Meet Your Dog Trainer

    Top Paw Training was founded by Alison Swift. It's been her passion and goal to help spread effective dog behavior knowledge through Top Paw Training's services so that each dog can become well-trained for a life well-lived. 

Alison Swift
Professional Credentials and Background Experience

    Growing up with household pets, livestock, and horses meant understanding and communicating with animals was an everyday occurrence for Alison. Folks often comment how "she is always listening to what the animal is saying" and adjusting the conversation so that there's a win-win, rather than forcing an agenda of commands.
    While working as a veterinary technician, her experiences from training her own animals began to directly influence the exam room interactions with clients about their pet's misbehavior. A shift was made from veterinary medicine interests to animal behavior- and it's been her passion to help others with their pet's behavior ever since. She's been professionally training dogs since 2007 and shares her life with her two dogs, three cats, two fish and two horses- all spoiled rotten, but obedient. 
  • International Association of Canine Professionals (IACP) Professional member #p 6654
  • Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) former Professional Member
  • Continuing-education seminars in behavior concepts, competitive sports in classrooms, hands-on, online.
  • 3 years of Veterinary Assistant and Technician experience with large and small animals, plus 2 years of observation.
  • 2 years of group Obedience Instruction (2004 Accredited PetSmart Dog Training Instructor)
  • Equestrian sport competitor (endurance, competitive trail, drill team, barrel racing, team penning)
  • Animal Training and Husbandry practices includes cats, horses, cattle, sheep, goats, wildlife and wildbird rehab, in addition to canines.
  • Former officer/member FFA for show goats and beef cattle program and 4-H member.
    Clients appreciate Alison’s common sense approach and easy integration of dog handling skills into your daily life. Quality references upon request. Alison is recommended by several local veterinarians and pet businesses.

    When not training her student dogs, Alison trains her dog for nosework sports, is training her horse for endurance competition, and enjoys hiking with her family.
    Her supportive husband and creative son are always helpful and having fun with the dogs by practicing their commands and taking photography to display training techniques and the beauty of our canine companions. 
    "I'm thrilled to be able to live my passion- and it's my pleasure to help you gain peace and obedience from your dogs."  Gratefully, your dog trainer, Alison

    Experience with so many different dogs within a wide range of behaviors and temperaments have shaped Alison's unique skill-set. To learn more about Alison's approach, technique, methods and tools used while training dogs, please read "How I Train Dogs."

Alison's Continuing Education & Events:
- Intro to Psychiatric Service Dog Task Training - Aug 2014
- Remote Collar Myths and Proper Use, 8 hrs, by Dave Kroyer - Dec 2012
- AKC Advanced Obedience Seminar III, 8 hrs, by Dave Kroyer - Aug 2012
- Myths of Aggression Revealed Seminar, 8 hrs, by Dave Kroyer - July 2012
- Beginner Agility Technique, 6 hrs, by Kara Hungerford, Canine Headquarters - April 2012
- Proper Jump Technique for Dog Sports, 8 hrs, by Dave Kroyer & Gary Brown - March 2012
- Science-Based Dog Training 3-Day Seminar, 20 hrs, by Ian Dunbar - March 2012, Topics: Not Wasting Puppyhood, Learning Theory Redux - Binary Verbal Feedback, Offleash Lure-Reward Training 
- Full Member of Association of Pet Dog Trainers (educational network) since 2012
- Duck-Dogs: Real-Life Retrievers (waterfowl retrievers) by Debra Lee from Rave Retrievers - Jan 2012
- AKC Obedience Seminar II, 8hrs, by Dave Kroyer - Dec 2011
- K9 Nosework Sport/Scent Detection Seminar, 8 hrs, by Dave Kroyer - Sept 2011
- AKC Obedience Seminar I, 8hrs by Dave Kroyer - Feb 2011
- Professional Member of Behavior Education Network (educational network) since 2011
- Competitive Dock Diving Intro Class, 8hrs by Kirsten Salvito - July 2010
... and more

