October 12, 2018 09:00 AM

Bryce Dallas Howard will steal your heart in her upcoming film A Dog’s Way Home.

In a PEOPLE exclusive trailer, the 37-year-old actress voices Bella, a dog determined to find her way back home after she gets lost from her owner.

Howard, who took care of a goat barn while raised by her director father Ron and mother Cheryl, tells PEOPLE she was inspired to take part in the film after A Dog’s Purpose helped her children grieve through the loss of their cat. [While A Dog’s Way Home isn’t a sequel to the 2017 film, they’re both based on books written by W. Bruce Cameron.]

“We saw A Dog’s Purpose before our cat died, and we intentionally watched it with our kids and it really, really helped,” the actress says.

Bryce Dallas Howard plays a lovable puppy, Bella, trying to find her way home after losing her owner
James Dittiger/Columbia Pictures. Inset: Nicholas Hunt/Getty

While the mother of two says she was “a wreck” during that film, she reveals A Dog’s Way Home is much more of an “adventure” film.

“With this movie, it’s really emotional and it gets you,” she says. “But I would say it’s fun. There’s a lot of fun, there’s a lot of adventure. The movie is driven by the drive of this dog to find her way home and be reunited with her person. I think it’s really appropriate for younger kids.”

RELATED: Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard’s Kids Are Best Buddies: ‘Jack’s in Love’

Howard shares two children with her husband, actor Seth Gabel: 11-year-old Theodore and 6-year-old Beatrice, both of whom can’t wait to see their mom’s new film.

Bryce Dallas Howard
Martina Tolot

“They’re so excited and I think in particular they’re so excited because there are incredible relationships between animals in this film,” she says. “Bella was raised by a cat and in turn, she ends up being best friends with a cougar! [W.] Bruce Cameron writes about animals and [their] relationships with human beings. It genuinely acknowledges the emotion of it and how intense it is.”

“So, this is an incredible opportunity. I’m so grateful,” she adds.

The film also stars Ashley Judd, Edward James Olmos, Alexandra Shipp and Barry Watson.

A Dog’s Way Home is in theaters Jan. 11.

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