Top Tier K9 Review [2024 Upd.] Good & Bad At the Same Time

Last Updated on July, 2024

“A dog is a man’s best friend,” but a trained dog is a better companion.

Training a dog is a complicated task, especially because different dogs are at different levels of competencies.

At the same time, choosing a reliable trainer or training institute adds to the complication because you have to consider many factors regarding training methods, training background, duration, cost, and many more. 

On that note, if you are considering the Top Tier K9 and want to know what you’ll gain from it, here’s a review that will guide you through everything you need to know. This review will help you decide if the Top Tier K9 is what you are looking for.

The Good

At Top Tier K9, you and your dog go through training to ensure you effectively maintain the training your dog received.

The Not So Good

Although you are kept in the loop on your dog’s training, the dog doesn’t necessarily learn from you. Also, basing the teaching method only on voice/verbal commands isn’t effective for reliable dog communication. Plus, they only offer board and train options.

The Bottom Line

I wouldn’t recommend Top Tier K9 if you are looking for an option that uses a reliable mode of communication that’s proven effective with dogs. Instead, I propose the K9 Training Institute, developed by an extraordinary expert team who can communicate reliably with dogs. (Check ‘Better Alternative’ for more information)

An Overview of the Top Tier K9 Training

Top tier K9 is one of the world’s top dog trainers’ and dog training schools.

Top tier K9 was established in 2014 by CEO and founder Jeff Minder, a master dog trainer, a certified project manager (PMP), and an award-winning teacher.

He specializes in advanced puppy imprinting, known as the Foundation Dog® Program.

He went through legal and federal processes to gain the trademark for Foundation Dog®.

He is also the inventor of the world’s first virtual reality dog training center.

top tier k9 logo

Top tier K9 rose to fame in the dog training industry through the creation of the Foundation Dog®, the groundbreaking work in training the first Covid-19 detection dogs, and the creation and launch of the world’s first Virtual Reality Dog Training center.

Behind top-tier K9 is a talented group of top dog trainers, industry experts, certified master and professional dog trainers, decorated combat veterans, and award-winning business leaders and teachers.

Stretched across a few locations in Florida, Blackwater Bay, and Indiana, top-tier K9 has around 9 certified locations. 

Although top tier K9 is also an academy that trains and certifies dog trainers, I will only focus on the dog training aspect of the academy.

Let’s dig deeper to see how it works!

Training Courses By Top Tier K9

top tier k9 courses

At top-tier K9, dog training follows the ‘board and train’ system. Based on the needs of the customers, they also allow scalability. Not only do they train your dog, but they also train you and your family.

Featuring fully insured secure facilities, trained and certified dog trainers, and veterinary technicians as staff, top tier K9 is fully equipped to handle the ‘board and train’ situation.

Top-tier K9 does not have a vast offering of training programs for your dog. It’s just one basic training program that can be adjusted based on your dog’s attitude.

Pet Training Program 

This is the basic board and train pet training program offered by top-tier K9. This program is a 3-week foundation with the option of a 4th-week add-on based on your additional needs related to your dog’s temper or other behaviors.

Pet Plus Program 

This is the program that creates a Foundation dog. You and your dog should have gone through the basic pet training program to be eligible for this program. This takes up to 20 weeks in 4 phases of training.

This program focuses on creating a special operations warrior dog. Foundation dog training is accomplished by setting an advanced training goal: tracking, scent detection, protection, or advanced obedience that you want your dog to perform.

Considerations Before Signing Up for Top Tier K9 Training

A human training a dog

Before you decide on any dog training program, it’s important that you do your research to understand how these programs from various centers work. Different training academies take different approaches.

Some you may be agreeable with and some you may not. One such important consideration to make is the teaching method implemented in the program.

Teaching Methods Used

At top tier K9 not only does your dog go through training, you as the owner are also put through a training process while your dog is training.

Top tier K9 uses a science based balanced approach to train your dog. The base of the training is set on getting your dog to respond to voice commands.

After your dog positively responds and reciprocates with all the voice commands, off-leash obedience will be brought in. And later at the end of training hand signals and/or different languages can be introduced if required.

