Zac Efron: I Love Working with Dogs

04/04/2012 at 09:00 AM EDT

Zac Efron Loved Working with Dogs in New Movie
Zac Efron
Lionel Hahn/Abaca

Zac Efron

Zac Efron

Zac Efron keeps his love life tight under wraps, but one thing he's not afraid to open up about? Getting lucky with a bunch of dogs!

In his new film The Lucky One, the 24-year-old plays a Marine who falls in love with a woman after taking a job at her family-run kennel.

"I grew up with dogs, so I love working with them," Efron told PEOPLE at a press conference in Los Angeles. The pooches in the film were so smart, "they could probably drive you home," he joked.

Aside from making new four-legged friends, Efron and Taylor Schilling – who plays his love interest in the movie and "had so much fun with the dogs" – also hit it off with the trainers on set.

"We became best friends with [the trainers]," said Efron. "They were such a presence on set. These were the most highly trained dogs you've ever seen in the world."

The best part of working with the animals, according to Blythe Danner, who plays a grandmother in the film, was the "playfulness and humanity" they brought to set.

"One big dog kept leaning against me because he had a bad hip," she shared. "It was so sweet. They often say, 'Don't be upstaged by children or animals.' In this case … [the dogs] just enhanced the whole thing."

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