Gundog training holidays: what's the deal?

Our 2024 gundog training holidays are in full swing and I will soon be putting together the dates for 2025.

People are often very excited about the thought of booking a gundog training holiday but have lots of questions about what it involves, if it’s right for them and their dog, where they can stay and if they can bring their partner, and what to do if they can’t make any of the dates.

In this blog, I’ve answered some of the most frequently asked questions I get about the gundog training holidays. If you are contemplating booking or organising one for next year, I hope you will find it useful.

What is a gundog training holiday?

A gundog training holiday is a unique and immersive experience for gundog handlers who want to combine a few days of group training on new and challenging ground with a relaxing getaway.

Training takes place during the day, at Completely Gundogs our gundog training holidays run from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm, leaving you free to explore the local area, put your feet up, do some training with your other dogs, or catch up on work if needed in the evenings.

A gundog training holiday is designed to let you spend some uninterrupted, quality time working your dog.

You will be able to enjoy the ‘fruits of your labour’, seeing all the training you’ve put into them so far paying off.

Doing several consecutive days of training with your dog is also a fantastic way to help you identify any weak areas that might not get picked up on in short class sessions or when you’re training on your own.

There might be gaps in your dog’s understanding, they might just need more experience on different ground, or it could be something you are doing as a handler.

A good trainer will spot these on day one and can spend the following training days coaching you through, giving you practical exercises and tips to implement immediately on the holiday and when you return home.

What happens on a gundog training holiday?

At Completely Gundogs, I offer a range of three day gundog training holidays at my grounds just outside Llandinam, near Newtown, in Mid Wales.

The holidays are split into different levels to accommodate novice, intermediate and advanced gundogs.

All gundog breeds are welcome on our novice and intermediate holidays, which are both mixed-breed groups. As a retriever specialist myself, having always worked and competed at tests and trials with my Labradors, our advanced gundog holidays are open to retriever breeds only.

On day one of all the holidays, we meet in the barn at 9:15 am for quick introductions over tea or coffee so we can all learn a little bit about each other’s dogs, their experience level and training goals.

We then move to the top fields to do some basic obedience work so that the dogs begin to settle in the environment and around a new group of dogs. There will usually be some marked retrieves to gauge where the group is at with steadiness and delivery to hand before breaking for lunch for an hour.

The rest of the holiday is then very much geared to the dogs and what handlers want and need to work on (as well as the weather). The grounds I have here allow for so many different training scenarios and exercises to be set up. We also have woodland to provide shelter in the rain and shade in the summer.

Over the three days, we will work to ensure that the dogs are able to expand on their skills of marking, taking memories and blinds. We will generally look at retrieving over obstacles, hunting and holding an area, stopping and handling, as well as the usual heelwork, delivery and steadiness. There are usually walked-up scenarios in cover crops and our woods and water training sessions.

Depending on the dogs' and handlers' experience, the time of year, and the weather forecast, the intermediate and advanced holidays will also include an off-site training session.

I am very grateful to have permission to use two fantastic pieces of land. One is up the mountain with incredible panoramic views for the handlers, and the other is part of a large commercial shoot. Both allow the dogs to work in a more diverse range of terrain and provide the opportunity for more challenging training scenarios.

On the last day, there might be opportunities for a cold game session and remote dummy launchers.

Most handlers consider the social side of the holiday to be just as important as the training, so we also try to go out to a local pub or restaurant one night for dinner.

What level must my dog be at to come on a gundog training holiday?

As a rough guide, the novice and intermediate holidays are suitable for all breeds of gundogs working at Grade 2 to Grade 3 level. For those not familiar with The Gundog Club Graded Assessment Scheme levels, gundogs attending the novice and intermediate holidays should ideally have:

  • a reliable recall,
  • basics off lead heelwork,
  • started training a stop whistle,
  • understanding of left, right and back direction casts,
  • been introduced to blind retrieves,
  • a basic delivery, and
  • some steadiness.

As a rough guide, the advanced holidays are suitable for retriever breeds only working at Grade 4 to Grade 5 level. For those not familiar with The Gundog Club Graded Assessment Scheme levels, gundogs attending the intermediate holidays should ideally have:

  • a solid recall, 
  • good off lead heelwork,
  • a stop whistle at a distance,
  • understanding of left, right and back direction casts,
  • confident outrun on blinds,
  • a reliable delivery to hand, and
  • good steadiness.

An important note on shot...

I often use starter pistols, bang boxes and dummy launchers on the holidays, particularly for the intermediate and advanced groups.

As such, dogs attending the higher level holidays should be happy and confident with the sound of shot. While not essential, it is also preferable that dogs attending the novice level holidays have been introduced to shot at least once before attending.

I do ask that everyone gets in touch before booking so that I can do my best to ensure that you end up on the right holiday.

Where can I stay while I am on a gundog training holiday?

As well as Completely Gundogs, I also run a holiday cottage business Mid Wales Holidays.

