Top Dog Academy, Inc. was founded in 1997 with the idea that pet obedience training should be both owner and dog friendly as well as affordable. Drake was the guy with the dog savvy knowledge, John brought the business sense, and Bill had a marketing vision. All of these talents combined created the opportunity to introduce eastern North Carolina's first dog training facility offering pet obedience classes and an interactive daycare experience. Any place these guys go with their canine companions, there is constant acknowledgement in just seeing their calm control and the easy adoration emulating from their dogs. The examples these originators maintain are the goals we set for every customer entering our facility.
Although John and Bill ventured into other careers, Drake partnered with his wife, Angela, in 2001 to continue training dogs and teaching people. They have worked side by side for over 20 years and raised two amazing kids along the way. The Parkers are truly grateful for the ongoing support received from area animal shelters, rescue groups, veterinary offices, pet related businesses and most importantly Top Dog's dedicated customer base!
Just a little fun fact as to the origin of our question, "Who's Top Dog?" - Drake has a signature trick with each of his dogs. However, there have been several throughout the years that would bark enthusiastically when asked this particular question.
Top Dog methods were originally created by our founder, Drake Parker, to teach simple communication techniques in a way our dogs can learn to trust our guidance. We believe that in order to have a confident and well-mannered pet, you must first learn how your dog interprets the world. Today, there is the belief that food is the strongest motivator in teaching a dog obedience tasks. This approach is really very impractical for the average pet owner or general public. Many times the line is crossed and food based training becomes a bribe. For Conformation training or to begin a complicated task in service work, the use of food may be more practical, but not always necessary. However, when taking your dog for a walk, food often falls short of what you need to stay in control. Training or behavior modification should be based on consistency and repetition, as well as emphasis on praise and interaction with vocal tones and body language. This is the way dogs interact with each other and therefore a sound approach to lasting success. It’s a more personal approach as well. We fully believe that in order to change unwanted behaviors they must first be confronted. Ignoring bad habits does not necessarily mean they will go away. Corrections given in a fair manner will simply let a dog know they are wrong. The level at which you take the correction is of utmost importance. Corrections aren’t to be given due to frustration or anger and should never be abusive. The flip side of this, the reward, is your personal interaction with your dog. An encouraging “Good Boy!” along with tactile reinforcement can be your most rewarding motivation. It takes conditioning and time to build a bond with your dog. Trust and respect must be earned, not forced. Timing is also an important communication tool. Right now is all that matters to a dog. Five seconds ago is the past and five seconds from now is the future. If you cannot make your point in the present, you lose your teachable moment. Owners must be willing to be consistent during early stages of teaching to receive long-term benefits. Our society today seems to look for a quick fix to every problem. However, immediate gratification is not always the best answer for lasting results. Just as with raising children, boundaries, structure, respect, and fairness are absolutely necessary in having a balanced and well-mannered pet.
Our 10,000 square foot facility offers spacious temperature controlled areas for both training and indoor daycare play. Outside we have two fenced daycare playgrounds and a fenced training area totaling over 15,000 square feet. Our lobby offers complete viewing access to both our daycare and training rooms. Just outside of the Greenville city limits, we are also convenient to Winterville, Kinston, New Bern, Chocowinity, and Washington. If you would like to meet us or just haven’t seen us in a while, come by for a visit. There is always someone here ready to talk dogs!
Top Dog Academy circa 1997 - Grimesland, NC
After receiving his certification through the National K9 Dog Trainers Association, Drake explored various aspects of training . He served as a field trainer for Paws with a Cause, apprenticed with trainers specializing in personal protection, law enforcement K9's and dog sports, competed with his dogs in agility trials and obedience comp
After receiving his certification through the National K9 Dog Trainers Association, Drake explored various aspects of training . He served as a field trainer for Paws with a Cause, apprenticed with trainers specializing in personal protection, law enforcement K9's and dog sports, competed with his dogs in agility trials and obedience competitions, as well as achieved multiple pet therapy certifications. Drake found the missing link in the Greenville area was simple pet obedience classes for the general public. Along with founding Top Dog Academy, he taught classes at local community colleges, volunteered with community animal shelters and rescues, and led the most successful New Leash on Life program through NCDOC to date. These days, along with overseeing the daily routine at our facility, you'll find Drake and his dogs performing at college basketball games, continuing their training in search and rescue, or enjoying time together at disc dog competitions. His broad range of education and understanding of how dogs interpret their environment has helped many pet owners in this area and beyond for over 30 years.
Prior to joining Drake at Top Dog, Angela worked in Greenville as a veterinary technician for several years. After a year managing the office and just as anyone else before her, she began Drake's rigorous 1000+ hour dog trainer apprenticeship program. Early on Angela recognized the importance of promoting responsible dog ownership and b
Prior to joining Drake at Top Dog, Angela worked in Greenville as a veterinary technician for several years. After a year managing the office and just as anyone else before her, she began Drake's rigorous 1000+ hour dog trainer apprenticeship program. Early on Angela recognized the importance of promoting responsible dog ownership and became a Canine Good Citizen evaluator through the AKC. She has maintained this certification for 20 years. Angela has also participated in numerous continuing education workshops and seminars along the east coast concentrating on obedience, behavior modification, shelter dog behavior, and pet therapy. She has designed specific classes for local animal rescue groups that focus on teaching skills to promote adoption success. Angela frequently solicits the help of her office cat and rescue pup to assist in anything from group classes to neighborhood walk sessions. From initial consultations to completion of any program, the most satisfying part of her job is watching pet owners and pups enjoy life together.
Shortly after moving to the area, Karrie started at Top Dog as a volunteer. Karrie first began her dog training journey volunteering as a puppy raiser with Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation in Connecticut. She wanted to teach her son, Thomas, the importance of giving back to the community through raising and training a puppy that would go on t
Shortly after moving to the area, Karrie started at Top Dog as a volunteer. Karrie first began her dog training journey volunteering as a puppy raiser with Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation in Connecticut. She wanted to teach her son, Thomas, the importance of giving back to the community through raising and training a puppy that would go on to serve as a guide dog. Her eagerness to learn our methods of pet obedience training quickly moved Karrie into an apprenticeship at Top Dog. Fast forward almost 10 years later and Karrie is not only one of our primary Puppy Kindergarten and Basic Obedience class instructors, but has also gone back to her roots of raising quality pups for Fidelco. She's been an amazing ambassador for the foundation all the way down here in North Carolina. Karrie's commitment to training a well-mannered and balanced dog shines through in every class she teaches and every person she meets, whether here at our facility or out and about with her Fidelco pups in training.