Sarah Rapisarda has worked in her current position as Behavior Manager at HHS since January 2017. She has bachelor’s degree in Psychology and has achieved her CPDT-KA through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. CPDT-KA certification recognizes the knowledge and experience of professional dog trainers. Additionally, she has been a certified Canine Good Citizen Evaluator since 2018. She is an IAABC Affiliate Member of the Shelter Division and has attended many conferences on animal behavior as well as taken continuing education credits to further her general and applied knowledge of animal behavior and behavioral modification. Following the Humane Hierarchy and LIMA guidelines, her training techniques work to solidify the bond between pet and pet parent by forming a communication built on trust and understanding.

AKC Classes

Tuesdays 5:15-6:15 pm (May 7 – May 28)

4-week class

AKC Trick Dog is for those pup and parent (or sibling) teams that are looking for something a bit more challenging. Learning tricks gives you and your pup yet another way to communicate. Why not collect a Trick Title or two along the way? This class explores cues like Spin, Roll-over, Crawl, and much, much more! A basic cue base is not required, but it is encouraged. This is a four-week class.

Ages: All ages welcome but general cue base is highly encouraged

Cost: $90 ($10 discount for HHS alum, email for code)

Tuesdays 6:30-7:30pm (May 14 – June 11)

5-week class

Started in 1989, the Canine Good Citizen Program (CGC) is designed to reward dogs who have good manners at home and in the community. The CGC Program is a two-part program that stresses responsible pet ownership for handlers and good manners for dogs. All dogs who pass the 10-step CGC test may receive a certificate from the American Kennel Club as well as their handler having bragging rights that their dog is a Good Citizen! The first five classes are prep. The test will be held at a later date dependent on class participants.

Ages: All ages welcome but general cue base is highly encouraged

Cost: $125 ($10 discount for HHS alum, email for code)

By appointment only: Contact Sarah at or 616.399.2119 x113

Just the Canine Good Citizen test. This is for those who feel their dog does not need the extra training the five-week CGC course provides.

Ages: All ages welcome

Cost: $25

General Classes

Saturdays 10:15-11:15 am (TBD)

5-week class

This is an introductory course to basic puppy obedience. We will start to build your puppy’s cue set and expose puppies to a variety of new adventures. In addition to class time, puppies will spend half of the class socializing with other puppies and people.

Ages: 12 weeks to 6 months

Cost: $99 ($10 discount for HHS alum, email for code)

Saturdays 11:30 am-12:30 pm (May 11 – June 8)

5-week class

No matter the age, your dog can learn new tricks and improve his or her manners! This beginners class covers some hard and fast cues but focuses on overall manners and some cooperative care behaviors. This class is a must for pup and parents who are looking for a starting point.

Ages: All ages welcome

Cost: $99 ($10 discount for HHS alum, email for code)

Saturdays 1:00-2:00 pm (May 11 – June 8)

5-week class

This class is dedicated to the pups and parents that struggle when out on walks. Reactive behavior is generally defined as barking, growling, lunging when behind a barrier (usually a leash). We focus on subthreshold training to decrease stress and increase the confidence and comfort of both pup and parent. The classes goal is to form new associations and behaviors to make life more pleasant for everyone! The first day of class is orientation and will not include any dogs.

Ages: 6 months and up

Cost: $125 ($10 discount for HHS alum, email for code)
$50 audit (attendance without dog)

**Please call or email Sarah at 616-399-2119 x113 or to ensure that your dog is a good fit for this class!


Saturdays 9:00 – 10:00 am (If there is no slot on the “Individual Saturday Sign Up” then there is no Playtime that date)

Punch Card with 6-session attendances

Early socialization is a crucial part of your puppy’s development. This drop-in playtime is an easy opportunity for your puppy to learn social skills in a safe and supervised environment. Puppies will have the opportunity to play with other puppies along with interacting with other people and unique play environments. You will receive your punch card at your first Playtime session. Please remember to bring it to class as we will mark it upon entry.

To register for the class, click “ALL CLASS ONLINE REGISTRATION”. Once we have received the registration form, you will receive an email with class details and the individual sign up code.

**Please use the “Individual Saturday Sign Up” so that we can ensure we do not have too many puppies attending a single session of Playtime. Note that if you do not sign up for a Saturday session, you may be turned away. You will receive an email with the code and class details within 72hrs of signing up for the class.

Ages: 8 weeks to 6 months

Cost: $55 (email any questions to

Behavior Consultation

For information on behavior consultations, please click here.

Workshops and Seminars


A mixture of instructor led and self-directed practice on a variety of topics. Beginner and experienced handler/dog pairs welcome!


Round table discussion and instruction on topics best discussed without canines present! Some seminars will be virtual; see each seminar description for full information.

Visiting Trainer Classes

Active Dog (with Ruthie Cooke)

5-week class

Has your daily walk around the block become not enough for your dog? Would you like a fun activity you and your dog can share? Look no further! This class will guide you and your pup through the steps and key cues to accomplish pulling sports like bikejoring (bike), skijoring (ski), and canicross (human legs!) or just help you get a little more out of your pup’s daily walk . Big dogs, little dogs, active dogs, lazy dogs and every size and energy in between are welcome! These activities are a great bonding experience and will add a new level to your dog’s daily exercise routine.

Body harnesses are required for this class. Please note that the first day of class is orientation, so do not bring your dog to class. Please bring something to take notes with, if you so choose. If you do not currently have a body harness for your dog, please do not purchase one until after orientation so that you can purchase one with more knowledge.

A bike or scooter is not required for class (although it is a fun activity for you and your pup)! This class can also serve to shape skills for hiking, jogging, and skiing!

Ages: All ages welcome

Cost: $135 ($10 discount for HHS alum, email for code)

One-on-one Training with Dog Blessed, LLC

Sometimes you just need to cut out the distractions and learn one-on-one with the trainer! Paula Smith also offers one-on-one training sessions here at Harbor Humane Society or in your home based on your needs. Paula will work with you to help you communicate better with your dog and help both of you grow your bond! Paula donates part of her fee to HHS to help us continue our efforts. She is a certified dog trainer through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers.

To schedule, email Paula at or call at 616.430.0297

Meet the Trainer!

Paula Smith is a certified professional dog trainer through the Certified Council for Professional Dog Trainers and is the owner of Dog Blessed, LLC. Paula strives to enhance the lives of dogs and teach others about dog behavior and humane science based training techniques. In her spare time, she likes to spend time training her own dogs and trialing in Agility and Nosework. Her dogs hold titles in CPE agility, AKC agility, UKC, AKC, CPE, and NACSW Nosework, Therapy Work, Advance Canine Good Citizenship, Tricks, Rally, and are always trying new things. Her goal is to strengthen the relationship between humans and canines in the home by focusing on enhancing cross species communication. She uses scientific based training focused on positive reinforcement and classical conditioning.

Meet the Trainer!

Jodi Jarvis Therrian has been trained in animal life saving skills by Denise Fleck, the Pet Safety Crusader ™, who has taught more than 20,000 humans animal life saving skills Fleck has authored more than a dozen books and appeared on numerous TV and radio programs and in print. Jodi is delighted to bring programs like Pet CPR and First Aid to your community. Jodi is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA), a Certified Trick Dog Instructor, an AKC Star Puppy and CGC Evaluator. She is always striving to learn more and believes in continuing education She wants to help dogs (and all animals) live their best lives in honor of her best teacher and soul dog, Odin J.