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Image by Michael Oxendine

Meet Our Team


Liz Ford

Owner, Professional Trainer, & Behavior Consultant

CPDT-KA, KPA-CTP, AKC CGC Evaluator​, Certified Family Dog Mediator

Liz is a graduate of the University of Iowa (BA, 1999). She worked in business, marketing, and human resources before she made a career change to the animal care and welfare industry in 2001. Since then, Liz has held a variety of titles including: animal shelter volunteer, volunteer coordinator, dog training & behavior specialist, humane educator, non-profit executive director, animal emergency response coordinator, animal care technician, adoption placement counselor, and animal services officer. ​ Most recently and before opening Best Friends Dog Academy, Liz was the Supervisor for the City of Iowa City's Animal Services division and the Director for the Iowa City Animal Care & Adoption Center, where she oversaw all aspects of animal welfare and law enforcement. During her animal sheltering career she created and managed numerous programs to enhance agency and community services including enrichment for shelter animals, advanced training programs for shelter staff/volunteers and shelter animals, community outreach and education, and collaborations with other agencies such as the prison dog program, rescue/transport program, and the Emergency Animal Response Team. ​ Liz teaches and trains with scientifically proven reward based methods, specializing in behavior modification for reactive and fearful dogs and aggression cases. Her training philosophies emphasize building an understanding of the "why" behind behaviors, establishing clear and kind communication between handler and dog, and cultivating an environment for both to succeed. ​ Liz donates her expertise regularly to local animal shelters and rescues by teaching staff and volunteers current and best practices in animal care, training, and behavior modification and also working one-on-one with special needs animals.

Liz's Certifications

  • Karen Pryor Academy for Animal Training and Behavior, Certified Training Partner

  • Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers, Certified Professional Dog Trainer

  • American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen Certified Evaluator

  • Certified Family Dog Mediator

Liz's Professional Memberships and Affiliations

  • Association of Professional Dog Trainers, Member

  • International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, Member

  • Pet Professional guild, Member

  • Thrive, Member

  • Aggression in Dogs Master Course

  • Animal Behavior College Mentor/Trainer

  • Iowa City Dog Obedience Club, Member

  • Johnson County Community Emergency Response Team, Member

  • Iowa City Animal Services Animal Response Team, Founder and Director

  • ASPCA Field Investigations & Responses Team, Responder

  • Iowa Federation of Humane Societies, Board Member

  • Iowa Equine Rescue & Awareness League, Volunteer Trainer


Stacy Gray

Independent Contractor

Certified Family Dog Mediator

Stacy is passionate about cultivating a trusting and connected relationship between dogs and their families. She is dedicated to using positive reward-based methods that promote learning and strengthen the human-canine bond. Stacy has worked with numerous dogs as a lead volunteer at the Iowa City Animal Care and Adoption Center. It was there that her journey into dog training began. Stacy is a graduate of the University of Iowa (MA, 1995). Her professional background in the human world has included counseling and teaching. Stacy and her dog have earned Novice and Intermediate Tricks Titles from the AKC. They have also enjoyed dabbling in Nosework and Cooperative Care. She is a Certified Family Dog Mediator (FDM), a supporting member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC), a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT), a member of the Iowa City Animal Response Team, and participates in many continuing education opportunities for dog trainers.

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