Snuffle Mat for Dogs
A snuffle mat is a fun game for dogs. It’s usually made from something like a rubber sink mat that has fleecy strips knotted through holes in the mat. The snuffle mat is superior to almost every other dog toy and is a great way to give your pet mental exercise. It’s also a fun way to deliver treats.
The snuffle mat is designed so that your dog can sniff out food from between the many folds of fleece. Snuffle mats look kind of silly with all the colourful folds, but it’s very effective. Because you bury food within the mat, and all the scraps of fleece make the food incredibly hard to find, your dog needs to sniff through the folds to find the treat. This allows the dog to use their favourite sense: their nose.
Using the snuffle mat is extremely awarding for dogs. They love sniffing things out with their noses, and there’s nothing better than sniffing out a delicious treat and getting some praise for doing it.
The snuffle mat can make eating more fun, it can slow fast eaters, and you can even use it as an alternative to a traditional dog bowl. It blends feeding time with playtime, which is basically dog heaven. There isn’t a dog in the world that doesn’t enjoy the snuffle mat.
How Do You Use the Snuffle Mat?
Step 1: Getting Started
Using a snuffle mat can be a little confusing. You want to start slowly and teach your dog how to use the mat the right way. For the first time, try three or four tasty treats. Place them on top of the mat and cover them loosely in the fleece strips. Don’t bury the treats too deep.
Now, watch your dog as they sniff out the treats. Because dogs explore the world with their noses, this should be a fun activity that your dog enjoys. However, it’s important to teach your dog to hunt with its nose properly. If your dog begins to bite or yank at the mat in an attempt to reach the treats, tell them to leave it.
Encourage your dog to find the treats with its nose by hinting at where they are. You may even pretend to sniff for the treats yourself, therefore encouraging the dog to use their nose instead of shaking the mat around.
If they keep shaking the mat, take it away and try again later.
Step 2: Repeat Twice a Day
Repeat the same thing with your dog two times a day. This will allow them to get used to the activity of sniffing. They will also associate sniffing with finding treats. Just be sure that you always stay close to supervise and make sure your dog is doing it right.
Step 3: Hide the Treats Deeper
After a few days or a week, once your dog has become accustomed to the snuffle mat, begin hiding the treats deeper inside the mat. This will make it harder for your dog to find the treats, thus increasing the difficulty of the task and increasing the satisfaction of the reward.
By now, your dog should be sniffing the mat calmly and not trying to tear it apart like a savage. From now on, you can mix tasty treats with ordinary dog food. Of course, you want to use hard dog food. Hide the food as deep as possible and make it as fun as you can. After several sessions, your dog will be using their nose to search for things instead of ripping up your house.
As a side note, remember to always hide the mat after all the food’s gone.
Step 4: Self Control
The snuffle mat can be used to teach your dog self-control. To begin, tell your dog to sit and make them stay calm while you prepare the snuffle mat in front of them. When ready, give them a release command. This is an awesome way to help reinforce commands like “stay,” “sit,” and “leave it.”
Ways to Use the Snuffle Mat
There are a few other ways to use the snuffle mat. First, it works as an awesome distraction. If your dog is a bit anxious at the groomers, or if you want your dog to sit down and be quiet while at an outside café or pub, bust out the snuffle mat to distract them.
Secondly, the snuffle mat is a great way to calm down dogs that eat too fast. Because a dog is usually fed from a bowl twice a day, they only have two chances to gulp down as much of their favourite food as possible.
By filling the snuffle mat with your dog’s ordinary kibble, they have to take their time eating it because it takes so long to find each individual piece. It’s also a great way to make a dog eat its food even when it doesn’t want to. The act of playing a game makes eating the food fun, even if your dog was just staring at the food in its bowl beforehand.
To give your dog more time with its snuffle mat, try breaking each meal into two separate sessions. They don’t have to be timed too far apart. Allow your dog to eat half its food and when it’s done, give the other half of their meal by hiding the remainder of the kibble in the mat.
Finally, using the snuffle mat is a great way to drain your dog’s energy without actually doing anything. Constantly sniffing for about 15 minutes will use roughly the same calories as walking for one hour. As hard as it is to believe, it’s true. Puppies and extremely active dogs can be worn out simply by using their noses.
This is ideal for puppies and adult dogs who still have too much energy even after they’ve gone for a walk. To calm your dog down, give them a few minutes with the snuffle mat and they’ll be happy as can be.