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

Tuesday’s 6:30-7:30pm (March 23-April 20)

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! Owner and dog must attend all five classes in order to be eligible.

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 six-week CGC course provides.

Ages: All ages welcome

Cost: $25

Trick Dog

Tuesday’s (TBD)

4-week class

AKC Trick Dog is our newest class! It 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: 12 weeks to 1 year

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

S.T.A.R. Puppy

Tuesday’s 5:15-6:15pm (March 23-April 20)

The American Kennel Club S.T.A.R. (Socialization, Training, Activity, Responsibility). This class will teach you how to best communicate with your puppy. Organized training classes also provide an opportunity for your dog to socialize with other dogs. You’ll be able to get information on all of your puppy-raising questions including house-training, chewing, and the most effective way to teach practical skills such as coming when called. Upon completion of the course, your puppy will be eligible for the AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy Medal along with other recognition incentives. Owner and puppy must attend all six classes to be eligible.

Ages: 12 weeks to 1 year

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

Reactive Dog Class

Saturday’s 1:00-2:00pm (March 20-April 17)

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

Saturday’s 11:30 am – 12:30 pm (March 20-April 17)

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: 6 months and up

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

Puppy Preschool

Saturday’s 10:15 – 11:15 am (March 20-April 17)

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

Saturday’s 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. We create compatible puppy playgroups to ensure that everyone has a positive experience. Puppies will have the opportunity to play with other puppies along with breaks specifically intended to socialize puppies with other people as well. Through tailored play areas, we will also expose your puppy to new objects and experiences.

Ages: 8 weeks to 6 months

Cost: $55 ($10 discount for HHS alum, email for code)

Speciality Canine Classes

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. Paula is a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, Muskegon Lakeshore Obedience Training Club, and PAWS in Grand Rapids. 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, 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.

One-on-one Training

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