About Happy Acres

Happy Acres sits just outside of Des Moines, just west of US-169, in beautiful and scenic Madison County.

Our Property:

A Better Place for Your Pups

You know Happy Acres is different the moment you come through the gates. Rather than the sad little cages lining the walls at most boarding facilities, our spacious accommodations are designed for your dog’s health and happiness. We host a maximum of six dogs at any time, allowing us to give your furry friends the personal attention they deserve. Safety is our first priority: our property is fully enclosed and the boarding area is surrounded by a second enclosure. Even “escape artists” won’t get out!

When you arrive, we’ll give you a tour of the property so you can see where your dog will be staying and meet the staff who will be making them comfortable. We’ve expanded our facilities to two boarding houses, the “K9 Kastle” and the “Puppy Palace,” which share a spacious outdoor courtyard area. We’ve designed these heated and air-conditioned facilities to help your dogs feel safe and have their own space; there are no side-by-side runs, each boarding area has its own entrance and run space, and we can put barriers up to reduce stress and increase privacy if appropriate.

Unlike other boarding facilities, we give each dog special attention and love. Mornings start with a trip outside, breakfast, and a long walk. Then, throughout the day, our staff visits to make sure the dogs can go out to use the bathroom rather than having to do it in the run area. Your dog will get the opportunity to play, exercise, and relax rather than being cooped up in a traditional boarding facility.

Visit the Training Center

Happy Acres Dog Training

 

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Our Philosophy:

Improve Behavior and Build Relationships

Our “board and train” program is what really sets us apart. Offered for 7, 10, and 15-day stays, we can work on improving your dog’s behavior and teaching skills like “sit,” “stay,” and leash walking. Not only will your dog be safe and well cared for while you are away, we will send her home better than we got her!

Beyond boarding, our 7-week manners, basic skills, and advanced classes help you and your dog build a relationship and connect with one another through positive reinforcement, trust, and downright fun exercises. All classes are held in our spacious, brightly lit, and heated training center, located on our property just steps from our boarding accommodations. The training center provides a friendly, safe, comfortable environment for you and your dog to challenge each other and learn to communicate. Small classes (4-5 dogs and owners max) allow us to give you and your dog one-on-one attention and assistance and are less distracting and stressful for both dogs and humans.

Training with your dog improves your quality of life and is fun for both of you! With two years of training, you will be amazed at the companion you will have. But did you know that the communication skills you develop and improve during the training process can also help you with your human relationships? Many people have noticed that dog training helps you learn to:

  • Effectively communicate what behavior you want
  • Reinforce desirable behavior and accomplishments
  • Practice patience and self-reflection when you don’t get the results you want
  • Stop accidentally reinforcing undesirable behavior
  • Encourage independence and creativity
  • Re-evaluate and re-formulate your strategy to communicate better.

All of these are skills that will enhance not only your relationship with your dog but your communication and leadership skills with humans, too! We look forward to the opportunity to help both you and your dog grow and learn.

Our People

Meet the Happy Acres Humans

Tawnya Lichtenwalter owns Happy Acres Dog Training with her husband, Bob, and two labs, Bella and Ray. They moved from Washington State to Iowa to make Tawnya’s dream of a custom designed training and boarding facility a reality. After more than 20 years of hands-on dog training and competing, Tawnya loves training dogs of all breeds and ages. Currently, Bella and Ray are working on Competition Obedience and K9 NoseWork (see our class descriptions for more detail).

Tawnya embraces force-free training methods because they are a kinder and more effective way to achieve results, teach obedience, and help your dog learn behaviors. Rather than traditional training, force-free training methods encourage your dog to offer behaviors without fear of retribution. They actually learn to love learning! Tawnya’s favorite moment is when people “get it” and realize that they can communicate effectively with their dog, which makes the dog happier and more trusting of them (and vice versa). Training helps develop your dog’s innate abilities and learn more about his personality and talents. If you want to understand your dog better and have a better relationship, Tawnya can help you learn how!

Bob Lichtenwalter is the co-owner of Happy Acres, helping with the maintenance, backup, and essential administrative stuff that goes along with running a business as well as being an unparalleled cheering squad for training and competitions. His most important role, however, is Official Puppy Snuggler. When he comes home from work, it’s time for “Puppy Therapy”: relaxing and decompressing with the residents of the K9 Kastle and the Puppy Palace. You’ll likely see Bob around the property when you’re dropping off or picking up your dogs, since he is frequently in the office while Tawnya is training.

Happy Acres also has a few junior helpers you might see on your visits, including:

Paige MacDonald: Paige started training when she was 10 years old, and has been working with her dogs for the past three years! She’s patient, kind, and extremely diligent in keeping and helping develop records and logs for the dogs we board and train. She also trains two dogs, both rescues: Maggie, a super-smart, high-energy Labradoodle, and Chase, a huge, very chill Great Pyrenees, Mastiff, Golden Retriever, and Poodle mix. Her mom, Beth, trains and assists with puppy classes in addition to working full-time, running, and being everywhere Paige needs to be, and her dad, Kent, is a dedicated father and chauffeur.

Christine Clark: Christine grew up in Johnston, IA and graduated with a degree in psychology from Grand View University. During college, she began working at a doggy daycare. There she found her passion for all animals. Since then, she has become more interested in training, and rehabilitation of animals. In the past, Christine has fostered multiple animals while she searched to give them their furever home.

In her free time, Christine enjoys doing pet photography and spending time with her family, her husband, Jeff, and their newborn baby, Cambree. And of course her fur babies, Elsker the pup, Kys the kitten, and Angel the horse. Her dream is to become an animal behaviorist/psychologist or to become involved in wildlife rehabilitation. She is so excited to be a part of the Happy Acres family and cannot wait to meet all of the dogs and their owners.

Jill Gonder: Being a part of the Happy Acres team gives Jill an opportunity to do something that she enjoys and not worry about work. She owns her own business, which can be stressful. However, being with the dogs at Happy Acres is fun and they always make her laugh. She loves to watch how dogs interact with their environment and think through things. The main reason she trains is because of the relationship she’s built with her own dogs, and she likes showing people different ways to interact with their own dogs. Even if it’s just making sure the dog can be calm in a crate.

Jill remembers one of the classes that she attended with her dog. She was so worried because her dog didn’t do the assigned task the way the trainer had showed. The trainer didn’t offer any other ways to do the task, and Jill was stressed. She thought she and her dog were failures. Since then, she’s learned that there is more than one way to train a dog. It’s not a one size fits all thing! So, she enjoys showing other people ways that they can help their dog, have fun, and build a relationship, all at the same time!

Happy Acres sits just outside of Des Moines, just west of US-169, in beautiful and scenic Madison County. Come check us out! We would love to meet you.

1526 Hogback Bridge Road
Winterset, Iowa 50072

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