Meet Stefanie Strackbein, CFDM

Owner & creator, Dog advocate, canine behavior & enrichment specialist, Certified Family Dog Mediator


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. 

What Dogs Want is an accumulation of all Stefanie has learned and wants to provide for all dogs and their people!

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 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 is a former #LovePup, found on the streets of Phoenix when he was just 3 months old and weighing 4 lbs. He came to What Dogs Want looking to build confidence and find a sense of security. His favorite color is green, he is a fan of giraffes and his favorite after school snack is popcorn. Do not let his sweet face and charm fool you-he can be a bad ass if he needs to be. 

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.