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About Top Tier K9®

Established in 2014, Top Tier K9 has grown to become the premiere dog training system in the world.  No other organization offers the solutions that are available through Top Tier K9.

Top Tier K9 has several programs of interest to the public. 


Pet training program:  We trains pets in local communities in general communications (command sequence) and basic obedience using a balanced approach to dog training.  That means we use rewards and corrections in the training process.  We also train the owners how to properly maintain the training.

Foundation Dog® Program:  Trademarked by Top Tier K9, LLC a Foundation Dog® is like a special operations warrior.  Trained on 50 elements that roll up into 4 functions of tracking, scent detection, protection and advanced obedience; a 7 week old puppy is technically ready for it's mission (like a 20 year old Navy SEAL) at the ripe old age of 20 weeks.  All a Foundation Dog® then needs to be "finished" is a mission requirement and exposure to that specific theater of operations.  Finished Foundation Dogs® are used as Executive/Family Protection Dogs, Service Dogs that also Protect, Special Security Dogs including virus and bomb detection, and other military needs.

Academy for Dog Trainers:  We teach people who love dogs how to train pets and to start their own pet training business.  We have a franchise system to help jump start the pet training businesses and have certified more than 150 pet trainers around the world.  The 2nd level of our Academy is Foundation Dog® trainer and masters programs for finishing Foundation Dogs® as protection dog, service dogs and special security dogs.  The Top Tier K9 Academy for Dog Trainers is recognized as one of the top dog trainer schools in the world


Finished Foundation Dog® sales:  The public can acquire service dogs, protection dogs, and special security dogs directly from Top Tier K9 Corporate locations or through select Franchisees who have completed level 2 status.  Our average turn around time from contract completion to finishing a Foundation Dog® for it's mission (and training the owner) is 8 only weeks.


Top Tier K9 in the Metaverse:  Top Tier K9 is the first (and only) Dog Trainer School that has integrated programs into the Metaverse.  Users can practice the command sequence with a virtual dog and speed up their learning curve so their real dog is easier to manage and doesn't suffer under the hands of an inexperienced owner.


Franchise Option:  A rapidly growing franchise system, Top Tier K9 Franchising provides a ready made dog training business for our elite graduates who qualify.  Operating out of your home, small building, large kennel or even attached to your existing boarding/daycare business, owning a Top Tier K9 dog training business allows you to be the top dog in your own community.

This website is loaded with additional information that may be of interest to you.  Our mission is to empty shelters.  We have found that educating owners and training the dogs is the best solution to do that.  By adding more dog trainers we are a "Force Multiplier" and for those who understand the principles of our Foundation Dog® program, you understand that as well.  We will never be outworked.


Top Tier K9 Team

Top Tier K9 is staffed by some of the top dog trainers, and people trainers in the world.  Our team is made up of industry experts, certified master and professional dog trainers, decorated combat veterans and award winning business leaders and teachers.  The core team at Top Tier K9 are listed below.  We also have many affiliates and graduates that you can see on the affiliate page and the graduate page under the school menu who contribute to classes and to the on-going improvement of our educational programs.


Jeff Minder, PMP

CEO and Founder


Mr. Minder is a Master Dog Trainer, an award winning teacher, the inventor of the world's first Virtual Reality Dog Training Center, and specializes in advanced puppy imprinting including advanced obedience, tracking, scent detection and protection. This is  known as the Foundation Dog® Program in which Mr. Minder went through the legal process and federal investigation to be awarded the Federal Trademark for Foundation Dog® and for Top Tier K9®.


The training programs developed by Top Tier K9 utilize Mr. Minder's unique approach to course development, project management, cutting edge learning tools, processes and methods. As a result of his Foundation Dog® methods and techniques, Top Tier K9 was the first in the world to successfully train dogs how to hunt for and indicate on the Covid-19 virus. Mr. Minder has poured his heart and soul into his company and continues to focus on the scope of his business as he went through the legal processes to Franchise Top Tier K9 in August of 2022.

