Kim Greene’s email signature reads, “Alpha Female” and in her line of work, that is exactly who she needs to be. Kim and her husband Jeff are the owners of Svalinn, a Montana-based breeder and trainer for working dogs. We sat down with Kim recently to ask her a few questions about her business and the dogs she works
What is Svalinn and how did it get it’s start?
My husband Jeff and I founded Svalinn to breed, raise and train world-class personal and family protection dogs. We often say that these amazing animals were bred out of necessity. We met in Afghanistan in 2003 and shortly thereafter we moved our young family to Nairobi, Kenya in 2005. The presence of a highly stable, social and loving family member that also has the ability to act as a deterrent against opportunists was critical. Our Dutch Shepherds, German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois helped to keep our family safe in a non-permissive environment. Over the years, many other families worldwide have made a similar investment in their personal safety and peace of mind by bringing one of our dogs into their home.
Why do you work with the breeds that you do?
At Svalinn we work with German Shepherds, Dutch Shepherds and Belgian Malinois. These breeds are known throughout history to be of a strong working nature. They are very smart, easily trained, eager to please and have excellent protective instincts. We breed in-house from our own genetics in order to control every aspect of a young dog’s experience, exposure and training. We offer a lifetime genetic guarantee as well as a perfect fit guarantee. Our confidence comes from proven genetic stability and intimate familiarity with each dog from birth.
What makes a good dog trainer?
We only hire individuals without prior K9 or working dog experience. Our methodology and approach here at Svalinn is precise and deliberate. Many of our K9 trainers come from an equine background; they are individuals who are proven in caring for and communicating effectively with large animals. It is important that they be able to gain the trust and respect of each dog. A good trainer must be focused in their mind and heart in order to work with these very intelligent animals. The bulk of our K9 trainers are women. At the end of the day, the majority of Svalinn dogs, when they are hand delivered to their forever family, will be primarily managed by women. We like to mimic this energy in our training environment.
What does your training process look like?
Puppies begin their training at 6-7 weeks of age. At first, the “training sessions” are very short iterations. By the time a dog is 2-3 months of age, individual training sessions have lengthened considerably, and pups will have been exposed to socialization, obstacle work, obedience, protection work, tracking and home searches. A dog is generally not ready for delivery until at least two years of age. Males often are delivered slightly older than females. They need time to mature and know their place and purpose, primarily as a companion and then a protector.
What do you find most fulfilling about the work that you do with these dogs and the families that they go to?
People often ask us, “Isn’t it so hard to let a dog go when it is moving on to its family?” It’s actually quite the opposite for us. Frankly speaking, nothing makes our work and relationships with the dogs more meaningful than when a dog is delivered to it’s forever family. Thousands of hours of training time, patience, love, connection and commitment have gone into molding that amazing creature. To watch a family bond with their new four-legged family member… nothing is more rewarding. That dog knows that it is “the chosen one” and to watch the animal connect with each family member is truly special for everyone involved. That family has made an investment in their peace of mind in the form of a loving, loyal companion. That is the richest part of what we do. That is the essence of Svalinn.