Meet Elaine McKean Berg, Owner at Golden Rule Dog Training, an organization that provides in-house pet dog training based on animal behavior science.
Like humans, animals too understand the language of love and at times more than us. Elaine McKean Berg, the founder of Golden Rule Dog Training herself had an aggressive dog, whom she loved with all heart. She connected with many trainers about its issues, but all in vain. Then, a trainer in Germany made her aware of a new concept. As she returned to the United States, she joined a Yahoo group for people with aggressive dogs. Elaine met the group’s moderator and even volunteered at a local dog shelter. She enrolled in a class they were offering, and amidst this, people encouraged her to become a professional trainer. And that’s how her journey started.
Realizing the skills she had as a trainer were not open to the public, she founded Golden Rule Dog Training in 2004 and has been an ace trainer ever since. Growing up, Elaine moved a lot as her father worked in sales. She felt lost after college and took on various jobs to make ends meet. For a few years, she worked as a legal assistant, where she learned the art of negotiation and even waited tables. However, nothing ever clicked. But all these jobs taught her something new, skills that she now employs in her current business.
McKean Berg observed that people with aggressive dogs were embarrassed and were often told to euthanize them. Being a part of this dog owners’ lot, she empathizes with them and helps out with an assurance of confidentiality. Talking more about her organization, she says, “I offer a niche area of dog training. Working with aggressive dogs using positive, science-based methods is still somewhat rare. (Just look at the TV shows – even they don’t use these methods). The methods I use are dog and human friendly so my dog and human clients not only get results, they feel good about how they are doing the training.”
She marketed to veterinarians and tried to help them overcome their old school methods of training, which were quite harsh. As the industry is unregulated, anyone can call themselves a dog trainer/behavior specialist. She has to tout her credentials every time against the people who have little or no training in the arena. Even 15 years later, Golden Rule Dog Training is a one-person business. Elaine has started over three times in different places due to her husband’s relocations. But she does it with no sweat. She is able to travel the world and still do what she loves. Most dog trainers don’t deal with aggression issues, so this gives McKean Berg an upper hand in new towns.
She is elated when a client refers her to other dog owners. And also when people suggest she give a talk at a local dog club or attend events like dog shows. From feeling lost in her career right after college and struggling to find her passion to becoming a professional dog trainer helping our furry friends, Elaine has come a long way. As dogs are everywhere around the world, she is never out of business as long she is willing to work hard. Leaving an inspiring message for her readers, she says, “Finding just one simple thing that you love to do and are good at can become a money-making venture. Ask for help when you need it. I’m not good at the business side, but I know people who are and asked for help, and got it. There are people who want you to succeed – find them!”