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. Our spacious accommodations are designed for your dog’s health and happiness. Our class sizes are small, allowing us to give your pup the personal attention to the training they need. Safety is our first priority: our property is fully enclosed! We pride ourselves in giving each dog individual attention and love.

Visit the Training Center

Our Philosophy:

Improve Behavior and Build Relationships

Our training programs are what really sets us apart.

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. 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 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. 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 Official Puppy Snuggler.

Kaylee Tolbert: I left my full time job as a dental assistant two years ago to complete my bachelors in biology at Grand View University to pursue a career in veterinary medicine. Over the last two years I have been employed at a veterinary hospital in the Jordan Creek area and from my experience there I became interested in animal behavior, specifically in dogs. My eagerness to learn how to become a dog trainer lead me to shadow classes Tawnya taught at Happy Areas while receiving my KPA in the Puppy Start Right program. Since then I have been teaching a Puppy Preschool class at the veterinary clinic I work at and continued shadowing and assisting Tawnya at Happy Acres.

What I love about training is how to help owners communicate with their dogs, and watching their relationship grow. I enjoy seeing the puppies confidence build as well as the owners, it is definitely a rewarding experience. I love the relationship I have built with my Boston Terrier through the different classes I have taken at Happy Acres, such as nose work and tricks classes. My goal as a trainer is to create the same bonding experience for the owners and their puppies while also installing fun ways to continue learning.

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