Long before dogs became our best buddies they hunted for their food and explored their world using their noses. You only need to watch a dog on a walk to appreciate the pleasure and joy they experience exploring all the different scents and smells around them! Sniffing, searching and exploring is such an integral part of being a dog that it seems silly not to include more of these activities into their everyday routines… enter the dog snuffle mat!
- What Are Dog Snuffle Mats?
- Do Dogs Like Snuffle Mats?
- Are Snuffle Mats Safe For Dogs?
- What are the benefits of using a snuffle mat for your dog?
- How To Teach Your Dog To Use A Snuffle Mat
- What to Put In A Dog Snuffle Mat?
- How To Make A Snuffle Mat – A Super Simple DIY Mat
- Dog Snuffle Mat Ideas
What Are Dog Snuffle Mats?
A dog snuffle mat is an awesome interactive puzzle toy for your dog that encourages your dog’s natural hunting and foraging instincts. Dog snuffle mats are usually made from various pieces of fleece and fabric that are attached to a base mat. Treats and kibble are hidden within the folds and fabric strips of the snuffle mat and your dog uses his nose to search for his food. By hiding dry dog food and other treats in your dog’s snuffle mat it makes eating a little more difficult and way more fun!
Do Dogs Like Snuffle Mats?
You betcha they do! Dogs have an amazing sense of smell and they love to investigate their world with their noses. They love to sniff everything and anything so hiding your dog’s food and treats in a dog snuffle mat, where they have to sniff it out, is the best thing ever for your dog!
And because snuffle mats are a low-impact form of exercise they are absolutely perfect for dogs of all ages and fitness levels.
Are Snuffle Mats Safe For Dogs?
As long as your dog snuffle mat is made from safe, non-toxic materials and all its fabric is properly secured, your snuffle mat should be 100% safe for your dog or puppy. Of course, if your dog is a chewer you will need to supervise him to make sure that he doesn’t end up chewing off and swallowing a section of the snuffle mat! Snuffle mats aren’t chew toys so it is always better to remove the snuffle mat if you aren’t there to keep an eye on your dog.
What are the benefits of using a snuffle mat for your dog?
1. Mental Stimulation
Forget the boring old food bowl, it is WAY more challenging and fun to search for food hidden away in a snuffle mat! In the wild dogs would have had to hunt for their food so they instinctually enjoy the hide-and-seek quality that snuffle mats bring to food time and playtime.
I recently heard that 15 minutes of snuffle mat fun is equal to almost an hour’s walk! So adding a snuffle mat to your dog’s daily routine can help to relieve boredom and stress and it will burn off any excess energy that could otherwise be used for all sorts of naughty pursuits! And as mentioned, dog snuffle mats are a low-impact form of exercise so dogs of all ages will happily enjoy finding their food.
3. Reduces Boredom
Snuffle mats for dogs are a fantastic addition to your dog’s playtime or mealtime. In the wild, dogs would have spent hours walking around hunting for their food so they had no time to get bored. However, nowadays most dogs get their food regularly and mealtimes are over and done with quickly. By adding a dog snuffle mat to their feeding routine it encourages them to use their brains and sense of smell to find their food which keeps them happy and entertained.
4. Slows Down Dogs That Eat Too Fast
Does your dog eat too fast and gulp down his food? Not anymore! Your snuffle mat will help him to slow his eating down which brings with it all sorts of health benefits such as:
- Better digestion
- Easier weight loss
- Reduced calorie intake
- Better absorption of nutrients
And you can even replace your traditional food bowls with your snuffle mat so that you can take advantage of these benefits at every mealtime. And really, why shouldn’t mealtimes be fun to?
5. Helps Dogs Deal With Anxiety & Reduces Stress
Because dog snuffle mats combine three of your dog’s favorite things – food, sniffing and hunting – a snuffle mat can provide your dog with a much-needed distraction in situations that would otherwise cause fear, stress and anxiety. Many dogs are scared of thunderstorms or fireworks so distracting them with their snuffle mat can help to lower their stress levels.
Dog Field Study conducted a study to measure the effect that sniffing has on a dog’s heart rate. They took the dogs in the study for a walk and each dog was either on a 1.5m leash, a 5m leash or unleashed. Sixty-one dogs took part in the study and it was found that sniffing significantly lowered each dog’s plus rate even while they were walking. And the more sniffing that was done, the more the pulse lowered! So a dog snuffle mat might just be the answer for dogs who are scared or anxious!