Mr. Minder’s main scope for his company is bridging the gap between humans and dogs. He takes pride in training dogs and also having the ability to teach the human how to maintain the training and the communication system with the dog and it's owner. Mr. Minder has worked extremely hard to apply professionalism within this unregulated industry leading the way for his students and their customers.

Mr. Minder is an award winning teacher and entrepreneur with degrees in computer science, mathematics, Informational Systems Design, and Search & Rescue. He has been recognized by Dell Computers and the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) in their entrepreneur of the year awards. Mr. Minder was a nominee to the Air Commando Hall of Fame, and was recognized as one of the top Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) Instructors in the US Military. Mr. Minder has been mentioned in many books, articles and tv news segments pertaining to his past in the US Military and the accomplishments of Top Tier K9. As a business consultant and certified project manager (PMP), Mr. Minder has worked with several of the world’s largest and most successful companies including Lockheed Martin, Knowles Atomic Power Lab, and Motorola to name a few.


As a teacher, Mr. Minder has applied his unique approach on project management and business analysis through organizations and universities across the United States to thousands of students. Mr. Minder continues to teach through his own Top Tier K9 Academy for Dog Trainers. In the Top Tier K9 courses people learn how to train pets, and working dogs for individuals along with learning how to create, operate and succeed as a business owner!


Alyssa Browning

Unit Manager Tallahassee and Madison Locations


Ms. Browning is a Top Tier K9 certified Pet and Foundation Dog® Trainer. She also has recently obtained her Master Dog Trainer certification in programs for Police and Military K9, Service Dogs, Protection Dogs and Covid-19 Detection Dogs.

Ms. Browning has always had a passion and desire to work with animals and people. Prior to Top Tier K9 she worked at an Animal Hospital as a Kennel and Vet Tech. As well as PetSmart where she was a Professional Dog Groomer and Pet Trainer.

Ms. Browning started her journey with Top Tier K9 as a student in the Pet and Foundation Dog Trainer courses in the fall of 2019. She was recommended to the Top Tier K9 School by a friend and Top Tier K9 Affiliate, Amy Crocker, who had completed the school previously and was successfully operating her own dog training business.


Ms. Browning certified in the Pet Trainer course in the late fall of 2019 and took a job with Top Tier K9 as a Pet Trainer. After successfully certifying from the Foundation Dog course in February 2020 she became one of Top Tier K9's Foundation Dog® Trainers and started working toward her Master Dog Trainer certification. Her first task was to finish her British Labrador Retriever she took through the Foundation Dog course as a Service Dog for a disabled veteran under the guidance of Jeff Minder, the CEO and Founder of Top Tier K9. Ms. Browning earned her Master Dog Certification in August 2020.


Madison Stafford

Lead Pet and Foundation Dog® Trainer


Madison Arrived in July 2022 to begin her internship.  Madison hails from Northern Washington and is greatly enjoying her time learning to care for and train dogs in our Academy for Dog Trainers.

Madison is a certified pet trainer and certified Foundation Dog® trainer  Madison has completed the Service Dog Masters program and is currently enrolled in the Protection Dog Masters Class.

Madison has become an amazing dog trainer and enjoys training dogs and their owners at our Tallahassee and Madison Facilities.

Brian Minder



Mr. Minder is certified in the following Top Tier K9 programs: Service Dog Trainer, Safe Catch Decoy and Instructor. Mr. Minder and his Service K9, Sapper earned a rare 100% score on the SCH/IPOI track. ​


Mr. Minder is a decorated US Army combat veteran serving with honor and distinction in Iraq. He was a member of the 82nd Airborne and also served as a Combat Engineer with the 1st Cavalry Division. ​


Mr. Minder is responsible for our Service Dog Training Program where he provides Foundation Dog® training support for the Top Tier K9 civilian and government customers. He also assists in Top Tier K9's helper and decoy evaluations along with training in our protection program. Mr. Minder is also responsible for Top Tier K9's IED identification and avoidance program, bringing what he learned on the battlefield in Iraq to the classroom at Top Tier K9.


Jim Hayes

Certified Safe Catch Decoy and Trainer


Mr. Hayes travels 3 hours round trip every Saturday in support of our Foundation Dog® training program and to provide helper/decoy services to our students and customers.

