The Benefits Of A Snuffle Mat For Your Dog

The Benefits Of A Snuffle Mat For Your Dog


Keeping your dog entertained and mentally stimulated is just as important as keeping them physically healthy. Your dog’s playtime helps them let out their extra energy, relieves stress, and provides important enrichment.

An excellent purchase for any dog owner is a snuffle mat. Snuffle mats provide fun and excitement for dogs of all ages and breeds, and they’re incredibly easy to use. Read on to learn more about the benefits of snuffle mats for your pooch.

What is a Snuffle Mat?

A snuffle mat is a dog mat with loose pieces of fabric (usually fleece) attached. There’s plenty of room to hide dog treats inside, and your dog will love using their nose to sniff through the fabric to find them. They can be used with cats and other pets, but they’re particularly great for dogs as they engage their strong sense of smell. Many pet brands make snuffle mats, but you can also make your own DIY snuffle mat at home if you are feeling particularly crafty.

Why Your Dog Needs A Snuffle Mat

There are so many reasons why your dog can benefit from a snuffle mat. This enrichment toy is something that any dog can enjoy, and it’s ideal for both solo play and interaction with you. Here are some of the benefits of a snuffle mat for dogs.

Mental Stimulation

Mental stimulation is so important to your dog’s well-being. Dogs are natural hunters, and they love the challenge of a puzzle. Instinctually, dogs feel like they need to have a job, and can get bored or even sad very quickly without a good outlet for their energy.

Snuffle mats provide an excellent challenge, especially because the treats will be in a different place every time you use it. They’re also an easy way to add some fun into your dog’s routine.

Strengthens Foraging Skills

Dogs are natural foragers, and they have a very strong sense of smell. A snuffle mat gives them a great opportunity to use their noses and practice searching for food. These searching skills can come in handy later when you’re training your pup as well. Since dogs are motivated by enticing smells, a snuffle mat is a toy that can really keep them engaged.

Calms Hyper Dogs

It’s normal for puppies to have plenty of extra energy, and some dogs maintain this exuberant personality throughout their life. If your dog has too much excess energy, a snuffle mat is an effective way to help them calm down. Just 15 minutes of active sniffing can burn as many calories for your dog as an hour-long walk, so it can tire them out very quickly.

The process of searching for food can help your dog focus and relax, and it will prevent them from taking that energy out on you, your family members, or your furniture. A snuffle mat is something your dog can use independently and is something they can play with inside. This makes it a great alternative to going on a long walk if you don’t have time, or to playing outside if it’s too cold.

Slows Down Fast Eaters

Many dogs are highly food-motivated, practically inhaling their meal as soon as you put it in the dish. However, if your dog eats too quickly, it can cause unwanted health issues. A dog who eats too quickly could choke on his food.

In more extreme circumstances, they may vomit because their bodies are unable to process their food quickly enough. Eating too fast can even cause canine bloat, which is a very serious health issue that needs to be treated right away.

If your dog eats too fast, the snuffle mat can act as a dog feeding mat and slow them down. Since the wooly fleece forces your dog to look for each individual piece of food between the strips of fabric, they won’t be able to eat too quickly. Eating more slowly will prevent gastrointestinal issues and help your dog better digest their food.

Reduces Stress

Just like humans, dogs can get stressed out at times, and playing with a snuffle mat can help them calm down. The snuffle mat is a great outlet for their energy, which can help to reduce tension, and it’s also an effective distraction from whatever’s causing the stress. For example, if your dog gets stressed out going to the vet, the groomer’s, or a petsitter’s house, you can use the mat beforehand to help them calm down.

Keeps Your Dog Busy

Even the most attentive dog parents have to take time away from their dogs throughout the day. A snuffle mat is a great way to keep them busy when you can’t play with them. Although your dog will certainly appreciate any encouragement you give them, they can sniff through the mat and find the treats on their own. This is a great way to encourage independence in a clingy pup while still ensuring that they won’t get bored.

Great For Dogs With Mobility Issues

Even dogs with mobility issues need to play, but not all toys are suitable for senior dogs, injured dogs, or dogs with chronic illnesses. Any dog can use a snuffle mat, regardless of their size, age, or mobility level. Since it’s more of a brain puzzle than a strenuous search for food, your mobility-challenged dog can use it without too much strain.

