Carolyn Smith, a licensed veterinary technician and certified master dog trainer, has been breeding dogs on and off for the last 17 years. She started out breeding, training and competing with her Cane Corsos. When she attended the Tom Rose School for dog trainers in High Ride, MO, she met several Labs that forever changed her opinion about the breed. The puppy in the picture below is one of her foundation dogs named Dexter.
She and Dex had quite a few trials and tribulations their first two years together, but he now has a place in Carolyn's heart that can be filled by no other. Her original plan for Dexter was that he excel in competitive obedience and be her demo dog for her dog training business; however, a knee injury at a young age sidelined him for several months, costing them valuable time during the imprinting window.
As she shifted her plan for Dexter, she was fascinated watching his natural instincts develop and realized she was wasting his potential. This sparked her interest in learning how to hone those natural instincts, ultimately leading her into the joyous black hole that is bird dog training. Carolyn hasn't looked back ever since!
Her love and appreciation for Dexter led her to spend countless hours researching pedigrees and breeders to find other Labs similar to him. She knew she wanted to get back into breeding, and was totally smitten with this British Labrador retriever. This breeding program has been over 5 years in the making, with the first litter born in September, 2017. While on this journey to constantly better her breeding and puppy raising practices, Carolyn discovered a program called Puppy Culture. Please check out the Puppy Raising Practices page (linked below as well) to learn more about how we raise our puppies.
As a licensed veterinary technician, Carolyn also understands the value and importance of genetic testing and health screening. All of her dogs are extensively health tested, the results of which can be found on their individual pages. Actual copies of the paperwork are available upon request.
Breeding, genetics, and raising/training puppies are Carolyn's passion. She's always happy to answer any questions about her practices or her dogs. Thanks for taking a look around our website! Please don't hesitate to reach out to learn more about our dogs, puppies, litters and breeding practices.
Dexter @ 8 weeks
In January, 2014, Carolyn decided to turn her passion for dog training into a career. She attended the Tom Rose School in St. Louis, Missouri, where she graduated from both the Professional and Master Dog Trainer programs. While in the Professional Trainer program, Carolyn accomplished something very few students in the history of the school have been able to do. She achieved an excellent rating, also known as a “V”-rating, in the program. This means she passed all of her graduation requirements with an overall average of 96% or better. Those requirements included multiple written tests, pet obedience requirements, and working dog/competition training requirements. This is an extremely difficult rating to achieve in general, and Carolyn did it in 21 weeks. She also excelled in the Master Trainer program where she furthered her knowledge of tracking, specific odor detection, advanced obedience, cadaver detection, and search and rescue.
To date, Carolyn has trained well over 2,000 dogs, the majority of which have had serious behavioral issues. She has a soft spot for working with insecure, fearful dogs who gain a new lease on life through an intensive training and behavior modification program. Carolyn enjoys helping clients learn how to clearly and effectively communicate with their dogs, increase their knowledge of dog behavior, and help them find the same joy she feels with a well trained dog in her life.
If she isn't breeding and training dogs, Carolyn also teaches the health and nutrition courses for Top Tier K9's Academy for Dog Trainers. Check out this link to learn more about TTK9, and everything we have to offer. She enjoys teaching new trainers all she can about how to provide the highest quality of care for the dogs they're in charge of. She is also helping to start TTK9's breeding program for Belgian Malinois, Dutch Shepherds, and German Shepherds.
In 2018, Carolyn was approached by a film producer to supply an upcoming film with a dog. Her Malinois "Ice" landed several scenes in an award winning horror film titled "The Wretched." The two of them had a blast on the set, and are very appreciative for the experience!
In 2019, Carolyn was nominated for, and won, the Simply The Best -Trainer Award through the Record Eagle in Traverse City, Michigan. She appreciates the support of the community which has allowed her business to grow more rapidly than she could've imagined! At the end of August, 2020, Carolyn closed down her business in Maple City, MI in order to relocate to Lexington, KY.
Another one of Carolyn's passions is helping veterans through training service dogs for them. As a veteran of the US Army herself, she understands the invaluable resource and asset a well trained service dog can be. Carolyn serves on the board of directors for Forgotten Coast K9, a 501c3 providing training and service dogs for veterans and first responders in need. It is estimated that an average of 22 veterans a day commit suicide. At Forgotten Coast K9 our mission is to help lower that number through honoring and empowering these men and women who served our countries and our communities. Check out this link to find out more about this organization, and please consider donating to our cause!
Currently, the Smith Pack includes two Belgian Malinois, fourteen British Labrador Retrievers, one English Bulldog, and a Great Dane.
Carolyn and Ice with director Brett Pierce at the Traverse City Film Festival premiere of the Pierce brother's movie, "The Wretched."
Check out this video of Carolyn
This video features Carolyn working with her two Belgian Malinois, Ice and Nikki. At the time of filming, Ice was approximately 10 months old and Nikki was close to 8 months old. This short film showcases several of the many skills Carolyn is capable of teaching a dog. Enjoy!