Handlers are welcome to book our self-cater accommodation which includes Penrhyllan, the one-bed modern barn conversion which sleep up to 4, Y Beudy, the two-bed cottage which sleeps up to 5, or our two touring caravans.

I always block out extra nights either side of the gundog holidays to ensure handlers can stay the night before and on the last day if they wish and some on the three day holidays also choose to extend their stay for the whole week.

If all our Mid Wales Holidays accommodation is fully booked, there are plenty of dog-friendly BnBs locally too, which we can recommend based on previous clients' experiences.

Provided you choose suitably sized accommodation, you are welcome to bring family, partners, or friends to stay with you.

We now also have Starlink WiFi, which covers the cottages, barns, and caravans. This is useful for people who want to work remotely while you are training during the day.

Or there are tons of things for them to see and do in the local area - you might also want to check them out too.

Just 10 minutes down the road is Llanidloes (voted one of the most desirable places to live in Wales), a very pretty old Welsh market town, with a friendly community, lots of unique shops and places to eat and drink.

Newtown is 15 minutes away in the opposite direction. Set on the banks of the River Severn, this historic market town is famous for its arts and music with museums, art galleries and theatre. It offers a good selection of pubs, restaurants, supermarkets and shops.

Machynlleth, Rhayader and Builth Wells are all within driving distance too, as are Shrewsbury and Ludlow to the East.

Local attractions include Gregynog Hall and Powys Castle, plus there is access to steam train rides, canal boat trips, golf, clay pigeon shooting, simulated game shooting, driven game shooting (during the season), cycling, and horse riding.

There are numerous lovely walks and woodland areas to explore right on our doorstep. We’re located within easy travelling distance of Hafren Forest, Clywedog Reservoir, Elan Valley, and multiple nature reserves.

If you want to go further afield, Aberystwyth and the stunning Welsh Cambrian coastline and beaches are less than an hour’s scenic drive away with plenty of stunning scenery and a traditional town with unique shops. Many areas of outstanding natural beauty, the incredible Snowdonia National Park and the Brecon Beacons are not far either if you fancy more to explore .

Can I organise my own gundog training holiday in Mid Wales?

If you're an experienced group of gundog training friends or trialers, or you are a professional gundog trainer who wants to bring their own clients, we'd love to host you here too.

Our ground has been selected as a venue for both spaniel and retriever working tests and provides ample opportunities to test dogs of all abilities.

You and your private group will have access to:

  • One rough wood with dense cover and cleared tracks for handlers. Great for spaniels.
  • One open wood with a wide, clear avenue through.
  • Two height-adjustable log jumps into the open wood.
  • Two grass fields with mown strips, reedy grass areas for hunting and undulation.
  • One round jumping pen.
  • One cover crop field.
  • One medium size pond in the main field with gentle, sloped entry on one side. Fenced either side to discourage dogs running around.
  • One small pond with island.
  • Full and half-height stock fencing with barbed wire removed for jumping.
  • One enclosed agricultural barn with water and electricity, and seating for 14.
  • One open agricultural barn for sheltered training, or undercover parking.
  • Toilet and shower block.
  • Starlink WiFi access in the holiday cottages, training barn and caravans.

There is also the option to hire our equipment, e.g. dummy launchers, bang box, bolting rabbit, ball dropper etc.

Depending on dates, I can set up drills and scenarios, put blinds out and throw marks so you'll all get to enjoy training.

There is also the potential to use my off-site training grounds which include much more challenging mountain terrain which are used as part of a large commercial shoot during the season.

The on-site self-catering accommodation will take 8-14 people. If you want to bring a larger group, there are plenty of other tried and tested dog-friendly accommodation options nearby too.

What if I can’t come on a group holiday?

Group gundog training holidays are not for everyone. The dates might not work for you, or you might not want to do three full days of training.

For those who want to train here on my grounds, whether you're local, just here for the day, or want to book a stay in one of the Mid Wales Holiday cottages to get your gundog training ‘holiday’ fix, you can also book private 121 training lessons with me.

A one-to-one is also a great option if your dog is not comfortable around other dogs and would therefore struggle on one of our gundog holidays. Or if your dog is working at a puppy Grade 1 or Grade 2 level and isn't quite ready for one of our gundog training holidays.

We can focus the sessions on troubleshooting a specific problem you're having, or I can help you push your gundog training on by setting up some scenarios and exercises using the amazing facilities here.

I don’t typically bring my dogs out while I am instructing, as the training is all about you and your dog, but if you do want to work on honouring and being steady while another dog is working, then I do have some reliable stooge dogs we can work with.

During their stay, most handlers will choose to do a couple of sessions in the morning each day and then use the grounds for private practice in the afternoon.

If you would like more information about booking a group or private gundog training holiday here at Completely Gundogs, please email me (Collette) on with a rough idea of what you’re looking for and when you’d like to come.