People aren't born dog trainers with a mystical gift! Its a fascinating journey of learning and discovery with our four-legged best friends...
At Wonder Paws, we are passionate advocates of force-free, postive reinforcement training. We are also passionate about helping people create happier, healthier relationships with their dogs, from puppies to adult dogs and seniors. Our team of dedicated dog training coaches have a combined wealth of knowledge educating new owners, training puppies, and training and rehabilitating shelter rescues and adult dogs.
We continue to do 'pro-bono' work with volunteer Rescue organisations in Dublin & Wicklow, helping foster dogs through socialisation and training to improve their chances of being permanently adopted.
Always an animal lover, Cathy Matthews got her first dog, an Irish Red & White Setter called Roly in 2003 and she muddled through the challenging early first few years as a dog owner. Although well intentioned, she was uneducated about dog behavior and training and at 5yrs Roly developed fear aggression in the car when travelling. Every journey became a misery for Roly and all the family and she was at a loss how to turn things around.
So in 2009 following a vet recommending euthanasia, Cathy contacted her local SPCA and got advice from their Trainer. She started dog training classes with Roly and there began a wonderful journey of discovery. Among other things, training classes taught her how to manage and turn around the fear behaviors Roly was exhibiting and opened up a wonderful communication between the two of them.
She was so happy with the positive methods she was learning; she became a volunteer at the shelter during the week and at weekends volunteered with the dog training team. Over the next 3.5yrs Cathy studied and gained over 1000 hours experience training puppies, adult dogs and ex-shelter dogs alongside a dedicated team of trainers.
Cathy continues her study with world-renowed trainer, teacher and author Jean Donaldson at The Academy for Dog Trainers in San Francisco, widely known as the 'Harvard' of Dog Training. Because of her Shelter Dog experience she loves welcoming rescue dogs and their new owners into classes and seeing how training can boost their confidence and help build a loving bond between rescues and their new owners. She is passionate about helping owners develop healthy, happy relationships with their dogs and, most importantly, educating new puppy owners.
In June 2013, Cathy opened Wonder Paws Pet Dog Training at Festina Lente in Bray. Its a wonderful location to have a fun 100% positive dog and puppy training experience in the South County Dublin/north Wicklow area. All profits from Wonder Paws go to the Festina Lente Foundation.
Cathy lives with her three dogs 10yr old Roly and 4 yr old Saffy (Irish Red & White Setters) and a young rescue Foxhound called Juno - not to mention her three young boys and a great husband!
Cathy is a certified Canine First Responder and a member of the Pet Professional Guild of Force-Free Trainers.
Since October 2014 Cathy trains with the unique Buddy Dog Programme at Shelton Abbey Prison for Irish Dogs for the Disabled. She mentors the handlers and guides their young assistance dogs in-training through basic obedience before they go to the charity's HQ in Cork for their specialist training to become fully qualified assistance dogs, changing the lives of young children and adults with disabilites.
Thomas has always had a love for dogs, starting at an early age bringing home strays he found on the street, not to the delight of his parents! It was 13 years ago Thomas got his first dog, a rescued Dalmatian puppy called Holly and, wanting to give Holly the best possible start, enrolled in a local dog training club where the interest in dog training took off.
Sadly in 2008 Holly passed away, and not ready to get another dog Thomas started to foster dogs for a local animal charity and while the dogs were staying with him they would be trained in basic obedience to prepare them for their forever home.
In 2011 Thomas joined the DSPCA as a dog walking volunteer and quickly moved to their dog training team gaining hands on experience in shelter dog training and public classes, training puppies and older dogs. Over the next 2 years he developed his knowledge and skills and became a trainer, leading public classes.
Thomas continues to gain science based knowledge by studying with one of the world's leading dog trainers Jean Donaldson at The Academy for Dog Trainers in San Francisco, widely known as the 'Harvard' of Dog Training. Thomas is also a certified canine first responder and a member of the Pet Professional Guild of Force-Free Trainers.
