K9NW in the Shelter

K9 Nose Work® can be a powerful enrichment and positive socialization tool in the shelter environment. 

We are dedicated to donating our time to help shelters implement K9 Nose Work® into their enrichment programs.

We offer a discount to families with recently adopted dogs, who wish to participate in K9 Nose Work® classes as well.

Currently, Jennifer Porth goes to Thomas J O’Connor Animal Control and Adoption Center in Springfield, MA two days a week to help Deb Soricelli with their nose work enrichment. The whole team at TJO has been absolutely wonderful and dedicated to having K9NW as part of their enrichment program.

Many dogs at TJO, and other shelters across the US, have benefited from participating in this natural hunting game; the mental stimulation, physical activity, and the positive association with humans (who provide access to the fun game) can help them cope with life in the shelter as well as increase their potential for adoption through positive engagement with people.

Can our shelter run such a program?

YES, and we want to help you get started!  We want to support and help your staff and volunteers bring this wonderful enrichment activity to the dogs under your care.

THEN we want to offer your adoptive families a discount for enrolling in K9NW classes with us! We hope this will cultivate the human-animal bond when they first bring their new dog home and encourage lifelong interest in enrichment activities for their dog. An engaged and focused dog is a happy dog and a happy dog = happy owners!

We even have some resources for you to use such as nose work kennel tags that can be affixed to the kennel cards to highlight that dog’s participation in nose work.


But our shelter doesn’t have enough staff as it is and we usually have our volunteers just walk the dogs…

Most volunteers are suited to assisting a staff member in nose work. Most seasoned volunteers are capable of holding nose work enrichment sessions with the dogs.

K9NW does not use clickers or obedience so once the people understand the concept of how the game is presented (to the dog) it is usually suitable for most staff and seasoned volunteers to implement even if they are not experienced dog trainers; though behavior observation is important for safety.

Some benefits of K9NW

  • It can help dogs calm down and build focused drive toward a goal.
  • It can help keep dogs from going ‘kennel crazy’ and lessen (or perhaps prevent) stereotypies.
  • It can create positive associations with people; this benefit can often be the most dramatic for shy/timid dogs.
  • It provides mental stimulation and physical activity.
  • It can be done inside so weather need not interfere.
  • It’s a cool activity that can intrigue people to learn more the dog participating in ‘pet dog detection.’
  • Because the dogs are focused on the hide location and the game they are less likely to:
    • jump on the handler,
    • muzzle punch the handler,
    • pull or tug on handler’s clothing,
    • mouth the handler,
    • pull or strain on the leash,
    • bark at other dogs (each dog searches alone), so there are many behaviors that the dog is NOT practicing  when engaged in nose work.


Are our dogs suitable candidates?

YES! The beauty of the way we do K9 Nose Work is that it capitalizes on what dogs already know how to do…hunt around for food! They love it and even shy dogs can come out of their shell in just a few sessions!

Most dogs who have passed behavior screening are suitable. However, dogs who have shown resource guarding tendencies will need to be carefully considered as this game is played with primary reward (food) to begin with. These dogs are not necessarily precluded, but should be considered on a case by case basis. It is strongly recommended that only staff and CNWI/ANWI experienced in animal behavior modification consider using K9NW as an enrichment or behavior modification tool with resource guarders.

Will this cost an arm and a paw?

NO! K9NW is VERY INEXPENSIVE to implement. You need some high value treats, some cardboard boxes, some clear floor space, and a hungry dog!


Please visit their webpage below if you’re interested in adopting a great dog or to let them know you support their efforts to use K9 Nose Work as part of their enrichment program.


K9 Sniff Works welcomes inquires from shelter groups who wish to add K9NW to their enrichment program. Please contact us at   K9sniffworks@gmail.com