Business taps into demand for well-mannered dogs

Icon K9 Obedience in Grafton will celebrate its one-year anniversary after setting up shop in longtime dog training center

ICON K9 OBEDIENCE owner Scott Timm (above) stood outside his Town of Grafton training center with dog paws tattoos displayed on his left forearm. The business will celebrate its one-year anniversary in September after moving into the former Knowles Dog Training Center. Photo by Sam Arendt
By 
JOE POIRIER
Ozaukee Press staff

Scott Timm of Icon K9 Obedience training center in the Town of Grafton is teaching dog owners how to make their furry four-legged companions friendly citizens.

“Most of it is getting through to the owners and showing them how to handle their pets the right way,” Timm said. “They say you’re not really training dogs, you’re training the owners.”

The center at 1365 Arrowhead Rd. will celebrate its one-year anniversary next month. The building was previously home to Knowles Dog Training Center, which was operated by Karen Knowles for 26 years until she retired in July 2018. Timm also remembers the building was a car dealership called Arrowhead Motors when he was a student at Grafton High School.

Since opening, the training center has been well received by residents of Ozaukee County and people living in West Bend and Bayside.

“We’ve had over 100 dogs and puppies come through here,” Timm said. “I never thought I would have my own place. When I saw this was open, I couldn’t think of a better place. It’s a big benefit when people drive by because they’re used to seeing a dog training facility here.”

Timm shares the center’s 2,000 feet of space with Heidi LaCosse who operates Canine Enrichment Center, which focuses on building confidence and life skills for dogs, during the day. At night, Timm holds his hour-long obedience classes at 6 p.m.

“It has worked out perfectly because she mainly wants to work during the day and I wanted the nights,” he said.

Timm offers an obedience course for puppies and basic and advanced skills programs for older dogs, each lasting six weeks.  

During the last week of the advanced class, Timm runs the dogs through a series of off-the-leash and recall tests in order to certify the pets as “canine good citizens” through the American Kennel Club.

Timm’s training philosophy involves positive reinforcement by using treats and praise as opposed to forced training.

“With all the rescue and shelter dogs coming through here, it tends to work better than forced training because it builds a better bond and trust with the dog,” he said. “As far as forced training goes, the dog does it because it’s afraid of what could happen instead of wanting to do it. It’s always waiting for a shock or a yank on the collar.”

Timm said he understands the need for owners to use a prong collar or an invisible fence to keep their pets at bay, but doesn’t recommend shock collars.

About 70% of the older dogs Timm trains come from shelters. He has four dogs of his own who are also rescues, one of which was a bait dog used for dog fighting in the South. He said the first year of training a rescued animal is vital for teaching it obedience.  

Timm said the most troubling part of owning a rescue dog is not knowing what it went through with its former owner.

“If only they could tell you what their life story is. That first year they’re with you is so impressionable and important to get them acclimated in a new home and with a new owner,” he said.

Timm is also training several puppies that will become service dogs. He said it can be a challenge working with service animals because of the pressure their work will entail.

“It’s a little intimidating when you get dogs like that in here because you want to make sure you’re doing the right thing,” he said.

Timm said he decided to become a dog trainer when his son, who was a police officer in Nome, Alaska, had a canine named Icon for a partner. Icon died of cancer in 2015, but his memory lives on in the company’s name.

Timm became a certified dog trainer after taking an online course through the Animal Behavior College and working as an intern for 18 weeks at the Washington County Humane Society.

Prior to becoming a dog trainer, Timm worked for 19 years as an artisan baker in Mequon. The 59-year-old said changing his career was the best decision he has ever made.

“When I first started, I guess it was scary. For one thing, you don’t know what to expect because it’s a business that relies on people to sign up every six weeks. I had classes where I had only one or two dogs at first. Halfway through the year, classes started filling up and now I’m booked,” Timm said.

“I’m just shocked that I’m doing something like this right now but it’s something I can do as years go by.”

With one year under his belt, Timm said he is considering adding more classes and wants to study to become a trainer in dog behavior.

Timm said you’re never too old to learn new tricks or skills. He said the same holds true for training dogs.

“You’re never done training a dog,” he said. “I tell people one of the biggest misconceptions is that they think after a six-week course their dog will always be trained. You have to constantly train your dog.”
 

 

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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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