WHO ARE WE?
Meet Stefanie Strackbein, CFDM
Owner & creator, Dog advocate, canine behavior & enrichment specialist, Certified Family Dog Mediator
Background with Dogs
Stefanie has worked with dogs her entire life, professionally since 2007. She is a Certified Family Dog Mediator working to help people understand why their dog behaves the way they do based on their learning experiences, environment, genetic influences and their "self". Then she takes a holistic approach to come up with a plan for the family to help manage their dog's behavior and meet their needs.
She is the creator and owner of What Dogs Want, a center dedicated to promoting enrichment and fun learning of important skills for dogs and their people. Her passion is to help people understand the importance of meeting their dogs' needs, through play, fun educational opportunities, and providing an enriching environment that allows dogs to do "dog" things.
Stefanie has appeared on several media outlets including the PawsGo PAWdcast, hosted webinars for Your Dog's Friend and worked closely with DogTV to discuss the power of, and importance of enrichment.
Since then, she has worked in/with the behavior departments of the Arizona Animal Welfare League, The Humane Society, and Maricopa County Animal Care & Control. Stefanie has also worked in humane education, teaching dog-bite prevention classes to kids, and recently received a letter of recognition from the City of Phoenix, acknowledging her vocational skills class, teaching challenged students about dog care and training.
CERTIFICATIONS AND WHAT DOGS WANT HISTORY
Stefanie is constantly learning about dog behavior and the positive effects of enrichment. She has attended the Aggression in Dogs Seminar in 2020 and 20222, completed coursework in dog daycare operations, canine group dynamics, dog socialization, and enrichment for dogs. Stefanie currently holds certifications as a CFDM, in temperament evaluations for the Core Behaviors Assessment, Emergency Animal Management through FEMA and holds a certificate of completion in Play Way for Reactivity and Aggression Challenges. She has worked in several shelters around the Phoenix Metro Area, and she has helped develop several dog day cares, implementing procedures and protocols that benefit the dogs in their care.
In 2007 Stefanie co-founded The Canine Connection, a rescue organization dedicated to saving dogs that were scheduled to be euthanized at county shelters. In 2008, she started What Dogs Want, to help people learn about and appreciate their dogs’ needs and wants in a fun and effective way. In 2010, she co-founded the program Edu-Care for Dogs, bringing mental and physical enrichment to dogs in a group setting then started the What Dogs Want Academy in 2017 as a bigger, bolder, smarter program to provide great, good things for dogs and their people.
In 2022 Stefanie became a CFDM because it epitomizes her feelings about dog welfare: behavior problems are not a result of bad dogs. They exist, and are on the rise, largely due to our pet dogs having unmet needs. Working with a Family Dog Mediator helps people understand the “why” behind a dog’s behavior so we can determine a plan on “how” to help the dog succeed.
Meet Stef’s Dogs!
Indy: Co-creator, Dean of Admissions
Indy was adopted from a high-kill shelter when he was 8 months old. The reason he was surrendered was “lack of time”. He found his calling outside the shelter and became the inspiration behind starting What Dogs Want and is an active participant in all game development and testing. He currently is in charge of admissions, and also managing alumni relationships.
He brings with him over 10 years experience in his area of expertise. He offers excellent organization and interpersonal skills, superb communication skills, an ability to multi-task and work under pressure.
Mae: Activities Coordinator
Mae is a former #LovePup who was abandoned at the age of 3 months along with her brother. Today she is living her best life as the What Dogs Want Activities Coordinator and Student Relations Ambassador. Mae is responsible for approving all activities that take place on campus but is also currently developing her own line of ‘AMAEzing Mae’ educational toys and games for dogs.
She is often the first face the students see upon arrival, and is always willing to step in and help any dogs that need her assistance or coaching skills.
Obie: Hall Monitor and Rule Enforcer
Hijinks: Student Relations Ambassador
Hijinks, better known as ‘Jinx’ to her friends, is often the first friendly face new students and parents meet when coming to the academy. She is here to welcome new students, give them a tour of the facility, share some of her favorite activities and be a helping hand if they are feeling overwhelmed or need some encouragement during a particularly challenging task.
Jinx has grown up in the academy so has a lot to offer as a mentor and guidance counselor to her peers and works hard at developing positive relationships with everyone who attends the academy.