Mr. Hayes is the President of the Andersonville Theological Seminary and has a Doctorates in Theology along with a PHD in Religious Studies. Mr. Hayes also taught in the religious studies program at Florida State University.

On weekends, Mr. Hayes puts on his custom fitted bite suit and improves the bite and disposition of each dog he works with. He provides invaluable insight and counsel to everyone who attends our school, our weekend training programs and seminars.

Duane Pickel

Sr. Fellow and Advisor


Mr. Pickel is considered by many to be one of the top dog trainers in the world. He holds 25 AKC titles and has trained 3 bloodhounds at the AKC Utility level. Anyone who understands Utility and bloodhounds recognizes what that would require. ​


Mr. Pickel was the first person to train a dog to indicate on human cancer cells. "George" was an amazing Schnauzer who won over 400 obedience awards. Read about it here ​ Mr. Pickel is a Vietnam combat veteran. He was a dog handler and scout during the war participating in many search and rescue operations.


Mr. Pickel ran the Tallahassee FL Police Department K9 unit for decades and wrote the book for trainer and handler certifications within the state of Florida. Mr. Pickel assists Top Tier K9 in all areas of training and conducts seminars for Top Tier K9 on scent detection and advanced training principles. Mr. Pickel is also the Commander of the VFW Post 3308 in Tallahassee, FL.


Julie Madison


Ms. Madison is the Deployment Coordinator for the Covid-19 detection
dogs. She is a Top Tier K9 Certified Pet Trainer and working in the Foundation Dog program.

Ms. Madison was a Swim Coach prior to joining our team. After
attending the business bootcamp, she decided to focus her high energy,
positivity, and passion for people and dogs to help deploy Covid-19
dogs into the community.

Julie operates out of Tampa Florida and will be assisting Top Tier K9 in the development and exposure of all of our programs throughout Tampa and the surrounding communities.

Kari Koch

Sr Fellow and Advisor


Ms. Koch is a Sr. Fellow and advisor for Top Tier K9s Academy for Dog Trainers.

Ms. Koch is a Summa Cum Laude Master Graduate of The Tom Rose School (TRS) and served as their Business Coordinator and Director of Training for 6 years before joining the Top Tier K9 team. Ms. Koch’s experience includes AKC, PSA (Protection Sports Association), Schutzhund as well as dog training and handler team training. She exhibits in AKC and PSA where she competes at the National level, and has professionally trained over 4,500 dogs of all breeds and ages.


Ms. Koch is an approved AKC CGC (Canine Good Citizen) evaluator and brings over 30 years of experience in training, sales, and marketing in the pet industry from one of the top kennels in the country. She is a major supporter of many rescue groups, having rehabilitated over 350 dogs thus far in her successful career.


Chris O'Brian

Sr. Fellow and Advisor


Mr. O’Brian holds many Top Tier K9 certifications including Pet Trainer, Foundation Dog Trainer, and Safe Catch Decoy. He is also an Instructor for the TTK9 School for Dog Trainers, assisting in the Service Dog and Police K9 training programs .

Mr. O’Brian has dedicated many years of his service to the Madison County Sheriff's Office. He was in charge of running their K9 unit for 3 years with his K9 partner, Onyx.

Mr. O’Brian finished his Foundation Dog, Rex as a Service dog for a deserving Veteran. In late June 2020 Mr. O’Brian joined our Top Tier K9 team full time as a Pet and Foundation Dog Trainer. He also continues to assist in our Service and Police K9 training programs.

The Shield



The Cracked Bell symbolizes liberty, specifically those values that are central to the American ethos: freedom from oppression over our way of life, political views, and personal expression. 



The Crossed Knife and Rifle

symbolize survival and defense, and our legacy as proud veterans of America’s armed forces.



The Shield itself symbolizes protection, the primary function of the professional canine



The Dog symbolizes those qualities we most admire in professional canines: loyalty, vigilance, endurance and strength. 



The Compass symbolizes direction and orientation, keeping us focused and clear with our mission. 

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