By Jessica Fecteau
Updated June 18, 2015 12:00 PM
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Credit: Warner Bros.

What started out as filming YouTube videos for fun with friends turned into Josh Wiggins‘ big-screen movie career.

Wiggins tells PEOPLE, in this week’s issue on stands Friday, he was approached by a casting director after she saw one of his videos.

“I didn’t have prior acting training or anything,” the Houston native says. “I came in for the first audition (for Hellion) and had four or five auditions and after the last one I got asked if I wanted to play the lead.”

Now the 16-year-old will appear on the big screen again this summer casted with another lead role in the war drama Max.

The film is about a family who adopts the service dog of their military son who died while fighting in a war. Wiggins forms a special bond with the dog that takes them on an unexpected journey.

Wiggins says he felt more comfortable on set because of the expertise his father, who is a canine handler, passed down to him.

“He kind gave me a run down and I would handle his dogs and he would kind of teach me how to do it,” Wiggins says. “It helped a lot when we were actually doing the scenes because it’s very specific to what you can and cannot do with the dogs.”

But Wiggins’ on-screen bond with the canine wasn’t all acting.

“Friendships aren’t restricted to humans,” says the dog lover, who spent time with four different dogs on set. “When you spend months everyday with these dogs you get close with every one of them.”

Although he claims to never have finished watching the entire Marley and Me film, he is no stranger to crying around dogs.

“For the emotional scenes it was good to have a dog there – because a dog doesn’t judge you,” he says.

Max is in theaters June 26.