Barbara Woodhouse, née Blackburn, was born to an Anglo-Irish clergyman's family in Rathfarnham, Ireland, and grew up in Dublin. She was educated at the Headington School near Oxford, England, and attended agricultural college. In 1934, she married her first husband, Allan George Hill, and moved with him to Argentina to train horses; after a divorce, she returned to England. In 1940, she married Dr. Michael Woodhouse, with whom she had three children. She became a dog breeder and trainer and was successful for many years before appearing on her own BBC television series, Training Dogs the Woodhouse Way, in 1980. The show made her an international celebrity, and she appeared regularly on British and American TV until her death in 1988.
She was well-known (and sometimes parodied) for her smiling, kindly manner, high pitched voice, and catchphrases. Her many books included the bestselling No Bad Dogs (1982), which summarized her philosophy of dog training, and her autobiography, Talking to Animals (1975).