Our experienced instructors absolutely love training and teaching.  We are proud of our team’s diverse knowledge base, which includes puppy socialization and development, good manners, play behavior, aggression and reactivity, tricks, agility, disc, nose work, conformation, and competitive obedience.  Our team includes two Certified Professional Dog Trainers, and collectively we have over six decades of experience helping clients and their dogs reach their goals.  We train using easy to understand methods based on up-to-date science about how dogs learn.  No rough stuff here.  We believe in being nice to dogs and their people.

Kelly Elvin

Kelly Elvin is the founder of TipTopTails Dog Training. Kelly has been coaching people and their dogs for over 20 years, and before that she practiced law for 10 years. She is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer-Knowledge Assessed, a professional member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, and a long-time board member and volunteer for Al-Van Humane Society. Kelly also teaches the dog*biz Dog Walking Academy in Michigan, coaching professional dog walkers, pet sitters and dog daycare wranglers on the skills to handle dogs safely and run a business successfully.

Kelly believes that the primary goal of dog training is to have a dog you enjoy being around, so her training emphasizes practical skills for everyday life.  She has a strong interest in early training and socialization to help puppies reach their full potential, and developed our innovative Puppy Day School program with her husband Matt.  Kelly has titled dogs in tricks, rally obedience, and agility, and enjoys training her own dogs for fun in agility, disc, tricks and nose work.  In her free time, Kelly likes reading British mysteries, cooking, and hanging out on their farm with Matt, their dogs Hemi, Tonka and Wags, and their cat, Colby Jack.

Matt Elvin

Matt Elvin has been a certified Missing Animal Response Technician since 2007 and offered lost pet recovery services after training a dog to search for lost cats. He studied under Kat Albrecht, founder of Missing Pet Partnership (MPP), and served on MPP’s Board of Directors for three years. Before becoming a dog trainer, Matt practiced law for 14 years.

Matt has been teaching nose work classes since 2011 and enjoys helping dogs develop their natural scenting abilities and build confidence through nose work. Matt also helped develop and teaches TipTopTails’ innovative Puppy Day School program, and is an instructor for the dog*biz Dog Walking Academy, coaching professional dog walkers, pet sitters, and dog daycare wranglers on the skills to handle dogs safely and to run a business successfully.  When he is not training dogs, Matt enjoys building and fixing things, reading science fiction, and hanging out on the farm with Kelly, their dogs Hemi, Tonka and Wags, and their cat, Colby Jack.

Holly

Holly O’Brien

Holly O’Brien has 11 years of experience working with clients and their dogs. Holly believes everyone has their idea of the “perfect dog,” and she loves helping clients to get their perfect dog with her gentle and effective training methods.  She is particularly interested in working with dogs with reactivity and other behavior issues, and is the lead instructor for our Reactive Rover class.

In October 2019, Holly attained the prestigious title of Certified Dog Behavior Consultant from the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, after submitting multiple behavior case studies for peer review and demonstrating competency in several core areas, including a thorough understanding of animal behavior, the science of learning and behavior modification, and critical thinking and reasoning in performing client assessments and developing behavior modification plans. As a CDBC, Holly specializes in the prevention, management, and modification of challenging behaviors in dogs.

Holly also is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer-Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA), a Canine Good Citizen evaluator, and a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and the Pet Professional Guild. She attends professional education seminars regularly to stay current on dog training and behavior so she can help her students achieve their goals. When she isn’t training dogs, Holly enjoys spending time with her husband, their little girls Jocelyn and Savannah, and their dogs Lucy and Rosalind.

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Courtney Knewtson

Courtney Knewtson is wholeheartedly dedicated to furthering her knowledge of dog training and behavior.  She began her training career by assisting with Reactive Rover classes, and has since added puppy classes, adult good manners classes, and Puppy Day School to her teaching repertoire. She is our technology wizard and makes sure our training videos look great!  Courtney also is a wrangler at Camp Fido Dog Daycare.

In her free time, Courtney enjoys spending time with her husband, hiking with her dog Auri, fostering cats and dogs, photography, and Dungeons & Dragons.

