Much like ourselves, dogs often enjoy having a job.
In fact, keeping Spot busy is not only good for his happiness but also for his health too! Mental and physical stimulation is an important part of your doggo’s day-to-day routine, and it should be considered a vital need alongside food and health care.
However, even with pet sitters and doggie daycare, it can still be difficult to keep your pup adequately entertained when left alone for a few hours. And even if you’re with your dog constantly, you may still find yourself struggling to keep up with your pooch.
Luckily, there are ways to enrich your pup’s home life without hassle. One of our favorite tips? Set your pupper up with his very own snuffle mat!
Snuffle mats are essentially food or treat dispensers that allow you to stimulate your pet’s natural foraging instincts.
In this article, we’ll go over some of the main benefits of snuffle mats, share some of our favorite picks, and explain how to make your own DIY snuffle mat from the comfort of your own home.
But if you’re in a hurry, just check out our favorites!
Snuffle Mats: Quick Picks
- PAW5 Wooly Snuffle Mat — A machine-washable snuffle mat with lots of deep nooks and crannies, this is our favorite model of the bunch!
- Sunflower Snuffle Mat — This affordable snuffle mat is not only adorable, but it also provides a ton of tiny places for your dog to search.
- AWOOF Interactive Feeding Mat — The best option for owners on the go, the AWOOF Feeding Mat folds up for easy storage and transport. Plus, it’s simply too cute for words!
What is a Snuffle Mat?
A snuffle mat is a puzzle toy and dispenser designed to mimic grass and other outdoor areas.
Instead of getting the treats or kibble immediately, your pup must work to forage through the many strands of the mat to find their reward.
Snuffle mats are commonly used to encourage slower eating habits to avoid risks of bloat, but they also serve as a great way to keep your pup’s mind engaged and healthy.
Just remember that every dog and breed is different. What might work for a toy breed may not work at all for a dog from the working group, so it’s important to consider doggie enrichment as an ongoing process.
How Do You Use a Snuffle Mat?
Snuffle mats come in all shapes and sizes, but they usually have some sort of ruffled strands or pieces of fabric mimicking grass.
Some fancier models may also include fun pockets or compartments to add to your doggo’s enjoyment.
Using these mats is super simple, which makes it easy to prepare a fun game for your pup when you’re running out the door. All you have to do is spread around your dog’s treat or kibble on top of the mat. Then, stand aside and let the fun begin!
Generally speaking, snuffle mats are designed so that the food slips into the cracks of the mat, thereby forcing your pooch to search, sniff, and forage for the goodies. Kibble and treat size vary, so you may have to spend a little extra time distributing the treats in your mat.
Try spreading some of your dog’s kibble on top of the mat and then running your fingers through the fibers to help shake the kibble down into the fabric crevices so it requires more effort for your dog to detect!
Some pups can be especially crafty and will try to shake the mat out for food instead of using it for its intended purpose. In this instance, some owners have had success by putting weighted items around the edges of the mat until their dog recognized the proper way to use it.
Other than that, snuffle mats are pretty straightforward. Many are also machine washable, so if it builds up dirt and grime over time, a quick wash will have it shining like new.
As with any toy or training tool, make sure you supervise your pet the first couple of times he uses the snuffle mat. You never know how your pet may react to a new stimulus, so it’s important to monitor him and ensure that he stays safe.
Advantages of Dog Snuffle Mats: Why They’re Good For Four-Footers
These tail-wagging toys pose many benefits for you and your pooch. Here are a few of the most notable ways a snuffle mat will improve both of your lives.
1. They Provide Mental Stimulation
As mentioned earlier, snuffle mats tap into your pup’s foraging instincts. Many pups prefer working for a reward and mental stimulation is an important part of maintaining good health. Interactive dog toys, such as a snuffle mat, are great for engaging your pup physically and mentally!
2. They Can Force Your Dog to Eat Slowly
For dogs who eat too quickly or have digestive issues, snuffle maps can force them to slow down a bit at chow time. Based on most user reviews, dogs took anywhere from about 5 to 25 minutes to find one serving of kibble hidden in a snuffle mat.
3. They’ll Reduce Your Pooch’s Stress
In addition to being generally healthier, mentally stimulated pups are less likely to be stressed and anxious. Completing tasks successfully helps dogs to build confidence, and makes them less likely to engage in nervous behaviors like chewing up the carpet.
