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.
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. She carries a CPDT-KA certification from the national Association of Dog Training Professionals (ADTP), which supports this scientifically-based method. Rather than traditional training, this method encourages 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: This 12-year-old junior handler wants to be a dog trainer when she grows up, and she’s well on her way! 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 fulltime, running, and being everywhere Paige needs to be, and her dad, Kent, is a dedicated father and chauffeur.
Claire Terhaar: Our 16-year-old assistant works all around the property, taking the dogs for walks, cleaning the boarding and training areas, and helping with boarding check-in and check-outs. She’s also enthusiastically working with her own silver Lab named Remington Steele (“Remy”) on K9 NoseWork.
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