About Us

At A Dog's Life our goal is to make your life easier. Our trainers are dedicated professionals with a variety of certifications and skills available to meet your individual needs. A Dog’s Life… creating success at both ends of the leash!


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Kristie Swan, BAA, CPDT-KA, KPA CTP

Kristie was the first trainer in Grand Rapids to be certified through CCPDT. The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers has become the most recognized and respected certifying organization for trainers. She is also a Certified Training Partner with the prestigious Karen Pryor Academy. Kristie is also an evaluator for AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy, Canine Good Citizen and Trick Dog. Through fostering rescued dogs and raising puppies she has gained insight and experience. Dedicated to pursuing the knowledge and skills needed to help dogs and owners live happy lives together, Kristie continues to expand and update her education. Kristie has over fifteen years of experience and trained at Whiskers University for 7 years before starting A Dog's Life.

Kristie shares her life with two dogs. Wendigo, a spirited Chesapeake Bay Retriever and Page, an adopted Australian Cattle Dog.


Nikki Koning, KPA CTP, FPPE

Nikki got her start teaching classes at Petco. Soon after, she began fostering dogs for a local rescue and found great joy in helping dogs find their forever homes. This led to her learning more about canine behavior and positive training techniques. As a mother Nikki is aware of the challenges that can arise when raising a child with dogs. She became a licensed Family Paws Parent Educator, along with being a Karen Pryor Adacemy Certified Training Partner, and now specializes in dog and baby/toddler dynamics and raising the next Dog Aware™ generation.  https://www.familypaws.com/

Nikki is owned by five dogs: Rusty, a German Shepherd/Boxer mix; Ella, a teacup Schnauzer; Nelly, a shepherd mix from Lebanon; Sherman, a Rat Terrier mix; and Gertude, a Boxer/Staffie mix. Most of Nikki’s dogs were adopted, or came into her life by accident. Some are special needs so they earned the loving moniker of “foster fails”. Nikki is, also, mother to a spunky, and independent toddler named Charlee.

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Erika Gregorian, VSA-CDT

Erika is a graduate of the Victoria Stilwell Academy for Dog Training and Behavior. She specializes in herding breeds and dogs with special needs. Erika also teaches Nosework classes (Scent-ology). After managing a very successful dog walking company she sought education and certification to further her service to dogs and those who love them. Through her studies at the academy and with the many dogs she has worked with Erika is fluent in canine body language. She is also well practiced in treating fear and anxiety and their resulting behaviors.

Erika is originally from Kansas and moved to Michigan in June, 2018. She shares her life with a military husband and three dogs: Josephine, a Border Collie/shepherd mix; Millicent, a Border Collie; and Matilda, an Australian Shepherd mix who is deaf and has limited vision. She has a passion for helping dogs, using positive training methods, lead more fulfilling, happy and enriched lives.


Carrie Raap, LMSW, KPA-CTP

Carrie is a professional dog trainer certified through the Karen Pryor Academy, and a Licensed Masters Level Social Worker who has been practicing in the field of mental health for 20 years. She is very excited to bring her experience as a therapist to the dog training world, and will be leading our new Therapy Dog Training program!

Carrie is also proud to be a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, and is a certified C.L.A.S.S. instructor and evaluator. https://mydoghasclass.com


Amy TOwnsend, LVT, LMT

Amy is a licensed veterinary technician and manual therapist who has loved training animals since elementary school. Her veterinary nursing career spanned spay & neuter clinics, shelter medicine, emergency/ICU nursing, and day practice before she found her niches in behavioral and physical rehabilitation. She enjoys working with pets and their owners to restore physical and emotional well-being and open communication using positive, force-free training, science, and mindfulness. Amy is a member of the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America & the Society of Veterinary Behavior Technicians. She has handled two therapy dogs and her favorite dog sports are agility and rally obedience. Amy also volunteers with 4-H, helping kids learn how to train their dogs.

Amy shares her full house with Trevor, an Australian Cattle Dog; Simone, a pit bull-coonhound mix; Fern, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel; three kitties, and a revolving door for small animals in need of a home, along with her husband and two children. In her spare time, Amy enjoys gardening, bonsai, and sewing.