Sniffing in particular has been shown to a dog’s pulse and help them relax and self-soothe, which is why it’s a great practice to encourage via a snuffle mat.
Check out this neat study by Dog Field Study which shows how much a dog’s pulse is lowered while sniffing outside.
4. They Help Keep Disabled or Mobility-Impaired Dogs Busy
If you have a disabled or mobility-challenged dog, snuffle mats are great ways to keep your pupper engaged from the comfort of your home. This way, he’ll still get the stimulation he may normally miss because of his mobility challenges.
5. They’re Awesome Dog-Management Tools
Sometimes, humans need a little break, even if it’s just for 5 minutes. Snuffle mats can help your pup stay occupied while you’re eating dinner, doing tasks around the house, or trying to write an article about how great snuffle mats are.
The 5 Best Snuffle Mats for Dogs
Without further ado, here are our top picks for snuffle mats.
1. PAW5 Wooly Snuffle Mat
About: The PAW5 Wooly Snuffle Mat is a sleek, gray enrichment mat that will engage your pup as he forages through the mat’s grass-like strands. It comes in one size and is made to please pooches of any age or breed.
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Features: This snuffle mat is machine washable, so if your pooch is known to slobber, you can keep the toy looking fresh. It’s made out of sustainable, non-toxic fabric sourced by PAW5’s partners in Thailand and Ghana.
To fill this snuffle mat, all you have to do is sprinkle kibble on top of it. The crevices of mat are deep enough so that your pet is inclined to get up close and personal with his snout, without you having to spend a lot of time adding more kibble.
Size: 12″ x 18″
Owners loved this mat’s ability to keep their pup engaged for long periods of time and noticed an improvement in their pooch’s approach to food. Owners also loved that it is machine-washable, which makes cleanup a breeze.
Some customers found the mat to be too small for larger breeds, or opted to buy two instead to make up for the difference. In addition, some customers found that the grass-like strands did not hold up against intense chewing, so this may not be the best pick if your pup is particularly hard on his toys. However, it seems customer care was quick to reach out and offer a full refund or replacement for those families with a negative experience.
2. Custom Snuffle Mat via Etsy
About: Surprisingly, a custom durable snuffle mat by Etsy creator Kimberly Costner won’t burn a hole in your pocket. These mats are handmade to order and customizable according to your pup’s specific needs.
Features: The custom snuffle mat is made out of anti-piling fleece making the toy very soft. Even with the soft fleece, it’s backed by flexible PVC and rubber, so it should stand up pretty well for most dogs.
You can choose up to three colors for Kimberly to weave into your mat for some fun customization, and you can also specify dimensions according to your pup’s body type. These mats can be hand washed with warm water.
Size: Available in eight sizes, ranging from 12″ x 12″ to 48″ x 36″.
The reviews for this mat are overwhelmingly positive. Despite being soft, these custom snuffle mats seem to stand up to pups of all shapes and sizes. Owners loved the personalized care from Kimberly and the ability to customize the mat.
Poor reviews were extremely hard to find for this snuffle mat. If owners have any qualms, it seems Kimberly is very quick to respond appropriately to their needs. Shipping may take a bit longer for these mats than mass-produced alternatives, but that’s to be expected from any bespoke product.
3. Best Dog on the Block Snuffle Mat
About: The Best Dog on the Block Snuffle Mat by Etsy creator Eileen Gillian comes in a bevy of cute patterns and sizes, and it is sure to keep your pup entertained.
Features: Each mat is custom made out of fleece colors of your choice. There are a couple of different sizing options, with the larger mats also having a greater density to accommodate the longer snouts of larger breeds.
Notably, these mats are somewhat taller than other mats making them great for pups enthusiastic about foraging.
These mats also have some extra love behind them: Best Dog on the Block currently supports those suffering from job loss, mental illness, and anyone who needs help getting back on their feet. Eileen has selflessly trained and hired 25 people to help craft these snuffle mats for Best Dog on the Block, so every purchase is giving a helping hand to those who need it.
Size: 15″ x 18″
Customers loved the craftsmanship of these mats and the personal support from Best Dog on the Block. Each mat seemed to hold up well, regardless of its user.
