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Stefanie Strackbein

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Phoenix, AZ

Hi! I am Stefanie, a licensed Family Dog Mediator in the Shelter, Working, and Support Services divisions. I am also the owner of What Dogs Want, LLC and President of What Dogs Want Academy, an enrichment and learning center in Phoenix, AZ. WDW Academy is truly unique in that it offers a Montessori-like dog school with very small, carefully curated classes where dogs are encouraged to engage in, and explore their world through free work and fun, purposeful activities.

We also offer private appointments to help families and individuals learn about their dogs' LEGS and how to create a safe, enriching environment in which their dogs can thrive. This can include family-dog mediation counseling or private tutoring for dogs who prefer to work in the comfort of home or without the social pressure of being around other dogs. We have a scholarship program that allows shelter dogs to come to school while they are waiting to be adopted. We also offer an outreach program where we go into shelters and provide enrichment for the dogs residing there. I have appeared on several TV shows, webinars and podcasts promoting the importance of enrichment beyond Kongs and understanding your dogs' true needs. We hosted dog game nights with DogTV and have written numerous articles on enrichment, dog behavior, and the importance of playing with your dog.

I owe my professional dog career to Indy Jones, an 8 month old sheltie/corgi I adopted from a high-kill shelter in 2010. He was turned in by his owner for 'behavior issues and lack of time'. He was the first herding dog I ever lived with and I figured out quickly why he was turned in for 'behavior problems'. His 'problem' was boredom! We started playing games together and developed hundreds of activities to keep him brain and body engaged but I also realized how important it was to give him outlets so he could enjoy the 'dog things' he liked to do.

What Dogs Want was the result of our teamwork. Working in shelters, it became clear that MANY dogs were being relinquished or rehomed for "behavior problems" when in fact they were just under stimulated, misunderstood, and frustrated. Our mission (and my promise to Indy) is to do whatever we can to eradicate that! Playing, working together on fun activities, and allowing a dog to feel free and safe to make choices is what it's all about. As life becomes busier it is even more important to take this time with our dogs and enjoy who they are through observation, play, freedom, and permission to be a dog.

Indy taught me how important it was to recognize a dog's Genetics and Self in order to understand who he was and what he needed to thrive. After taking Kim's life-changing course and taking a deep dive into the G and the S, adding the Learning and Environment component provided the last pieces of the puzzle. This is the revolution I used to joke about-helping dogs be appreciated, respected and understood for who they are and what they truly want and need. Kim put into words what I think a lot of us (dog professionals and dog parents) have felt for a long time. Now we are here to do our part in making dogs' lives more enriched and have all their needs met. We strive to always be WHAT DOGS WANT. Thanks, Indy. You continue to move me in the direction you wanted me to go in :)

Licensed Family Dog Mediator