At A Pleasant Dog, we use operant conditioning, classical conditioning and positive reinforcement (a.k.a. science) to help you and your dog be the best team you can be. We are proud to be the premier source for positive reinforcement training in Michigan and to lead our industry through continuing education for trainers, behaviorists and the veterinary community. 

Our trainers are based in Grand Rapids and the lakeshore and all carry or are pursuing industry recognized certifications. They are educated in learning theory, ethology, animal husbandry, health, and more. We keep our skills sharp through continuing education. In addition to dog training, many of our trainers have crossed over from dog training to other species and bring experience in equine learning, feline learning, exotic learning, and more to the classroom.

Just like a human school, we have trainers who specialize in different subjects including puppy socialization, AKC CGC, tricks and sports, fear, anxiety and tough behaviors like aggression and more. Whatever your learning goals, we can help you and your dog. And if we can’t, we will refer you to someone who can. 

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⟶ meet our pleasant people

⟶ view faqs

⟶ contact us

⟶ research

Learn more about our research and publications here!

Aries Maiden
trainer, kennel

Lindsay Carlson, CPTD-KA
business coordinator, trainer

We first met Aries as a little girl and knew right then and there she would grow up to work with animals. Aries helps run our playgroups and train our puppy day camps. She can frequently be seen holding a shy puppy in her coat for extra confidence building. 

Aries started her studies at Michigan State University in the fall, where she hopes to study to become a veterinarian. In her free time, she dances with Imprint Dance Company.

Lindsay graduated from Central Michigan University in 2009 with her Bachelor's Degree in Psychology and Biology. In her degree program, Lindsay studied animal learning and volunteered in a rat and pigeon behavior laboratory, deepening her interest in and knowledge of learning and behavior. After graduation, Lindsay worked in the veterinary field for a few years before leaving to pursue education, working as a special education paraprofessional and as an elementary teacher. When an opportunity to work with canine and human learners presented itself, Lindsay jumped at the opportunity!
Lindsay is so excited to be at A Pleasant Dog teaching dogs and their human handlers and is eager to help people deepen their relationship, communication with, and understanding of their canine companions. Lindsay is pursuing her CPDT-KA certification and completed her FPPE license and looks forward to helping people and their pets grow together! In addition to working on our training team Lindsay also coordinates our human team and heads up our internship program.

Cole Sweda,

Kaylee Barker, VN,BS,ADT

Emily Somerdyke,

Amanda Hardy,

Cole graduated from Calvin University with a degree in social work and psychology. He has always taken interest in caring for others, whether pets or people. Cole found APD first as a client, but quickly took interest in the methods and science behind dog training. After interning at APD to hone his skills, he is excited to be joining our team as a trainer. Cole is currently pursuing his CPDT-KA. In his free time, Cole likes to cook, play fetch with his dog, Claude, and hang around the house doing a whole lot of nothing.

Amanda comes to us with nearly a decade experience in vetmed, where she did anything and everything that needed to be done- reception, triage, nursing, grooming, and more. She even picked up some super cool organizational and customer service skills along the way. Amanda is passionate about providing high-quality, compassionate care to our clients and their dogs. She joins Emily on our administrative team to provide you with the most Pleasant experience possible.
When she’s not making sure everything at A Pleasant dog gets done well, in her free time, Amanda enjoys spending time outdoors with her husband Jason and their beagle mix Reba. She also enjoys spending time inside with her two cats, Bruce Wayne and Hank Williams, along with a good book and hot coffee when the Michigan weather doesn't cooperate. 

Emily started at A Pleasant Dog as an actress in and behind the scenes of our super cute commercials. When she agreed to help out at our front desk she fell in love with the people belonging to our Pleasant Dogs. Now she heads up the front desk and the admin team at A Pleasant Dog. Emily comes to us with experience helping run other small businesses, including her family’s business, Peter Somerdyke plumbing. Emily excels at making sure all the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed so that you and your dog receive the best possible service at our school for dogs. She loves hearing your stories when you call to make training appointments, and makes sure we all know just which special touches you will need to feel welcome and supported. Emily loves to help come up with new designs and products for our Etsy store, and it is her personal mission to make sure your orders are shipped out in a timely fashion. 

In her free time, Emily enjoys dancing, baking, and exploring the Lake Michigan coastline.

Kaylee Barker comes to us with a background in veterinary medicine, recently having graduated with her bachelors degree in veterinary nursing. She is a Fear Free Elite certified professional with years of experience working in rescue and shelter environments. Kaylee has completed an internship with Dr. Jill Sackman of Animal Behavior Consultants of Michigan, and anticipates pursuing certification as a behavior tech during her time with us. Kaylee is Fear Free Elite certified, a Certified Cat Friendly Veterinary professional and is currently finishing her vet tech certification as well as her Accredited Dog Trainer certification through the IAABC.

Kaylee is passionate about cooperative care and pain management and loves working with reactive dogs and their owners. When she’s not training dogs, she works as a cat behavior consultant through Rosie’s Pet Rescue. 

At home, Kayleee shares her life with two dogs: Rosie, a severe abuse and neglect survivor; Annie, an Aussie; and Lucas, a one eared kitty, Lucas, whom she rescued from a hoarding case, as well as her fiancé, Brandon, a human.