It was difficult to find any poor reviews or shortcomings for this snuffle mat. It seems most pups responded very well to the Best Dog on the Block Snuffle Mat.
4. Sunflower Snuffle Mat
About: This Sunflower-Inspired Snuffle Mat is as cute as it is functional. It features two different levels of fleece, so your pup can forage at varied levels.
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Features: The sunflower snuffle mat has a non-slip bottom and is constructed out of soft fleece. It only comes in one size though, so it is best suited for smaller breeds or puppies.
The snuffle mat can be machine washed and is relatively affordable for its ease of use and construction.
Size: 18.9″ diameter
Owners loved how cute and soft this snuffle mat was, and most dogs seemed to love hunting for food amidst the fibers. Some pups even found the mat so soft, they began using it as a sort of pillow!
Although the snuffle mat worked well for many doggos, some pups were inclined to flip over the mat since it is so lightweight. Other customers also wished that the mat came in more sizes besides small.
5. AWOOF Interactive Feeding Mat
About: The AWOOF Interactive Feeding Mat is full of fun features to keep your pup engaged. This snuffle mat has added pockets, nooks, and crannies, so even the cleverest pups will be entertained.
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Features: This interactive play mat is large and is designed with larger breeds in mind. It has detachable buckles so that you can secure the mat to nearby furniture, preventing your pooch from flipping over the mat entirely. These buckles also act as a way to easily pack up and store the mat when not in use.
The mat is made out of fleece and has tiny pockets and crannies for your pooch to scour in addition to the traditional grass-like foraging center. There’s also a squeaker in the center of this mat and crinkly areas of the toy, so pups who love noisy toys will take to AWOOF’s offering.
You can machine wash this mat and it comes in one large size suitable for any breed and body type.
Size: 28.7″ x 28.7″
Owners loved this mat’s versatility at a relatively cheap price. A couple of owners who were constantly on-the-go noted its added buckles as a very helpful addition to the snuffle mat.
Some owners found that the mat didn’t hold up against intense chewers. If your pooch is rough on his toys, this mat may not be the best pick.
DIY Snuffle Mat Kit: How to Build Your Own
This snuffle mat can be fun to create at home, and it isn’t overly complicated to create. In fact, you can make your own snuffle mat in just a couple of steps.
Step One: Gather the Necessary Materials
For this project, you’ll need:
- At least a yard of fleece (depending on the size of your pup)
- A rubber sink or anti-fatigue mat (basically any mat that has equidistant holes large enough for fleece strips to go through)
- Scissors. For cutting up your fleece strips.
- Time. Shredding and tying the fleece can take some time, so make sure you set aside some time to complete this project properly.
Step Two: Prepare the Fleece
It’s a good idea to wash the fleece beforehand to ensure it’s ready for your pup to use.
After washing, cut the fleece into strips about 6 inches long and 1 inch thick. Don’t be too consumed by exact measurements though, as your mat will still work fine with slight imperfections.
You’re going to need a ton of fleece strips if you want to make a high-quality snuffle mat. The exact number will differ based on the exact design you use, but figure that you’ll need at least 200 to 300 individual strips.
Step Three: Weave the Mat Together
Once you have all your fleece strips cut, you’re ready to get weaving!
Weave a single piece of fleece through a hole on the mat. Just make sure you are weaving methodically (i.e starting from a row on the edge and moving inward hole by hole, row by row).
Once you pull your piece of fleece through, give it a single tie. Grab another strip a fleece and feed it through an adjacent mat hole as well as the hole that now has a single tie in it.
Tie the strip off with a single knot and repeat the process until every hole is filled with one main fleece tie and two neighboring ties.
Step Four: Add the Finishing Touches
When you flip over the mat, it should be fluffy and ready for your pet’s use. Don’t forget to supervise him while using the toy, as it may take him a couple of times to get used to the mat. But once he gets it, he’ll love it!
Check out the following video to see the process in action!
As a pet parent, it’s important to keep your pup engaged mentally and physically. Snuffle mats not only keep your pup happy and healthy, but they also give you a chance to focus on tasks around the house.
It’s not often that our doggo’s get to tap into their natural instincts, but acquiring one of these snuffle mats is sure to get your pup’s tail wagging.
Have you tried out a snuffle mat? Do you have any tips for busting doggie boredom? We’d love to hear about your experiences and ideas in the comments below!