Things to Keep in Mind if You Want to Buy a Course

  • This is a one-to-one training program lead by trained and certified dog trainers
  • This is a board and train program, so you have to be ready to send your dog away
  • The training involves you so you have to be able to be hands-on
  • They handle all pets with all-problems
  • The training is centered around a balanced approach to teach the dog and a comprehensive approach to teach the owners 
  • The goal of the program is to deliver a dog that desires to please the owner
  • You will be taught on how to maintain the training your dog received

Inside Top Tier K9 Training

Inside Top Tier K9 Training

Training Techniques

Timing, motivation, and consistency are the essential elements of dog training. Backing that up, top tier K9 revolve their pet training on a science-based balanced approach using rewards and corrections as necessary.

Most importantly, top-tier K9 teaches you how to maintain the training your dog received. 

At top-tier K9, your dog is taught to respond to voice commands, not body language.

Top tier K9 reasons this out using a scenario example where when your dog is in a fight or is chasing a vehicle or is being chased, it’s highly likely your dog will not be looking at you, so getting to respond to body language is not practical, hence the use of voice commands. 

Later, when your dog comprehends verbal commands, hand signals and other languages can be integrated into the training. 

Pet Training

The basic pet training program introduces you and your dog to a communication system during the initial training period.

Through this communication system, 5 commands are taught in the first two weeks. And this sets the stage for the process of building duration to your dog’s obedience.

Some of the commands include sit, down, climb, heel, come when called (recall), and out (or drop it).

Avoiding dangerous objects and situations is also taught to you and your dog, eventually leading to heeling on a leash for long walks. 

a human training a dog

Plus, the add-on week will focus on curbing your dog’s bad behaviors like aggression and history of biting to achieve off-leash capabilities employing the most humane training methods available.

Creating a Foundation Dog® involves 4 phases of training over a 20-week duration.

Throughout the first 3 phases, your dog will go through an extensive training period where over 50 elements rolling into 4 functions: Obedience, Tracking, Scent work, and Protection are imprinted.

And phase 4 is when your dog enters scenario training as a finished dog.

Top Tier K9 in the Metaverse

Top tier K9 has launched the world’s first Virtual Reality Dog Training Center.

Using an Oculus/Meta-compliant VR headset, you can enter the top-tier K9’s Madison, Florida, training room to practice commands, rewards, and corrections on a virtual dog.

The available commands are climb, heel, sit, down and come.

This program gives you exposure and practice so that you understand the training basics for you to use on your real dog proficiently.

This will also ensure that an actual canine is not negatively affected based on assumed training methods.

Top Tier K9 Metaverse


The basic board and train dog training program costs around $600 per week. So based on the duration you choose, 3 or 4 weeks, the total cost will fall between $2000 and $3000 on basic dog training.

The price can be way over-budget for some of you, so I will introduce you to a cost-effective alternative that I know will surely deliver superb results.

If you are a pet parent willing to board your pet for the training duration and get hands-on involved in your pet’s training weekly, then top-tier K9 is worth being on your list of considerations.

Also, to make payments more affordable, top-tier K9 does offer installment payments. But I’d recommend waiting until you hear about my alternative to help you gain clarity. 

Customer Testimonials

Below is the social proof illustrating the different customer experiences. Although some customers have rated the Top-tier K9 5- stars with positive reviews, some customers have gone through negative experiences too. 

Top Tier K9 Customer Testimonial 1
Top Tier K9 Customer Testimonial 2
Top Tier K9 Customer Testimonial 3

Review Wrap-Up: Would I Recommend Top Tier K9 Training?

I firmly believe in establishing a clear authority figure for my dog. And based on my research, dogs do need an authority figure to tell them what to do.

And this is what top tier K9 promises to deliver- “A balanced approach to dog training teaching the dog to desire to please the owner.” And it got my attention.

Also, I would like to mention that I am not a fan of boarding my dog anywhere, not even during vacations.

But I anyways went ahead and gave top-tier K9 a shot because of the whole hype around training the pet owners while the dog is being trained.

a dog running on the ground and top tier k9 logo

Because that’s what I wanted at the end of the day; to learn how to handle my dog better.

My Canis Panther dog has some bad behaviors, like jumping, biting out of love, and a bit of aggression here and there.

So I choose the 4-week board and train option because, during the 4th week, top K9 claims to work on aggressive behaviors and off-leash capabilities. I mean, who doesn’t want an off-leash obedient dog?

Although I was reluctant to board him there, I was satisfied with the outcome. I witnessed the progress and improvements my dog made every week. He had learned most of his basic voice commands and responded to them very well. 

Top-tier K9 also managed to deliver an almost off-leash dog. Almost off-leash because he still gets excited at noises and certain sights on our off-leash walks. 

