Everything you need to know about snuffle mats for dogs, from what they are and how to use them to the benefits and DIYing your own! They’re a great and effective way to enrich your pup’s meal time with engagement and activity.
What is a snuffle mat?
The world of puzzle dog toys is a large one. But there’s one toy in particular that stands out as original and, well, interesting — the snuffle mat!
These mats are typically made of fabric, fleece, and/or rope and contain secret little compartments and layers. They’re essentially a mat that easily hides away dog food and treats, so your pup has to use its nose to dig out pieces! Snuffle mats work well as interactive toys and they engage your pup’s nose and brain to make them really work for each bite.
In fact, just 10 minutes of mental exercise is equivalent to about an hour of physical exercise, making snuffle mats great for high energy dogs.
Benefits of using a snuffle mat
Like other puzzle toys, there are many benefits to using a snuffle mat.
Snuffle mats slow down eating: Many dogs like to chow down their food at lightning speed. A snuffle mat makes them work for it! Slow feeders like the snuffle mat can help with bloating and other side effects of fast eating.
Snuffle mats teach them to use their nose: Snuffle mats engage one of dogs’ strongest senses by requiring them to sniff out food. This action-and-reward system sharpens their sense of smell!
Snuffle mats provide mental stimulation: Snuffle mats require work from your dog which results in mental stimulation. This can prevent destructive behaviors like chewing furniture or other household items.
Snuffle mats build confidence: Dogs seek to build confidence, and they’re able to do so as they successfully complete tasks. A snuffle mat can help your dog build confidence by learning something new and enjoying the reward of their hard work!
Types of snuffle mats available on the market
Snuffle mats come in all different types, materials, and varieties. Here are three that you may like for your pup:
- AWOOF Mat: This mat has multiple types of compartments and is great for all pets (including pigs — who would’ve thought?!). The great thing about this one is that it folds up like an envelope for easy storing and transporting.
- RUNDA Mat: This mat features one type of foraging style, and the long length of the fabric pieces require your dog to really go to work.
- ZMUBB Mat: Finally, this mat includes multiple compartments, some of which close with carrot toppers. These will require extra sniff searching from your pup! The carrots act as squeakers as well. (This one is Rhubarb’s personal favorite!)
Enrich your pup’s snack time with a brain-boosting and activity-promoting snuffle mat!
How to choose the right snuffle mat for your dog
Snuffle mats come in all shapes and sizes, and certain types are best for different skill levels.
It is recommended to get a snuffle mat fit for your dog’s age and experience — a full-grown dog will require a more complex mat than a puppy! Start with something easy, and make things more complex as the dog grows and becomes more skilled.
Tips for using a snuffle mat with your dog
Snuffle mats are a great way to make mealtime more engaging, so don’t be afraid to pour a whole serving of kibble in there! I like serving Rhubarb meals this way, so I just sprinkle her kibble all over, extending her mealtime dramatically as she forages out all the tasty bits.
In fact, starting with a full serving of kibble may be a great way to introduce the mat to your dog. With more food sprinkled about, it will be easier for them to find it and begin getting the gist of the toy. You can reduce the amount of food or work down to sprinkling just a couple of pieces inside as they become more skilled!
Any type of non-liquidy or buttery treat will work well with the mat (basically, anything that won’t mess up the fabric). Regular dog treats are great, as are small pieces of cheese, chopped carrots or celery.
Yes, snuffle mats can be washed! First be sure to shake out any food that may be trapped inside. Then machine wash on cold using the delicate cycle. Either hang to dry or tumble dry on low heat.
Snuffle mats are great mental stimulation and can be used at every meal for your dog! I like to keep a variety of snuffle mats around so that I can rotate them out, keeping my pup from getting bored of them.
How to make a snuffle mat
A snuffle mat is a great way to keep your dog entertained and engaged. They can smell all the different scents hidden inside, and it’s a fun game for dogs to play. You can make your own snuffle mat using fabric, fleece, or rope. Have fun watching your dog explore and sniff around their new toy!
There are lots of different ways to make a snuffle mat, and you can use whatever materials you have on hand. Here’s one easy way to make one!