Here is a video from Dog Field Study. Keep an eye on the little circle that shows the dog’s pulse as they sniff.
How To Teach Your Dog To Use A Snuffle Mat
It really isn’t difficult to teach your dog to use the snuffle mat and most dogs get the idea really quickly! To start, simply sprinkle a few of your dog’s favorite treats on top of the mat. Once they are happy to sniff out the food on top of the mat then slowly start hiding the treats in the folds and fabric strips on the mat. It couldn’t be easier – game on!
What to Put In A Dog Snuffle Mat?
Dry kibble and treats are a great place to start! But why not get creative and see whether your dog would search for his favorite toy? Also, many snuffle mats are machine washable so you could happily include pieces of cheese or other yummy snacks your dog would enjoy searching for.
How To Make A Snuffle Mat – A Super Simple DIY Mat
A DIY dog snuffle mat is surprisingly easy to make! With just a couple of items, you can make one for your pooch in no time at all! And the best part? This one is completely no-sew!
You will only need a couple of items for your no-sew DIY dog snuffle mat – some type of grid base with holes eg. a rubber outdoor mat, sink mat or some plastic garden mesh and fabric strips.
The Snuffle Mat Base
There are quite a few things that you can use as your base. You can use a more solid type base such as a rubber outdoor mat or even a kitchen sink mat. Plastic garden mesh works really well and as an added bonus you could machine wash it depending on its size and how flexible the mesh is. Another option is to use fabric or even cardboard as a base. Simply cut slits into the fabric or cardboard and use that to make a snuffle mat. Of course, the cardboard probably won’t last very long!
In our example, we decided to use the plastic garden mesh as our base. The mesh we used was quite soft and flexible so it is easy to wash if the mat gets grubby or dirty.
Once you have decided on your base, you will also need a fair amount of fabric or fleece that you can cut into strips. Play with strip length to see what works best for you. We used a combination of different stip lengths and widths to make the mat a little bit more interesting.
How To Make The Snuffle Mat
Once you’ve cut your fabric into strips you simply need to feed the strips through the holes in your base mat. Knot off each piece of fabric and repeat until your mat is completely covered by the fabric strips. Et voila! Your very own handmade DIY dog snuffle mat!
Dog Snuffle Mat Ideas
DIY Snuffle Mats | Bishop Animal Shelter
Bishop Animal Shelter created an awesome video using the same DIY dog snuffle mat idea that we used for our mat. They however used a much heavier base mat. A heavier base could be a good option if your dog is big or boisterous. If he is, a fabric or plastic garden mesh base may be a little bit too easy to pick up and throw around. Of course, each dog is different so you will have to see what works best for you.
Making a Washable Snuffle Mat Dog Toy
Helen Atton from F.I.D.O shows us how to make a washable dog snuffle mat made completely out of fabric. And this one is also no-sew! She uses a piece of fabric for the base. She cuts slits into the base fabric and then knots the fabric strips and attaches them in this way. This type of mat might be a really good option for a dog that loves to slobber and drool because it is super easy to wash.
How To Sew A Dog’s Snuffle Mat
For those who love sewing, this snuffle mat created by The Crafts Channel is simple to sew and is easy to wash if it gets dirty or grubby. It is just like the one we included above but all the strips are sewn in rather than being knotted in.
DIY Dog Sniffing Puzzle Mat
This dog snuffle puzzle mat can be made for around $6. It’s a little bit different in that it doesn’t use strips of fabric to create the snuffle mat’s ruffles. It rather uses shapes and various other cutouts to create different hiding places for your dog’s kibble and treats.
Easy Sew DIY Dog Snuffle Ball
Want to try something a little bit different? In this tutorial, we learn how to make a quick and easy snuffle ball for your dog – no sewing machine required. It works in exactly the same way as a snuffle mat but it can also be rolled, thrown and fetched. This one is sure to become a firm favorite with your dog!
Towel Snuffle Mat
Don’t have time to make a snuffle mat? Use a towel to create a really quick and easy one! In this video (timestamp: 0.30 seconds), My Dog’s Essence shows us how to make a snuffle mat with nothing more than a towel. This is an awesome idea and I must admit I honestly hadn’t even thought of it!
Dog snuffle mats take advantage of a dog’s natural instincts by allowing them to sniff and forage for their food just like they would have done before they became our BFFs! Snuffle mats provide mental and physical stimulation and can help dogs that eat too quickly, are anxious, get bored quickly or are particularly active. And the best part, dogs absolutely love them too!