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Much-loved dog trainer grateful for support after difficult decision to stop working

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A passionate dog trainer, who has even worked with dingoes at Australia Zoo, has given a heartfelt thanks to the community as he prepares to close his business after 40 years.

Stephen Dawson has been running dog training and obedience programs in Noosa since the mid-1980s.

First holding classes at Noosa Heads with a just handful of dogs, over the years he has grown a loyal following with regular training at Tewantin and Coolum, as well as private consults.

Working with all breeds of dogs from puppies to grown dogs with behavioural issues, Mr Dawson has also been instrumental in education, volunteering many hours at schools around the region to teach children dog safety practices.

After four decades, Mr Dawson has made the difficult decision to close his business due to ongoing health issues and a recent cancer diagnosis.

He told Sunshine Coast News he had been “brought to tears” by the overwhelming community support over the years and the well wishes in the weeks since announcing he would stop work.

“It’s been a passion,” Mr Dawson said.

“The messages I have received bring tears to my eyes.

“My wife said, ‘How do you feel?’ and I said, ‘It is so overwhelming.’”

Stephen Dawson with his beloved three-year-old black german shepherd, Ty.

Growing up in Victoria, Mr Dawson always owned dogs and when he came to Noosa he decided to put his own through training.

He said one day the dog trainer never showed up so he took over and established his business, Stephen Dawson Dog Training, from there.

“I changed the name of it and I spoke to the council, and the council were more than happy (for me) to run the dog training school and they gave me great support over all these years,” he said.

“I was able to start a class in the Lions Park in Noosa Heads with just a few dogs.

“We had a lot of success with people coming and going, and support from people from anywhere and everywhere.

“That didn’t come for nothing. I was absolutely dedicated to what I do and my trainers that work with me were dedicated too.”

A Stephen Dawson Dog Training session at Coolum.

Over the years Mr Dawson said he had dealt with his fair share of dangerous and “naughty” dogs, including animals that had been involved in attacks on other dogs or humans.

“We worked with everything. We never knocked back the hard dog,” he said.

“We would take the dangerous dogs on, we would take the really naughty dogs on.

“We would do as much as we possibly could so that everyone that had a dog and came to us, we would try our hardest to give them a result of some sort.

“I worked with a lot of dogs that may have attacked another dog or person and the owner would receive a notice from the council.

“I would do an assessment of the dog and if it could be rehabilitated and trained I would take it on, and if not I would tell council it could not be fixed.”

During his career, Mr Dawson also worked with Australia Zoo training dingoes for two years.

“It was brilliant, it was good fun and all so positive,” he said.

Stephen Dawson helping train dingoes at Australia Zoo.

Mr Dawson said a well-trained dog coupled with an owner who knew how to handle their dog was crucial.

“I would encourage everyone to do a little bit of training with their dogs,” he said.

“You will have so much more fun with you dog.”

Mr Dawson thanked the community for their love and support over his career.

“What I would like to say to the community is thank you,” he said.

“I couldn’t be able to do it without the community, I couldn’t do it without my trainers and the people along the way – absolutely amazing people.

“I’ve done something I’ve loved for all these years.”

Mr Dawson said he was determined to continue his private consultations throughout his treatment.

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