So to answer the question, “would I recommend the top tier K9?” I’d say No. I do not recommend it. Because for me personally, the voice commands weren’t sitting well with my dog. I felt like my dog was struggling to keep up with certain commands. 

When I researched this, I learned that dogs’ main form of communication is body language, including actions like tail wagging and eye-rolling. Then only comes voice communications like growls, barking, and whining. 

Maybe the lack of body language and more on voice commands contradicted what my dog is used to because even in practice at home, I naturally use a mix of body language and voice commands to communicate with my dog.


Trains the owner to maintain training and avoid using any wrong training methods
Offers both in-person and online learning opportunities for pet owners
Has a virtual dog training center


Uses voice commands and not body language
You have to board your dog to train
It does not offer a program variety, just basic dog training, and the comprehensive Foundation Dog program
Even the basic program cost is quite high
Your dog learns from the trainer and not from you

A Better Alternative to Consider?

Since I wanted to remedy my experience with the top-tier K9, I thoroughly investigated other alternatives I could find.

Especially those options that allow me to be hands-on involved in my dog’s training while using appropriate and reliable teaching methods that dogs generally can comprehend without any confusion.

This is when I came across K9 Training Institute, and to my surprise, guess what? It seemed to be free of charge.

Of course, I didn’t believe it but chose to pursue it because I got nothing to lose if it was free.

And you know what? IT WAS ACTUALLY FREE. I think I’m still surprised. 

K9TI logo

So if you are also looking for an option that will hands down deliver what you want, K9 TI is definitely worth your consideration.

What drew my attention towards the K9 TI was the team behind it and the teaching techniques employed (of course, that’s apart from the zero-dollar price tag).

The K9 TI was founded by Dr. Alex Diaz, an animal behaviorist with over 20 years of experience in the service dog industry. And who better to get advice from than an experienced animal behaviorist?

The K9 TI is an online institute that offers a free workshop video and a total transformation class. As opposed to top-tier K9, the K9 TI approached dog training on three key principles;

Free Workshop page of K9 Institute
  • Use of body language
  • Operant conditioning
  • Acknowledging that dogs need a task to do

The class is structured around video-based learning. In addition to whatever is made available through these detailed videos, you can seek the help of expert trainers for personal coaching.

You can clarify all your issues with your dog’s behavior and learn the best way to tackle them. 

By following the K9 TI class, you can access an extensive amount of information, including;

  • House training
  • Training to eliminate unwanted barking and alerting you to stranger’s presence
  • Training on commanding your dog to come back
  • Leash and loose leash walking
  • Tuning out distractions
  • Training to stop jumping and treat people calmly
  • Various body language commands
  • And much more

What better way to build a stronger bond with your dog than personally being hands-on involved in the process? And that’s exactly what the K9 TI is offering you!

Other dog training program reviews:

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, a balanced approach to dog training can be effective for every dog. It is a better way to promote long-term happiness and reliability in dogs than older methods, like compulsion and positive reinforcement alone, and helps owners communicate with their dogs more clearly and consistently.

To access the Top tier K9 virtual dog training center, you need a VR headset (Oculus, Quest 2, or Meta) and the app from the application store. Once you have downloaded, installed, and launched the app, you can follow the instructions to begin training your virtual dog.


Dog training is not a one-off teaching session that will stick with your dog for the rest of their lives. Just like humans, dogs also have to go through refresher courses and training upkeep sessions by their owners.

With the proper mode of communication and continuous practice, you also can achieve a dog that aims to please you.

And to achieve that, the K9TI is a worthy choice, especially with the course being free. You’ve got nothing to lose but your time to invest.

With the guidance from K9 TI, you also can work on your dog’s behavioral issues and general obedience at your own pace while giving your dog enough time to soak in all the newly learned skills.

Better Alternative
K9 Training Institute
k9 Training Institute logo
Ease of Training




Overall Score


The institute has a free online dog training workshop.
Training works well for both puppies and adult dogs.
The Master Class offers unlimited personal coaching for specialized training.
It is suitable for any type of dog with behavioral issues.
Get the FREE ACCESS valid until the end of July
The paid dog training program can be a bit expensive, but there is a free workshop too.

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Lauren Klein
Lauren Klein is a freelance writer who originally comes from rural Arkansas. She has a Canis Panther Dog Breed. She loves to visit pet training schools with her pet, and give her fair share of thoughts through IPetGuides.

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