Steve was raised in Michigan in a family that included pets throughout his childhood. Steve's first dog "Sam," was a Beagle that everyone in the household adored. When Sam passed, the family purchased a Weimaraner puppy named "Izzy." Izzy was a wild child, loved to run, and Steve was always running with her.
When Steve went off to college, he missed not having a canine companion and, as soon as he graduated, he acquired his first German Shepherd "Lu." Shortly after getting Lu, Steve met his first mentor, a college professor and trainer in Windsor, Canada named Glen Johnson. Glen was responsible for training Windsor's police K-9 unit, and this was Steve's first exposure to the real world of working dogs. After his day job, Steve would drive from Detroit to Windsor four nights a week, work with the K9 group until 4am, drive back, and get up the next day for work. It was exhausting, but also exhilarating.
Shortly after this, Steve found himself with another puppy, and became involved in competitive dog sports. As his interest grew, Steve branched out into other aspects of training, culminating in a return to college for a degree in animal behavior from Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan.
Steve was hooked. He decided that working with dogs was more rewarding and gratifying than anything else he could do, and gave up an automotive career to go full time as a professional trainer.
Steve has over thirty years of experience as a dog training professional, including the following:
- AKC competition with multiple High in Trial awards
- Schutzhund /IPO competition with multiple dogs
- National level competitor
- International level competitor
- 7 times USA World Team member
- Multiple High in Trial awards
In addition to competition, Steve has accomplished the following:
- Degreed and Certified Dog Behavior Counselor
- Frequent radio guest commentator
- Writer/contributor to National publications
- Assisted with K-9 training for multiple police agencies
- Business consultant to breeders, kennels, and K-9 equipment manufacturers
- Recognized legal expert witness on canine behavior
In 2015, Steve and his wife, Dianne, sold a large, full service boarding kennel, grooming, and training center in Michigan. They moved to Northern Kentucky and opened a dog training business focused on dog behavior counseling and one-on-one training. Steve's specialty is dog aggression. However, a large part of his counseling practice is also devoted to other issues separation anxiety, noise phobias, and compulsive disorders.
Steve also offers follow-up training for clients needing this service, as well as general training for those desiring a more comprehensive program than what is normally available in group classes. These lessons are one-on-one, and include both indoor and outdoor work as well as field trips when needed. There is also more flexibility in scheduling.
Additionally, Steve conducts Puppy Head Start consultations for those wishing to optimize their puppy's early development and get off to the best possible start toward becoming an ideal pet or a top competition dog.
Steve is a professional and certified member of:
- IAABC (International Association of Animal Behavior Counselors)
- APDT (Association of Professional Dog Trainers)
- Member of USCA (United Schutzhund Clubs of America)
Certified Associate member of:
- OLEKA (Ohio Law Enforcement K9 Association)
- NAPCH (National Association of Professional Canine Handlers)
Steve is a Certified Dog Behavior Counselor , a designation that requires several different areas of expertise, as well as on-going, continuing education. Visit the IAABC website for details.
Dianne Thies, LVT
Dianne is the other half of the team here at Common Scents. She was one of Steve’s students 25 years ago, and, as they say, the rest is history.
As a practicing Veterinary Technician for 15 years, Dianne lends a medical perspective to the evaluation of every program. With 20 years of experience teaching classes and conducting behavior consultations, she has proven herself to be an expert trainer and coach. Dianne has also excelled on the competition field with her own dogs.
With Dianne's training and teaching background, she is able to step in where a second instructor is needed, or in instances when a dog is more receptive to a female instructor. In some cases, Steve and Dianne work in tandem to provide clients and their dogs with the best possible learning experience. Dianne is also heavily involved in conducting seminars for veterinary clinics.
Steve with Oakland County K-9 "Lex"
Steve with USA World Team competitor "Masa"