Stephanie Keesey-Phelan, Ph.D., BCBA, CSAT, CCUI, FFCP, Canine Behavior Analyst

April 22, 2024
By Anne Marie Duquette
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Anne Marie Duquette interviewed Dr. Stephanie Keesey-Phelan, the Winner of the 2023 DWAA Writers Online Article or Blog Entry Category, The Mythical Brewery Dog.

Read the Winning Entry

Congratulations on your win!  Tell us about your experience and expertise, and how this relates to your entry.  What target audience did you write for, and why?

I am a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and have a doctoral degree in Behavior Analysis. At The Dog Behavior Institute (DBI), I work with my colleague and co-founder Ran Courant-Morgan to provide dog behavior consultation for those experiencing challenges with their dogs. We also provide online classes applying behavior analysis to dog behavior and training, and online group classes. We maintain a blog at DBI that serves several purposes: to provide accurate and scientific information about dog behavior, to give book and product reviews and recommendations, and through our interview series, to introduce other amazing dog professionals to our community.

We always talk with our clients about how they envision sharing their lives with their dogs, and what expectations they have for them. Here in the northeast, we are seeing more and more local establishments like breweries and restaurants allowing dogs. Often our clients wish to take their dog along when they go out to dine with friends. While this is a reasonable expectation for some dogs, this type of activity isn’t a great fit for all dogs and is what led me to write The Mythical Brewery Dog. Through this contest entry, I wanted to have dog guardians consider if they want to take their dog to a brewery, as well as warning that this might not be fun for all dogs and provide some alternatives.

What prompted you to submit this specific entry?  Why do you think it struck a special chord with the public and the judges—and with you?

One thing that is incredibly important to us at DBI is that we take an individualized approach. So often when we read content about dogs, we are told what to do and what not to do.  This can cause shame and/or resentment for readers. With this article, I tried to present a fair evaluation and guidance for those considering a brewery outing with a dog.  They can come to their own conclusion how to best share their values with their dog.

How big a part have people played in your association with dogs?  Family?  Friends?  Do you have any favorite writers/bloggers/media or graphic artists?  How have they influenced your career?

If there’s one thing I love more than writing about dogs, it’s reading and listening to content about dogs!  I have learned and grown so much from incredible writers like Eileen Anderson (who writes a great blog at and Kiki Yablon (who also has a wonderful dog blog at What I love about these writers is the scientific yet accessible approach they take to all the topics they tackle in their work. Sometimes reading isn’t accessible or an option (such as when driving a car!) and to that end, another fantastic source of fascinating and scientifically-minded dog information is Hannah Branigan’s Drinking From the Toilet Podcast. All of these speakers and writers have influenced my understanding of canine behavior with my own dog and my clients’ dogs.

When you consider both your personal and professional canine-related achievements, which one of each stands out the most?  And why? What is the driving force that sparks your work?

Personally, I have been spending the last year diving into the world of sheepherding with my mini Australian Shepherd, Kerby. Kerby is the first herding breed I’ve ever lived with, which prompted me to explore dog sports.  I noticed how much he adores being on farms and around livestock. It has been important that we take a positive-reinforcement approach to his herding training.  I’m so proud of the progress he’s made so far and how much fun we are both having!  I’ve been documenting our herding training journey on the blog so readers can check that out if they want to learn more.

Professionally, I am proudest of the business I co-own, The Dog Behavior Institute. My co-founder and friend Ran Courant-Morgan and I have been very intentional in the ways we integrate our values into the business, including free spots in our courses for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color), sliding-scale pricing options, writing and hosting free events, and donating a percentage of our revenue to nonprofits both locally and nationally. Our goal with The Dog Behavior Institute is to bring a sense of joy to the relationship between guardians and their dogs through the application of behavior analysis.  It’s been so heartening to see these values and goals come together at DBI.

What would you recommend to those peers who wish to enter your winning category in next year’s contest?

It can be a delicate balance: writing about behavior and training. My goal in this area is to write content that is accessible and informative, while also scientifically accurate. But I also want to be sure that I don’t provide too much “how to” type information because each dog and each guardian or family is unique. Suggestions that might work in one context could be entirely inappropriate in another. Keeping that in mind, I try to balance good, evidence-based information with writing that is still engaging and helpful, and recommend others strive for that balance as well.

Ultimately though, I suspect what made my winning entry successful was that I wrote about something I had a genuine interest in, something that came up with clients, and with me and my own dog.  With our blog, we always find that our most well-received posts are the ones we were excited to write about. Thus my biggest recommendation is to follow your passions and your interests!  If you’re excited about what you’re writing, chances are your readers will be, too.

To conclude this interview, what thoughts from the heart would you like to share?

It was such an honor and a delight to win in the category for Blog Post about Training and Behavior.  Writing in this area can be fraught and I’m thrilled that my work resonated. It’s a testament to the idea that there is no “one-size-fits-all” answer to how someone can live well with their dog.  We do best when we thoughtfully consider the unique individuals in front of us.

Congratulations again and thank you for sharing with us. 

Photo Credit: Stephanie with her mini Australian Shepherd Kerby, courtesy Stephanie Keesey-Phelan