Profile : Helen Phillips

Helen Phillips


Helen Phillips is the owner of the ‘Clicker Gundog’ Training Centre and is a qualified teacher and an Animal Training Instructor with the ABTC.

With her husband she manages a small shoot at the Training Centre solely for training purposes. She has been shooting and working dogs in the field for over thirty years, during this time she has been responsible for running varied types of beating lines and working her own dogs from large commercial shoots to rough shooting days, she was involved in the organisation and running of a small syndicate shoot in Worcestershire.

She has been breeding Hungarian Vizslas since 1998 and spent a lifetime with dogs from crosses to Spaniels and HPRs, as a result, she has extensive understanding of living and working with hunting dogs. She now has the pleasure of enjoying a good day’s rough shooting with her dogs and the focus is on working on the small shoot she owns at the Training Centre. She currently has two Hungarian Vizslas, Jack aged 101/2 and Dibble aged 31/2 and a Springer Spaniel, Wren aged 5 years. All dogs work in a variety of roles on the shoot from beating, picking up and as partner on the peg. Helen has also achieved the Working Gundog Certificate on Dummies and on Game, with two breeds of dog HPR & Spaniel, she has competed in working tests and participates in grouse counting.

Helen taught a Canine Training and Behaviour Course at Warwickshire College at two levels for six years and was a business partner with Learning About Dogs in Gloucestershire for ten years. She has a Distinction in the Certificate of Canine Training and Behaviour from Warwickshire College and holds the City and Guilds Level 5 Teaching qualification. She has achieved the Learning About Dogs Clicker Trainers Competency Assessment Programme levels 1, 2 and 3 with Distinction and was an active assessor for the scheme. Alongside this Helen trained with Kay Laurence for many years and taught a variety of the Clicker Training workshops at Wagmore Barn in Gloucestershire.

Currently Helen is teaching a variety of Clicker Gundog courses around the world as well as at her own training facility in the UK. Her focus is on promoting the use of force free, positive reinforcement training techniques and strategies within Gundog training and field sports in general. She has a strong ethical stance in respect of this and endeavours to promote this within the shooting field and is an advocate for encouraging pet owners with Gundog’s to explore their natural abilities and expression of natural behaviour for wellbeing. She is a member of the Special Council for the Pet Professional Guild (PPG).

Helen along with Jules Morgan created and is the chairperson of The Vale and West Gundog Club whose mission is to provide support and encouragement to those wishing to use, or already using force free training and organise events that provide a safe environment for members to participate in. She is an Instructor and Assessor at all levels for The Gundog Club an organisation that declared its force free policy in 2018 and runs courses each year for all levels.

Alongside Jules Morgan she designed the Gundog Trainers Academy to meet the increasing demand for ethical Gundog training with a robust qualification and assessment procedure. The GTA has just completed the rigorous assessment process accreditation to the ABTC and is now a Member Organisation as well as Ambassador Partner of the PPG. Helen is the author of the very popular ”Clicker Gundog” book which draws on building a strong connection between dog and handler working as a team in the environment.

Workshop – Life Skills for Gundog Water Work

In this workshop I will explore the life skill behaviours and emotions that will help you to successfully achieve your goals with your water work. I will also explore the power of water as a reward and how to create a cue that is linked to this.

If your dog finds water exciting, and if they also find retrieving exciting the result is poor focus, inability to concentrate and increased error rate, reducing the quality of the learning that is to take place.

What are the key life skills that can underpin this work, here are some examples that we are faced with while trying to achieve this goal…

  • In ability to Walk together towards the water
  • In ability to Recall out of water
  • Refusing to eat food or to play at the water’s edge

And the list goes on, all are indications that the dog is not in the correct emotional state before training commenced and that instead of the focus being on this we have jumped ahead straight to the outcome.

The objective should be to get the dog into the thinking part of their brain so that the subsequent behaviour patterns required for water work can be easily learnt.

If we focus on this aspect, that is the correct emotion that underpins these, then these behaviours will and can be developed easily.

To get the most from this workshop your dog needs to be able to swim.

Workshop – Gundog Water Work


In this workshop I will explore the basic patterns required for this task, how to establish a solid retrieve pattern from water and depending on the dog’s level, over water, alongside this work on steadiness. The strategies to achieve a hand delivery and discuss and practically apply putting the shake on cue.

To get the most from this workshop your dog needs to be able to swim and have a solid retrieve on land.