Rocky Top K9. Dog training in Sevierville, TN

How it Started

Sandra Sudduth saw a need in the Sevier County community and in God’s timing, her passion for dog training turned into a business. That business, Rocky Top K9, has since become an asset to the community and serves Sevier County in a variety of ways.

It began as Sandra was out in the community training her own dogs. She captured the attention of others who continually asked if she was a dog trainer. As Sandra began helping friends and family, she became increasingly inspired by the freedom that training provided for dogs and their owners. 

“The freedom that the dogs get from the training is so phenomenal, for them and for us,” Sandra said as she spoke about the beginnings of her business. “My motivation to start was to share this with other people. We’re happy when we see the happiness that it brings to the people.”

Rocky Top K9 came to fruition when Sandra and her friend, Scottie Greene, decided to collaborate her business savvy with Scottie’s 30 years of dog training experience. He had been helping Sandra train her dog Kobi, who is the mascot of the company. Scottie impressed her with his talents as well as his military and police background. The veteran had many years in K9 training and handling as well as experience in the private sector. Scottie jumped on board as lead-trainer.

“He brought the knowledge,” Sandra simply stated as she recalled the beginning of their partnership.

The Rocky Top K9 Team

Rocky Top K9 dog training in East Tennessee

Sandra and Scottie began the company in 2019 and since then they have expanded to a team of five trainers. The team uses their gifts to make a difference in the lives of local families. Each member of the team is passionate about dogs, helping others, and giving back to their community. This winning combination makes Rocky Top K9 unstoppable in their mission to improve the quality of life for dogs and their owners.

Dog Training

Rocky Top K9 offers various levels of obedience training, and they hold classes in private and public places to simulate real-world experiences. This training can begin as early as five-months old. An initial consultation and evaluation are provided at no charge.

The team provides therapy dog training so that owners can take their dog to hospitals, nursing homes, and other places to help people. They also offer select service dog training for assistance with mobility support, PTSD, and other non-medical needs. Not all dogs are qualified for these programs; contact Sandra to learn more.

Behavior modification and agility training are just a few more examples of the expert training Rocky Top provides. The team can help with any need a dog owner may have. Beyond training, they also provide dog boarding services to continue fortifying the quality of life for graduated dogs and their owners.

Other Services from Rocky Top K9

Because training is actively happening on-site, Rocky Top K9 will only allow trained dogs from their program to be boarded with them. The trained dogs set good examples for the dogs currently going through training. Time spent during boarding acts as a refresher for the dogs who have graduated. This all creates a positive community atmosphere for all the dogs. This exclusive dog boarding option is a benefit to Rocky Top K9 clients and gives an extra layer of peace for owners when boarding their dogs.

Pets and owners who have completed their training programs are also invited to join the “Rocky Top K9 Dog Club.” They hold various monthly events such as hiking, jogging, and scent work. They also hold social events such as picnics, Jeep rides and social hours at local restaurants. The Dog Club is a great way to keep people engaged with their dogs after training. Rocky Top K9 also sells dog-safe products.

Giving Back

Rocky Top K9 is developing a new “Dog Safety Education” program for local kids. Sandra will introduce the program at Boyds Creek Elementary School, but it will be available to other pre-school and elementary students soon. The program will educate children on dog safety using a slide show, a fun and interactive presentation, and activities for the kids to take home and complete with their families.

Rocky Top K9 offers this free program to help families with young children learn about dog safety. Participants will learn how to interact with strange dogs and with their own dogs. They will also learn how to read a dog’s body language. The program addresses other key areas for keeping kids and dogs safe. Contact Sandra to schedule a free class.

Advice from Rocky Top K9

Sandra and the Rocky Top K9 team are a fountain of knowledge and they are committed to helping families with dogs, especially when introducing a new dog into the home. During our time with Sandra, she shared ways to ease the transition of bringing a new dog into the family.

Getting a Puppy

Sandra has some advice to share to those thinking of getting a puppy,

“Know what breed you’re getting,” Sandra stated. “You can’t make a heeler want to be a couch dog and watch tv with you. It needs a job; it has all that energy. You can’t change genetics.”

Sandra explained that during the process of selecting a new puppy, you should consider your lifestyle and what your household is like. It is important to choose a dog that compliments you. Rocky Top K9 can help you identify which breeds would be best for your lifestyle.

The first five months of a puppy’s life is all about learning its position in the pack, socializing, and learning about their environment. Rocky Top K9 offers classes to give puppies a head-start on training. After five months of age, they’re old enough for obedience training. 

Adopting a Dog

Rescuing a dog is a beautiful thing! Sandra and her team can help you and your new dog during the transition from a shelter to your home. Shelters are not natural environments, and they are stressful for the dog. As the dog’s new owner, you will only know what the shelter has been told. When you adopt a dog from a shelter, give them some time to relax, decompress, and get used to you. You can start training in just a few weeks.

“If you’ve rescued him, don’t feel sorry for your dog. You start their new life fresh,” Sandra recommended. “He doesn’t feel sorry for himself; he has a new place. He’s happy now; forget the past.”

Scottie has experience rescuing dogs to train for K9 service. During his time with the Greene County Sheriff’s Department, Scottie started their new K9 division.

“I am very happy to say that all four dogs trained solely by me were rescues pulled from pounds all over the country and passed all certifications with NADDA as dual-purpose police K9s,” Scottie said.

Shelters help save dogs of any age and breed. There are no age restrictions on dog training, and all breeds age differently. Training a puppy is easier because they haven’t established bad behaviors yet, but any dog can benefit from training. With training an older dog, they must first unlearn bad behaviors for the new behaviors to come in. The team at Rocky Top K9 can evaluate your needs and help your dog at any age.

Contact Rocky Top K-9 to discuss your rescued dog and arrange a consultation with a trainer. Sandra and her team can make adopting a dog a safe and enjoyable experience for the whole family.

The Investment of Dog Training

There’s a stigma that dog training is expensive but Rocky Top K9 strives to offer competitive and fair pricing. You can select ala carte services or bundled packages so that you have the best options for your family. 

“The quality of life that we have is wonderful,” Sandra said as she spoke about her lifestyle with her dogs. “It’s a cyclic thing: they start trusting you more and you start trusting them more.”

Taking your dog hiking, going to the lake or beach, and visiting public places is one aspect of the benefits of dog training. Peace in your household and safety for the dog and your family is another. Investing in your dog is an investment into your household. Spreading this type of happiness is the goal of Rocky Top K9, and they are committed to helping local families with their dogs. View their services and packages here and contact them to discuss your options.

More About Sandra and Rocky Top K9

An inspirational card from her father sits on her desk and inspires her to give her all. The card quotes Proverbs 16:3, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will succeed.”

Sandra is active in the Sevierville community. Through her involvement in the Sevierville Chamber of Commerce, she enjoys meeting other local small businesses and working together to better the community.

Rocky Top K9 is a client of Kellum Creek Business Solutions, and we are proud to partner with Sandra and her team. It’s an honor to help grow their business, as well as other small businesses in Sevier County. Kellum Creek Business Solutions makes life easier for small business owners by assisting them with human resource management, public relations, and traditional marketing services.

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Authored in Appalachia || Amy Morton