knowing that all the hard work that he has put in for that for our family, and now we're finally in a place where he can be home is just nice.

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

Marlene: It's not as scary as it appears. We really thought that it was something that was out of our reach. And it wasn't. We probably could have done this years ago if we’d had a little bit more knowledge. Don't be afraid of doing something that's just uncomfortable to you because great things can come from it. We own our own business now, we never would have thought we would have done that.


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.