Education, Experience and Skillset:

Accreditation Program via PetSmart - 2004
Canine Ethology, Advanced Behavior Studies, Learning Theory : all that science-y stuff
Canine and Animal Psychology: Understanding the differences between how animals think 
and act vs humans.
Operant Conditioning (Instrumental Learning/Cause & Effect): giving consequences after behaviors to strengthen or weaken behaviors
Classical (Associative) Conditioning: pairing neutral triggers with reflexes to form automatic habits
Clicker and Marker training, positive, motivational techniques, real life application
Food and Play/Toy Rewards : proper use, fading, best kinds, health options, 
Problem Behavior Evaluation and Solving: barking, jumping, counter surfing, pulling, separation anxiety, chewing
Various Training Techniques and Methods: targeting, free shaping, molding, luring, escape-avoidance, other
Temperament Testing, purpose based and pet
Puppy raising and development schedules for proper temperament development
Housebreaking and accident prevention for puppies and adult dogs
Using Drives (prey, defense, fight, hunt etc.) to train and motivate for protection sports, hunting, herding and pet use.
Aggression (causes, treatments, management)"Shy", timid and phobic dog training
Fear aggression, desensitization and counter-conditioning
Dog-to-Dog Aggression rehabilitation, management
Compulsive behavior modification: neurotic breed/dog management
Identifying problem dogs: genetic temperament or learned habits and management
"Reading" and explaining dog behavior and communication: dog language
Dog sports activities/exercise outlets (agility, hunting, tracking, protection, nosework, search and rescue etc.)
Training for all sizes and types of dogs: toy-sized dogs to giant breeds
Functional Obedience; service dogs, therapy dogs: turning lights on/off, open doors, pick up object, mobility support, pulling wheelchair
General and specific handling skills: leash holding, jerk/pressure corrections, voice use, body positions, treat feeding, body language
Dog Adoption counseling and preparation, picking a dog, pairing with other family dogs and members, activity levels.
Breed specific knowledge and experience
K9 NoseWork and Scent Games: tracking, targeting, Dave and Karen Kroyer-specific scent detection training system.
Equipment use and misuse (training and remote collars, harnesses, leashes, clickers, etc) 
Dealing with difficult people: effective verbal communication skills, active listening & empathetic understanding
Responsible dog ownership: law and ethical approach and advice
Veterinary Staff Instruction- Safe Dog Handling and Restraint
I Adhere to Professional Code of Ethics and Standards of Dog Trainers, Delta Society

Dog Breeds I've Trained:
Heinz-57 Mixed Mutts of all sorts...
Basset Hounds
Yorkshire Terriers
Catahoula Leopard Dog s
German Shepherds
Belgian Malinois
Dutch Shepherd
Doberman Pinscher 
Cocker Spaniel
Silky Terrier
English Bulldog
Labrador Retriever
South African Boerboel

Cane Corso, Italian Mastiff
Flat Coated Retrievers
Blue/Red Heeler, Queensland Heeler, Australian Heeler
Border ColliesChow-Chows
American Pit Bull Terrier
Staffordshire Terrier
St. Bernard

American Bulldogs
Great Danes
Bull Terriers
Terrier- mixes

Wolf Hybrids
Standard Schanuzer
Jack Russell Terriers
Miniature Australian Shepherd
Standard Poodle
Golden Retriever
German Shorthaired Pointer
French Bulldog
Rat Terrier
English Pointer
Irish Setter
Shetland Sheepdog
English Mastiff
Miniature Goldendoodle
Redbone Coonhound
Bluetick Coonhound
Blue Lacy
Old English Sheepdog

Black Russian Terrier
Rhodesian Ridgeback
Bernese Mountain Dog
Black Mouth Cur
Bearded Collie

And I can train your dog too... 

To schedule your session call Alison at 830-557-7026 or email