About Top Tier K9

Top Tier K9 teaches you how to train dogs and to train the dog's owner.  We teach you how to start your own dog training business.  Our programs cover basic pet training, advanced pet training, working dog, and service dog training. We also train pets, service dogs, protection dogs, and Police K9 at our training locations in Florida and Georgia.


Learn to train a dog in basic obedience, advanced obedience, bomb detection, narcotics detection, tracking, search and rescue, protection and even service dogs for people with disabilities.  Learn to manage projects and start your own business.  


Our programs have been designed for people who desire to train dogs, but don't want to quit their jobs or move away to a dog training school in a different state.  Our program is without peer and you will learn more about dog training and about starting your own business at Top Tier K9 than at any other dog training school or business school in the country.

We train people to be true entrepreneurs who provide the highest levels of quality and integrity in the dog training industry and reap the rewards for taking the risks that so few are willing to do.  We help our students live the American dream.

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

CEO and Founder


Mr. Minder is a Master Dog Trainer, who 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®.


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 privately owned business in the world to successfully train dogs how to hunt and indicate on Covid 19. Mr. Minder has poured his heart and soul into his company and continues to focus on the scope for his business.

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. Mr. Minder has worked extremely hard to apply professionalism within this unregulated industry leading the way for his students and employees.

Mr. Minder is an award winning teacher and entrepreneur with degrees in computer science, mathematics, teaching 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 project manager, Mr. Minder has worked with several of the world’s largest and most successful companies.


Mr. Minder continues to maintain the required training and education to uphold his Project Manager Professional (PMP) certification along with other certs and titles. As a teacher, he has applied his unique approach on project management and business analysis through organizations and universities across the United States to thousands of students. While his life has gone to the dogs in the most recent years 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!


Kari Koch

Director of Operations


Ms. Koch is the Director of Operations of Top Tier K9. She is an instructor in our Pet Training Program and our Working Dog Trainer Program.

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.

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.

Duane Pickel

Sr. Fellow and Instructor


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.


Chris O'Brian

Master Trainer and Instructor


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.


Alyssa Browning

Certified Master Trainer and Certified Instructor


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.


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.


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.


Sarah Tippette


Sarah Tippette grew up in Dade City, FL on a family farm and has been around animals her entire life. She took 4 years of Veterinary Assisting program while in high school and worked for a local Veterinarian in Pasco county FL as a kennel technician. Once out of high school she attended Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton, GA and now Attends St. Petersburg College where she is working towards her Bachelors degree in Veterinary technology and has been working as a Veterinary Technician for almost 5 years. She enjoys hunting, fishing, and being outdoors and spending time with her two children, and GSP bird dog named Birdie. 

Sarah provides Veterinary technician services for Top Tier K9 in support of our pet training program and to help maintain the quality of care for our inventory of Foundation Dogs and COVID-19 detection dogs.

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.