Paula became a dog behaviourist after pet attack

GORTAHORK woman, Paula Doohan is starring in a new six-part RTÉ series ‘Madraí’ which hit our screens on Friday.

While filming for the show ‘Peataí’ in 2020, Paula heard the howls for help from the nation’s dogs (and their owners) and decided to do something about it.

A national callout was launched last summer for families who were finding it hard to cope with their canines and producers were inundated with pleas for help.


Videos detailing every type of dog distress from separation anxiety to lead-pulling, non-stop barking to furniture-chewing, food allergies to medical anomalies were sent in.

A variety of different cases were then selected which span a range of common – and not-so-common – dog issues.

On a case-by-case basis, the experts observe the behaviour, diagnose the cause of the problem and give advice and recommendations for the dogs – and often their owners too!

Working with dogs since 2006, Paula ventured into the line of work when she was attacked by her own dog.

Paula’s German Shepard was out of control and the only way to resolve the issue was to learn how to train her dog.

When the sit, stay and stand method didn’t work, Paula began searching for another solution.

Paula’s search ended in Wicklow where she found a dog behaviourist, travelling to Donegal, they both trained her dog together.


Impressed with her training skills Paula then took herself off to England to do further training.

Now in the industry 17 years, Paula has shared some of her top tips and tricks for the Bulldog who won’t budge and the Retriever who won’t retrieve.

Speaking to the Donegal News, Paula said the main thing to remember is that dogs are canine and not human.

“You actually have an animal in your house that has teeth and if pushed too far will use them. The smaller ones are quick to put you in your place but the bigger ones will give you fair warning before.

“A lot of people miss the warning signs. When they do resort to teeth it’s the poor dog that’s put down and not the human who caused the problem in the first place. They are not babies and they should not be treated like babies,” she said.

“If a dog is jumping on you, if a dog is not listening to you when it really matters then that dog has no respect for you. Any dog that puts its paws on you sees you as a good play mate but not a leader or a guardian.

“When something happens like the doorbell rings, someone comes onto the street or there is danger, the dog thinks, stop asking me to play with you now this is serious and I’m working. The dog is telling you to back off and let them do their job,” she said.

To get the true picture, Paula travels to the dog.

On arrival she will enter the house and not entertain the dog at all.

“I will waltz into your house like I own it and the dog will think, oh wow, what’s going on here? She didn’t speak to me,” she said.
The dog then knows Paula is fit to look after herself so it immediately takes the pressure off the dog.

“After I go into the house, I talk to the humans,” Paula joked.

“I always laugh, it’s more human training I’m at. I will talk to the humans and tell them how I want them to interact with their dog and then sometimes within minutes the dog is thinking, what’s going on here? and their behaviour changes,” she said.

Tune in to the new series of Madraí tomorrow night at 8pm on RTÉ One and RTÉ Player.

Receive quality journalism wherever you are, on any device. Keep up to date from the comfort of your own home with a digital subscription.
Any time | Any place | Anywhere

and get access to our archive editions dating back to 2007
Every Thursday
Every Monday

Donegal News is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. St. Anne's Court, Letterkenny, County Donegal, Ireland