Snuffle mats are also an effective way to keep your dog stimulated after they’ve had surgery or are temporarily unable to participate in their normal playtime activities. Senior dogs often love snuffle mats as well – even if they’re relatively healthy, many senior dogs struggle with other food dispensing toys that require more energy. A snuffle mat is a safe and fun way for your senior dog to get their playtime in.

How to Use A Snuffle Mat

Snuffle mats are very easy to use. Just hide your dog’s favorite treats between the pieces of fleece where they can’t see them, and they’ll soon start sniffing through to find them. If you’re worried about your dog eating too many treats, you can cut up their favorite fruit or vegetable and hide that instead (apples are a great choice for many dogs).

However, keep in mind that the smell is the most engaging part of the snuffle mat for many dogs. You’ll need to make sure that your dog likes the smell of fruits and veggies if you’re going to use them. If you’re using a snuffle mat to help your dog eat more slowly, then you can put their daily portion of dry food in the mat instead.

It can take some time for your pup to get the hang of the snuffle mat, particularly if they are a puppy, so you’ll want to start slow. For their first playtime with the snuffle mat, put just a few treats in the top layers of the fleece, so they aren’t too difficult for your dog to find.

Over time, you can increase the number of treats you put into the mat, and you can hide them further beneath the fleece to create more of a challenge. Encourage your dog to sniff out the treats instead of digging at the mat or trying to lift it up. Your dog will quickly learn that the snuffle mat means it’s time to eat, so they’ll be motivated to find the treats.

Cleaning a snuffle mat should be fairly easy as well. Start shaking the mat out vigorously over a trash can to get any leftover crumbs out. You may need to comb through it with your fingers as well if the food tends to get stuck.

Most snuffle mats can be washed and dried in the machine with your dog’s bedding. Some store-bought snuffle mats may not be suitable for machine washing due to their materials.

Check the manufacturer’s recommendations to see what they recommend before putting your snuffle mat in the washer. If your snuffle mat can’t go in the machine for any reason, hand wash it in cold water with a pet-safe detergent and let it air dry.

Snuffle Mat DIY: How to Make A Snuffle Mat

If you’re feeling crafty, you can actually make your own snuffle mat at home. Making your own snuffle mat is more affordable than buying one, although it takes more time.

You can also use the wooly fleece of your choice to create a snuffle mat with your favorite colors or patterns. For this snuffle mat DIY materials, you’ll need a rubber sink mat with holes, as well as 1.5 yards of fleece. The size of the sink mat will depend on your dog – the larger the dog, the larger you’ll need your mat to be.

Start by cutting the fleece into strips. The strips do not all have to be the exact same size, but you’ll want to aim for strips that are at least six inches long so that you can put them through the holes in the sink mat with a few inches left over for your pup to play with.

Once your strips are cut, you can start putting them onto the sink mat. Put one end of the strip into the first hole in the sink mat, and put the other end into the one next to it. Knot the fleece on top and repeat with all of the holes in the sink mat, moving horizontally.

Once that is completed, you’ll want to repeat the process, but connecting the holes vertically instead of horizontally. You’ll put one end of the fleece into the first hole, and the other end into the hole below it, and then knot it on the other side.

Repeat until there is a fabric strip through each hole, both horizontally and vertically. The result is a snuffle mat that is completely covered in fleece and is great for hiding treats.

Snuffle Mats: Our Final Thoughts

A snuffle mat is a fun way to keep your dog occupied while engaging their natural sniffing and foraging skills. This playtime activity will not only prevent them from getting bored, but it’s also a fun puzzle that provides excellent mental stimulation and can even be used as a training tool.

Snuffle mats even have benefits for your dog’s physical health, as they can stop them from eating too quickly, and give them something to do even if they are mobility compromised. You can make your own snuffle mat at home, but there are also plenty of excellent options on the market to choose from.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I wash my snuffle mat?

Most snuffle mats can be washed and dried in the machine with your dog’s bedding. Some store-bought snuffle mats may not be suitable for machine washing due to their materials. Check the manufacturer’s recommendations to see what they recommend before putting your snuffle mat in the washer.

Can I make my own snuffle mat?

If you’re feeling crafty, you can actually make your own snuffle mat at home. Making your own snuffle mat is more affordable than buying one, although it takes more time.

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