About the Trainer

Alfhild Winder, owner of Come When Called Dog Training, has been training dogs since 1996.

My Early Life

I, Alfhild (Al) Winder, grew up in rural post-WWII Germany in the company of cats, chickens, rabbits, a terrier-mix, and the family’s beloved German Shepherd Dog (GSD). In the U.S., dogs and cats continued to be a part of my life, including an irresistible puppy from the dog pound with a raccoon’s mask who ballooned into an adult the size of a St. Bernard and one sweet German Shepherd Dog who became the greatest companion ever. None of the dogs got more than rudimentary training, but all were marvelous creatures.  One summer I saw dogs perform in an obedience trial and I instantly knew I wanted to train a dog to that level.

My Training

Fast forward to 1996, I sold my piano and bought a GSD puppy from a breeder.  Training Tristan at Capital Dog Training Club, near Washington, D.C., became an addiction. There was so much to learn. Going against the established training methods of that time, I soon traded the harsh choke collar for the clicker and newer positive training methods. Seminars and workshops by top trainers followed—Jean Donaldson, Pamela Reid, Patricia McConnell, Pia Silvani, Ken Ramirez, Bobbi Anderson, Pat Miller, Susan Garrett, Suzanne Clothier, Kathy Sdao, Trish McConnell, Leslie Nelson, Suzanne Hetts, Dan Eastep, Sue Sternberg, Amy Herot, Jill Marie O’Brian, and Bob Bailey.  From Jean Donaldson at the San Francisco SPCA, I earned the Counseling Certificate for Behavior Problems and later returned for a rigorous course on training reactive dogs. Pia Silvani’s Consulting and Problem Solving opened a world of ideas, as did the five-day Silvani/Sternberg Instructor Training Course and a week of honing my training skills with Susan Garrett in Ontario, Canada,

Each of these wonderful trainers contributed unique pieces to my training philosophy, but the pivotal point of my learning came from world-renowned animal trainer, Bob Bailey, who was a pioneer in applying the principles of B.F. Skinner’s operant conditioning to commercial animal training. Studying with Bailey in numerous of his week-long Chicken Workshops was life-changing. Topics included Discrimination, Cueing, Criteria, Chaining and the challenging Teaching. The principles and techniques learned from Bailey are the foundation of my training approach. 

Current Activities

I am a nationally certified professional dog trainer with the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers, which requires a rigorous exam to demonstrate mastery of humane, science-based dog training practices. I am also an AKC Canine Good Citizen and Tricks Title evaluator.

As the owner of Come When Called Dog Training & Behavior Counseling, I am knowledgeable about a variety of dog training methods; however, I use those that rely on positive, scientifically proven learning theory.  My mantra is “Positive but Not Permissive.”  I love to see a dog think and make good choices.  My most gratifying experience is using my training knowledge to work one-on-one with people to resolve problem behaviors in their dogs. I also enjoy teaching classes, particularly the highly successful, three-level puppy program at the Olney-Sandy Spring Veterinary Hospital in Olney, Md.  I have coached numerous students to AKC obedience, CGC and Rally titles through my Obedience Skills class at Your Dog’s Friend training facility in Rockville, Md. From a training space in my home, I teach puppy classes, an advanced class for reactive dogs, and a CGC Prep class.  I am a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, the Pet Professional Guild and the Behavior Education Network.

I live in Bethesda, Md., with my husband, Jim, and GSD Inka.  Inka has been trained in obedience, rally, agility, nosework and many tricks and games.

Al and Jean Donaldson at Growly Dog class in San Francisco.
Al and Feisty, the White Leghorn, at Bailey discrimination workshop in Sequim, Wash.

Training Philosophy

We are committed to teaching you to train your dog or puppy using modern, reward-based training and behavior modification techniques that work quickly and effectively.

We use only gentle, positive reinforcement techniques that are people- and dog-friendly in addition to being fun and easy to learn for you and your dog.

Our methods are based in proven scientific learning principles – not in tradition.

You will learn how to communicate with your dog, and clear communication means successful training and good behavior – with no need for force or coercion.

We specialize in helping you turn your untrained or challenging dog into a well-behaved companion and good neighborhood citizen.