Roxanne Grady,CPDT-KA
Stay + Train Manager

Roxanne grew up fascinated with horses and rode religiously for ten years. After her dog Oakley found her, though, her passion for dogs and training emerged. Oakley suffers from anxiety and separation anxiety, which drove Roxanne to study positive reinforcement and science based methodology to help him and others. Through this work she learned that science based methods were the only way she wanted to work with animals (and we love her for it).

Roxanne worked in doggy daycare for two years fine tuning her knowledge and skill in dog behavior and management prior to joining our team.

In her free time, she enjoys taking her dogs, Oakley and Timber on Decompression Walks, playing Fallout 76 with her partner, cooking and in summer, attending music festivals.

Virginia Brophy (she/her)
CPDT-KA & AKC Evaluator

Gin has a diverse background, but when she adopted her first dog, she discovered her passion and has been training ever since. Gin will try out any sport she can with her mixed breed rescue dog, Ferris, who is titled in Rally (RA), Lure Coursing (CA), Trick Training (TKP), Barn Hunt (RATN), Canine Musical Freestyle (W-FDX), and recently earned his C-ATCH title (CPE Agility Trial Champion). With Ferris and her other dogs, she has also dabbled in parkour, flyball, tracking, dachshund field trials, and disc. She is currently exploring the exciting world of Nosework with her dogs, and officializing some of her parkour training with her longhaired dachshund, Rizzo.

In addition to Ferris and Rizzo, Gin also owns a feral rescue dog Charlotte (beagle/rat terrier mix). She has a passion for shaping and confidence building, and loves watching for that moment when it just clicks and the dog starts to figure out what they are learning! Some of her favorite things to train are anything dog sport related, retrieves, and loose leash walking. Her mission as a trainer is to build trust and connection between dog and handler teams.

In her free time, Gin enjoys training and competing with her own dogs, renovating her home, and bird watching. 

Pat Parker(She/her)

Pat has been around dogs throughout her life. Beginning with training them for her father (a dog breeder) as a child and then teaching her first 4-H class at 15, her experience is varied and well rounded.

Pat has been training dogs in agility since 1996 with her first competitions in 1997. She has titled several dogs in conformation, obedience, and agility. Currently she trains regularly with Jen Pinder, international team member, regular contributor to Clean Run Magazine and internationally known agility instructor.

She loves to teach her agility students and loves for her students to do things they never could have imaged themselves doing. Her students have earned numerous titles in all venues. For Pat, teaching people and their pups life skills and agility teams to work together is the most fun thing you can do in life. 

Jenn Gavin, CPDT-KA, FPPE is the owner and founding trainer at A Pleasant Dog. She has been rescuing and training dogs for over twenty-five years. For the last ten years, Jenn has focused her practice on anxious and aggressive animals, and has become one of the most trusted trainers working with aggressive animals in our state. Jenn works extensively with veterinarians and veterinary behaviorists.

Jenn is passionate about learning and sharing what she has learned. She presents frequently to the training and veterinary communities. She has conducted research in animal behavior, and that research has been selected for presentation at the Veterinary Behavior Symposium by the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists.  Jenn has also been an invited speaker before the West Michigan Veterinary Medical Association, The American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, The Science of Animal Behavior Conference, West Michigan Therapy Dogs, and others. She has spoken on a variety of topics including "Helping Fearful & Aggressive Animals - It Takes A Village", with Kathy Sdao and Dr. Jill Sackman, DACVB; "Risky Business - Assessing and Managing Risk in Aggression Cases"; "How to Choose A Trainer" with Dr. Jill Sackman, DACVB; "Covid Puppies"; and "Body Language and Therapy Dogs" and more.
Jenn is a licensed Family Paws Parent Educator! She adores working with families and their dogs.

In her free time, Jenn enjoys camping and hiking with her family and their dogs. She has a thing for old houses and served on the Grand Rapids Historic Preservation Commission from 2017-2021. 

Jenn Gavin(She/Her)
Founder + Head Trainer

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What training methods do you use?

⟶ We concentrate our practice on positive, non-compulsion training methods. We believe a relationship based upon mutual trust and respect is the most effective and humane way to train your dog. To this end, we use treats, toys, and praise as motivational tools to accomplish our training goals. Our approach is supported by the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) and the AVSAB (American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior)

Does this mean I will always have to have treats or toys on me?

⟶ No (although you might be more fun if you do). We use treats and toys to teach new behaviors and phase them out as the behavior is learned.

How old should my puppy be to attend puppy training? Do they need to be fully vaccinated?

⟶ The ASVAB and AVMA recommend that puppies attend group training classes with other puppies with the same health clearances as soon as the first round of shots. At A Pleasant Dog, we prefer that puppies have the second round of shots and we require a clean fecal check to attend school. The risks of communicable diseases are outweighed by the benefits of early socialization (and the fallout of having a puppy who misses socialization during the critical window for socialization, which closes at 12 weeks of age).

What payment methods do you accept?

⟶ Cash, check, major credit cards 

What areas of Michigan do we offer services to?

⟶ Grand Rapids and surrounding areas, Holland, Muskegon, Grand Haven and other lakeshore areas, Ludington, Cadillac, and Baldwin.


At A Pleasant Dog, we strive to make learning with your dog fun and easy through a wide variety of training offerings. We offer everything from one on one private training sessions, to group classes, to stay and train offerings, and everything in between.

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