The first client to walk through the door at What a Great Dog Training Center in Richardson was Barbara, a woman at her wit’s end.
Barbara had turned to What a Great Dog as a last resort in training her mutt, Phoebe, center co-owner Sharon Lacaze said. After a year and a half of manners and agility training, Phoebe—a once unruly shelter dog—now ranks in competitions.
“[Barbara] would have never thought in a million years that [Phoebe] would have gotten to this point,” Lacaze said.
Barbara and Phoebe’s journey is one of many success stories for What a Great Dog. Maureen Patin launched the business in 2007 out of her Prosper barn. Today the business operates out of a location in Frisco as well as a 16,000-square-foot branch in Richardson.
Lacaze was a former client and dog trainer when she joined the ownership team in 2016. A lifelong entrepreneur, Lacaze had owned a Which Which franchise and Cupcakes Cubed in Frisco.
The business motto—Every dog can be a great dog!—is at the heart of its programs, which teach manners, agility, nose work, rallying and obedience. Each hourlong class is led by a trainer who has undergone a yearlong internal education and shadowing program. The Richardson branch hosts 80 group classes each week and serves about 500 active clients. About 45% come in for basic training, while the remainder are training for or competing in dog sports.
The word “dog” is in the center’s name, but an equal if not greater emphasis is placed on training humans to positively reinforce those behaviors at home, Lacaze said. That’s why the center does not offer drop-off training services, she said.
“If you’ve been taught how to work with and train your dog, your chances of success and continuing [the training] are much higher,” she said.