In October 2013, Tom successfully completed the prestigious Agility Club GB Instructors Course and became the only non UK participant to be awarded full certification in 2013. We are delighted that Tom is developing and leading the Agility Training classes at Wonder Paws.
Thomas is very excited to work at Wonder Paws and enjoys helping all pet dog owners, he lives with his 18 month rescue Dalmatian called “Roly” who he adopted in 2012.
Claudia’s love for dogs began at an early age, and when she was finally allowed to bring a puppy into the family at the age of 17 she was determined to do things right. Claudia decided very early on that her dog would be trained in a force-free manner and that they would have a lot of fun doing it.
Before acquiring Cody, her English Cocker Spaniel in 2009, Claudia did a lot of research into training dogs and began training Cody from day one. It wasn’t long before training became a huge passion and hobby of Claudia’s.
It was in 2011, after leaving a college course that she did not like, that everything began to fall into place. Claudia decided to pursue a degree in Veterinary Nursing and while waiting for that to begin, came across an opportunity to become a volunteer dog training intern with the DSPCA.
Over the next 2 years Claudia gained invaluable practical experience with shelter dogs, puppies and adult dogs of all shapes and sizes. Claudia’s confidence, knowledge and experience grew, she became a trainer, and began to lead public classes.
Claudia continues to enthusiastically learn and expand her scientific knowledge of canine behaviour and training through Jean Donaldson’s Academy for Dog Trainers – world renowned as the ‘Harvard’ of dog training.
Claudia will achieve her BSc. In Veterinary Nursing from University College Dublin in 2015. She is a certified Canine First Responder and a member of the Pet Professional Guild of Force-free Trainers.
Claudia is enthusiastic about making training fun and loves to see the bond between an owner and dog develop. She is very excited to be able to share her passion with others as a part of the fantastic Wonder Paws team.
Born into a household with an old, gentle-giant, Golden Retriever called Goldie, Olivia fell in love with dogs from a very young age. At the age of 3 Olivia and her parents acquired a black Labrador puppy called Prince. It was Prince who really developed Olivia’s love of animals over the 16 years they shared together. When Prince died the family were reluctant to ever get another dog but the void in the house needed to be filled. That’s when the family brought Amber home, a springer spaniel with more energy than you can imagine.
In 2010 she began volunteering in the DSPCA as a shelter dog walker and had decided to leave her degree in mathematics to pursue her dream to work with animals and become a Veterinary Nurse. During her gap year in college she filled her time with volunteer work in the Shelter, doing courses in Canine first aid and Canine nutrition. It was Amber who inspired Olivia to look into new modern training methods and gain knowledge. Olivia spent countless hours researching different training methods, trying to decipher what was good and what was bad.
She then joined a dog training internship programme at the shelter and submerged herself in the study material and any extra material she was advised to read. Over the next year and half she developed her knowledge and skills and became an assistant trainer, leading groups at public classes. Cathy was one of her first mentors at the Shelter and continues to guide Olivia through her dog training studies at Wonder Paws. She is enjoying gaining more hand-on experience with puppies and adult dogs and the opportunities to develop her skills and further her studies with a supportive team around her.
Olivia is a valuable member of the Wonder Paws team and leads the Husbandry section of our puppy courses as well as assisting at obedience courses, developing and leading Workshops and Agility classes.
Olivia is currently studying in University College Dublin to become a qualified Veterinary Nurse and is a certiified Canine First Responder.
Wonder Paws has opportunities open to join our team as a Volunteer Intern. So if you are interested in learning more about modern, positive, science-based dog training techniques, theory and gain practical experience working with clients and dogs please email a letter & CV to email@example.com explaining why you'd like to join the team.
Some Shelter or Rescue work experience is necessary and a passion for dogs and helping people, study and learning. PLUS a willingness to work outdoors in all weather!