A shared love of dogs brought two recent Christopher Newport University graduates together to create a canine training business.
In mid-January, Katie Eaton and Morgan Strack opened The Good Dog Yorktown.
The 4,400-square-foot facility on Production Drive includes a 2,900-square-foot warehouse with waterproof agility mat flooring. The duo offers a variety of classes including obedience, outdoor, agility, trick training, and conformation. Each session meets once a week and runs for six weeks. A puppy social hour is available to teach young ones how to “politely” play with other dogs.
The warehouse is available for weekday rentals by kennel clubs or dog owners in search of space for doggy playtime or birthday celebrations. A retail shop is stocked with T-shirts, hats and essential training equipment such as collars, leashes, and treats.
“Katie and I decided to go for it and do it all ourselves,” Strack said. “Nothing makes me happier than watching the bond between owner and dog grow while teaching both new skills and techniques.”
Ambitious to branch out as business owner, Eaton approached Strack with the idea and she was equally eager. Eaton had helped train Strack’s goldendoodle named Cooper and they realized their shared passion for dog training.
Eaton’s career path took flight after taking her first puppy, Athena, a German shepherd-husky mix, to training classes with Rebecca Hendrickson, owner of On Command Dog Training in York County, three and a half years ago.
“She really really liked what I was doing, how I was with the dog and she pretty much offered me a job on the spot,” Eaton said. “I really haven’t looked back since. I love it so much I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
Eaton also owns Aurora, a 2.5-year-old Lab mix and Artie, an 18-month-old Golden Retriever. The Northern Virginia native said she’s been drawn to dogs since she was young.
“Even my high school senior quote read, ‘Be the person your dog thinks you are,’” Eaton said.
She received her bachelor’s degree in organismal biology and psychology from CNU in 2018.
“I learned pretty much everything about animals, but my focus was heavily on behavior,” Eaton said. “As I continue to grow as a trainer, I solely focus on better understanding the canine psyche and helping owners feel confident and comfortable handling their dog in any situation.”
Strack, a 2020 graduate of CNU’s Luter School of Business, is working toward her certification under Eaton as a mentor.
The York native and daughter of entrepreneurs said the opportunity fell into her lap and she is grateful. She said she wanted to make her childhood dream to become a dog trainer a reality and combine it with her newfound aspiration of entrepreneurship.
Business has been steady since opening, Strack said. In time, they want to bring new trainers on board and add more classes.
“We have an unpaid mentorship program for people who have zero experience,” Strack said.
The two women feel humbled by the community’s support and that new clients trust them with their dogs.
“Nothing is more enjoyable than having a well-behaved dog to go on adventures with, and my goal is to help you get there as well,” Strack said.
Sandra J. Pennecke, 757-652-5836, [email protected]