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I love snuffle mats for dogs because they make for a great enrichment activity.
Who hasn’t got a story about a bored dog who got themselves into mischief?
I mean, we all know that dogs don’t ruin our favourite pair of shoes on purpose, but we would still prefer it if they didn’t.
The reason dogs get themselves into trouble is often because they’re bored.
If a dog is bored and has nothing else to do, they will come up with their own idea of a good time.
In order to prevent accidents from happening, we need to provide our dogs with an outlet for their energy.
Many of us struggle to provide our dogs with an adequate amount of physical exercise, so a great alternative is to provide our dogs with enrichment activities through mental stimulation.
A lot of the time, enrichment activities can make your dog more tired than a jog around the neighbourhood.
This is great, because as we all know: a tired dog is a good dog.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the use of snuffle mats for dogs.
Let’s get started.
Table of Contents
- What is a Snuffle Mat?
- Where to buy a Snuffle Mat in Australia?
- What size Snuffle Mat should you buy?
- How to use a Snuffle Mat?
- What do you put in a Snuffle Mat?
- Snuffle Mats vs Slow Feeder
- Are Snuffle Mats good for dogs?
- Are snuffle mats good for puppies?
- Do Snuffle Mats make dogs tired?
- Are Snuffle Mats safe for dogs?
- What are Snuffle Mats made of?
- Can you wash a Snuffle Mat?
- DIY: How to make a Snuffle Mat?
What is a Snuffle Mat?
A snuffle mat is an interactive enrichment puzzle that will engage your dog’s mind and body. You can purchase one online (on Etsy for example) or you can get crafty and make one yourself (we’ll show you how at the end of this article).
Snuffle mats are typically in a square format and are made of a rubber mat with holes and fleece material.
If you have a snuffle mat with long fleece strips, the puzzle will be harder for your dog. If the fleece strips are short, the puzzle is easier for your dog. Dog owners often start with shorter strips first and then work their way up to long strips.
Where to buy a Snuffle Mat in Australia?
Snuffle mats for dogs are simple to make yourself but it’s a time-consuming task, so you might prefer to buy one. They can be tricky to find in pet stores, so we typically recommended buying them through Etsy.
On Etsy, you can buy handmade and unique items from creative entrepreneurs in Australia.
Here are some examples (click on the image to learn more about the product, including prices):
Dog Snuffle Mats from Sydney, New South Wales
Dog Snuffle Mat from Adelaide, South Australia
Snuffle Mats from Perth, Western Australia
Dog Snuffle Mats from Sunshine Coast, Queensland
Dog Snuffle Mats from Melbourne, Victoria
What size Snuffle Mat should you buy?
Personally, I don’t think the size matters much when it comes to snuffle mats.
You can get started with a small one, because they’re often cheaper, to see how much your dog likes it.
If you like playing with snuffle mats with your dog frequently, you might like to buy a bigger snuffle mat. That said, you can also use two small snuffle mats simultaneously, or stick with your original small snuffle mat.
There aren’t any set in stone rules, and it’s best to do what works best for you and your dog.
If further down the track, you want to make sniffing games longer or more complex, you can simply add some treats wrapped in empty toilet paper rolls or egg cartons to your play area, additionally to the snuffle mat.
How to use a Snuffle Mat?
Snuffle mats are easy to use and they’re great for providing mental stimulation to your dog. You can also check out this article to learn more about other different types of enrichment feeding for mental stimulation: A Guide to Enrichment Feeding
The idea of the snuffle mat is to place your dog’s kibble in the mat for them to find. If you don’t feed kibble to your dog, you can place a few treats in the mat for your dog to find.
As you can imagine, this will slow your dog down quite a bit while they’re eating. It also encourages your dog to use their nose, which provides mental stimulation as your dog is trying to find the food hidden in the mat.
Note that like with all games and toys, dogs should be supervised while engaging with the snuffle mat. Remove it once your dog has found all the food or treats to prevent them from eating the mat or peeing on it.
What do you put in a Snuffle Mat?
Small, dry treats are best to be put in snuffle mats to avoid making an unnecessary mess.
If you feed your dog kibble, you can use some of their daily ration for the snuffle mat.
We know of a few dog owners who’s pups didn’t care for kibble but are obsessed with Ziwi Peak Air-Dried dog food. In particular the Tripe & Lamb seems to be very popular.
Note that Ziwi Peak can be expensive as the brand is 100% sourcing from ethical and sustainable small farms in New Zealand (click here to check the latest price).
If you’re after something more cost-effective, you could scout your local farmers market for a small business near you that sells dehydrated jerky treats for dogs.
Jerky treats can be broken up in tiny pieces and work well with snuffle mats too. Another alternative could be to make a small investment in a food dehydrator and safe money in the long run by making your own jerky treats for your dog.
Snuffle Mats vs Slow Feeder
Both snuffle mats and slow feeders are enrichment feeding toys. They can help your dog to feel more optimistic by pleasing their natural foraging instincts, and they also make them eat more slowly.
You don’t have to choose between one or the other. In fact, you can make your dog’s life more interesting by using both, on rotation.
Are Snuffle Mats good for dogs?
Yes, snuffle mats are good for dogs as there are many benefits for using them.
One of the benefits is that they’re slowing down fast eaters. If you feed your dog their main meal from a snuffle mat, your dog will naturally eat slower.
Another benefit is that your dog gets to use their nose during the activity, which is hugely satisfying.
You can also use a snuffle mat to practice self-control exercises with your dog. For example, you can tell your dog to sit and wait while you prepare the snuffle mat.
Are snuffle mats good for puppies?
Yes, snuffle mats are good for puppies as they provide mental stimulation by taping into your pup’s foraging instincts.
That said, puppies also love to chew on items that shouldn’t be chewed, so it’s extra important to supervise your puppy while giving it access to a snuffle mat. The last thing you want is for your pup to start eating the mat instead of the food that’s inside it!
Do Snuffle Mats make dogs tired?
Yes. A snuffle mat is an enrichment toy, and playing with them will make your dog more tired.
Are Snuffle Mats safe for dogs?
A snuffle mat is an enrichment toy and it’s best to supervise your dog while they play with it.
The idea behind playing with snuffle mats is for your dog to sniff out and eat treats that you hide. Your dog shouldn’t chew or eat the snuffle mat. Once your dog has sniffed out all the treats, put the snuffle mat away.
What are Snuffle Mats made of?
It depends on the snuffle mat you buy, but most of them are made from polyester fleece or cotton fleece.
Can you wash a Snuffle Mat?
Yes, snuffle mats are normally washable, but it will depend on the respective mat whether they are machine washable or need to be washed by hand.
If you purchase a snuffle mat online, check with the supplier on how to wash the mat. Often the best option will be a simple hand wash.
This is to guarantee that you get to keep your snuffle mat for a long time. Many of them are not cheap if you buy them, and they can be pretty time-consuming to make yourself. In short: it’s better to be safe than sorry.
DIY: How to make a Snuffle Mat?
If you’re into crafts you might like to make your own snuffle mat. Let’s have a look at how to make a snuffle mat in Australia.
Snuffle Mat DIY Materials:
- A plastic mat with holes (from Bunnings, depending on the size this will be around $7 – $20)
- Fleece fabric (use old clothes, or you can get a fleece blanket from Kmart for $4 – $10 depending on the size)
Snuffle Mat DIY Steps:
- Cut the fleece into strips (I do about 5cm wide and 20cm long and this can be adjusted to your preference)
- Take one strip, thread it through the back of the plastic mat and then tie the two ends into a knot at the front.
- Rinse and repeat until you’ve covered all the holes across all directions 🙂