Top Tier K9 VR Dog Training


About Top Tier K9

Jeff Minder, a military veteran specializing in SERE training (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape), started Top Tier K9 in 2014 to train both dogs and owners by building an effective communication system between humans and dogs. In doing so, he hopes to reduce the number of dogs that end up in shelters and increase the collaboration between humans and dogs. Since then, it has become the top dog training school in the world for service dogs and the first company to train a dog to detect COVID 19.

Top Tier K9

The product developed by Saritasa will represent a 20% increase in our productivity. Thanks to it, we will reduce the time we spend with owners, allowing us to train more dogs and increase the amount of money we can earn by performing our business’ core tasks.

Overall, I’m very satisfied with Saritasa’s work – they’ve delivered beyond my expectations.

Jeff MinderCEO of Top Tier K9

Their Challenge

According to the Shelter Animals Count National Database, shelters took in over 1.2 million dogs in 2021, and over 100,000 of those dogs were euthanized or otherwise passed away before being adopted. A lack of training is one of the top reasons that dogs end up in animal shelters.

As Jeff grew his business, he encountered several issues. One: an issue of scale. Consistency and standardization of training become more difficult as the business grows. Two: he needed more dogs to practice with. Dogs are living creatures themselves though. They learn bad habits when inexperienced trainers give the wrong commands or do not react in time to discourage behaviors. He needed a way to more efficiently train pet owners and future dog trainers without negatively affecting dogs.

Our Solution

Virtual reality training has many benefits, allowing trainees to practice new skills in risk-free environments and trainers to provide standardized education at scale. When Top Tier K9 came to us with the idea to train potential dog owners and trainers in VR, our team embraced the challenge.

The result is a Top Tier K9 branded virtual reality training experience available for license by Top Tier K9 franchises and animal shelters that walks a user through the five basic commands for dogs; Sit, Climb, Down, Come, and Heel. Jeff plans to expand the functionality to make the platform a useful tool for animal shelters to teach and test prospective dog owners along with specific training for police officers who interact with drug dogs.

Our Approach

What Saritasa Did

Unity Development

Our team of expert 3D designers and developers built the Top Tier K9 virtual reality experience in Unity for the Meta Quest 2 headset. The experience starts in a virtual replica of a Top Tier K9 training facility with a variety of dogs to select from. Our team used pre-existing assets of dogs including their animations and customized them to reduce the overall project budget.

Timed Reactions

The process of training a dog is incredibly specific, hence the entire industry around it. Dogs have a short-term memory of approximately 1.3 seconds, which is the exact amount of time trainers have to reward or correct a dog’s behavior with either verbal or physical commands. The VR experience takes this timing into account, requiring any corrective action to be taken within that 1.3-second timeframe to get the trainee familiarized with the speed of their responses.

Voice Commands

Just like with real life, the virtual reality experience relies on verbal commands. Part of the complexity in developing this experience was making sure the app listened when it was supposed to, without having audio listening always on.

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