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 Instructor 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.

Canine Good Citizen

Tuesdays 6:15-7:15pm (March 28 – April 25)

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 owners and basic 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 owner 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)

Canine Good Citizen (Test Only)

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

Trick Dog

Tuesdays 5:15-6:15 pm (May 16 – June 6)

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)

Saturdays 1:00-2:00 pm (May 6 – June 10) *NO CLASS ON MAY 13*

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 desensitizing and counter-conditioning techniques to decrease stress and increase the confidence and comfort of both pup and parent. 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!

Manners Class

Saturdays 11:30 am-12:30 pm (May 6 – June 10) *NO CLASS ON MAY 13*

5-week class

No matter the age, your dog can learn new tricks and improve his or her manners! This beginners class covers the basics like Sit, Stay, Down, Leave It, Place, walking on a loose leash, and recall. This class is a must for pup and parents who have not attended an obedience class before.

Ages: All ages welcome

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

Puppy Preschool

Saturdays 10:15-11:15 am (May 6 – June 10) *NO CLASS ON MAY 13*

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)

Puppy Playtime

Saturdays 9:00 – 10:00 am (Please keep an eye on Facebook for cancellations)

6-week punch card

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.

**Due to space constraints we are now limiting it to two handlers per puppy. We are also utilizing a sign up link to avoiding turning puppy and parent pairs when we reach capacity. The Saturday session sign up button is below**

Ages: 8 weeks to 6 months

Cost: $55

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!


What Do I Do with My Hands?, Tuesday, November 22, 6:30-8:00pm, $25

Gearing up for Thanksgiving, let’s talk about appropriate greetings for dogs and humans! This seminar will go over how to set your dog up for success with visitors (dog and human) coming into the home. Discussion will be led by Sarah with time for questions at the end. Bring materials to take notes if you wish to do so!

Active Dog, Thursday, December 1, 7:00-8:00pm, $20

Do you have an active dog at home who is running you ragged? Have you considering biking, running or skiing with your pup, but you’re not sure where or how to start? This seminar is for you! This seminar is an introductory course on skijoring, bikejoring, and canicross. We will discuss equipment, training, and best practices. Discussion will be led by Ruthie with time for questions at the end. Bring materials to take notes if you wish to do so!

Dog Training 101, Friday, December 2, 6:30-7:30pm, $20

New to dog training or wanting to brush up on basic training principles? This class meets both goals. We will cover marker words, clickers, luring, shaping and capturing; all of the basic skills needed to start building cooperative communication between you and your pup. Discussion will be led by Sarah with time for questions at the end. Bring materials to take notes if you wish to do so!

Getting to know your Reactive Dog, Friday, December 9, 6:15-8:15pm, $25

If you have a reactive dog at home you probably know what reactivity is. It is the barking, the screaming, the lunging behaviors that keep you secluded at home and off-hour excursions. This seminar will go over the science behind reactivity; what it is and some simple ways you can start to help your pup cope with this very human world they live in. Discussion will be led by Sarah with time for questions at the end. Bring materials to take notes if you wish to do so!

Visiting Trainer Classes

Active Dog (with Ruthie Cooke)

Tuesdays 7:00-8:00pm (TBD)

5-week class

Has your daily walk around the block become not enough for your dog to get all their energy out? Would you like a fun activity you and your dog can share? Look no further! This class will help you and your pup learn the steps and key cues to accomplish bikejoring, skijoring, and canicross. Big dogs, little dogs, and every size in between are welcome! These activities are a great bonding experience for you and your pup!

Body harnesses are required for this class. Please note that the first day of class is orientation, so please do not bring your dog to class. Please bring something to take notes with, if you so choose.

Ages: All ages welcome

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

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.

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