Jessica Cefai

Jessica Cefai loves to help her clients and their dogs learn new skills and build stronger relationships through teamwork. Jess has taught agility, puppy, good manners, and tricks classes for 10 years, and has successfully competed with her dog in agility, dock jumping, and disc.

Jess also is a wrangler at Camp Fido Dog Daycare and has extensive experience in dog-dog interactions and play behavior. She earned a B.S. in Zoology from Michigan State University, and worked as a zookeeper at Potter Park Zoo, where she was responsible for the enrichment and behavioral training of the river otters and assisted in training exercises with the Black Rhinos and Amur Tigers.

Jess is a talented artist who enjoys creating hand-drawn and painted pet portraits from photographs. In her free time, Jess likes to relax with her husband and their Cattle Dog/Rat Terrier mix Bart.

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Becki Vander Weele

Becki Vander Weele’s dog training career began when she was 12 years old and started showing dogs in 4-H. To this day, competitive obedience is her favorite dog sport, and she also trains her dogs in nose work, conformation, rally, and bikejoring.

Becki brings her lifelong passion for dogs and training to her SuperDog dog sports foundation classes, and continually seeks out new and creative training ideas to share with her students. She also is an AKC Canine Good Citizen evaluator. Outside of the training classroom, Becki has been a professional pet groomer for 21 years. She shares her life with her golden retrievers Darby and Ani and her beagle Bria.

Beth Anglemyer

Beth Anglemyer is a very dedicated dog trainer and instructor. Starting in the Pee Wee showmanship program offered by the Australian Shepherd Dog Club of America, Beth has grown to develop a passion for not only training her own dogs, but also helping people learn how to train their dogs. Beth’s passion for helping others with their dogs started with being a Junior leader in the Cass County 4-H dog program. Beth has also enjoyed teaching public and private Obedience and Rally classes. Growing up in 4-H and dog sports, Beth enjoys training and competing in a variety of activities including Conformation, Agility, Obedience, Rally Obedience, Dock Jumping, Disc, and Weight Pull.

Beth uses shaping and positive motivation to encourage dogs to work with and learn from their owners. It is her goal to not have every dog and handler team at the same level, but to have every dog and handler team at a level of understanding and working together to fit their individual needs. Beth says her favorite part about teaching is when you can see the connection build to that final “click” when the communication between the owner and dog becomes clear. When not teaching you can find Beth hanging out with her aussies or in her kayak.

Carolyn Dostal

Carolyn Dostal has been teaching classes since 1991 and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to her students. Carolyn is an agility judge for UKC and CPE, and a Certified Nose Work Instructor through the National Association of Canine Scent Work. She has shown and titled dogs in UKC obedience, UKC agility, NADAC agility, USDAA agility, CPE agility, obedience, rally, conformation and nose work. Her dog Jodi was the first border terrier to be titled in AKC agility, and her beagles Miller and Pete currently compete in nose work, agility and conformation.

Carolyn loves to make learning fun and motivating for dogs and handlers. Her enthusiasm for dog sports is contagious, and many of her students have successfully competed in agility and nose work, but she is equally happy teaching students who simply enjoy taking classes with their dogs.

Karina Shaughnessy

Karina Shaughnessy is an avid disc dogger who enjoys introducing dogs and their owners to the world of canine frisbee.  Karina believes that disc is the perfect way to build your relationship with your dog, help your dog develop impulse control and confidence, keep your dog in tip-top shape, and of course have fun!

Tamiko and Rudy

Tamiko Rehagen

Tamiko has had a passion for dogs all her life, but really embraced training and dog behavior when she rescued her three pit bull mixes.  Tamiko is particularly interested in working with kids and teaching them how to care for, play with, and respect their dogs and other dogs they meet.  She has two young children who have been around rescue and foster dogs their whole lives. In her free time, Tamiko participates in disc competitions and dabbles in agility, nosework, and other dog sports.  Two of Tamiko’s dogs are also certified therapy dogs, and she volunteers in local school and library reading programs in which kids read to the dogs. In addition to dog related activities, she enjoys spending time with her husband, kids, and her other pets including her rambunctious tortoise.