Through browsing a Facebook group that we follow, I recently learned about “snuffle mats”.
What is a snuffle mat, you ask?
It is a tool/toy used to stimulate your dog mentally. It consist of a rubber mat with strips of fleece tied into the holes of the rubber mat, where you can hide treats or food for your dog to find. It is a good way to develop your dog “sniffing” skills and help them avoid scarfing down their food without chewing.
Part of what drew me to this is that Zelda used to eat her food in less than a minute; she truly was the Usain Bolt of eating. Before finding out about these snuffle mats, I contemplated buying a “slow feed” bowl, but I decided I’d give this a try. Reading about the other benefits it could potentially have on my two high-energy pups certainly helped.
After looking at various options online for pre-made snuffle mats, but wanting something a bit more 'fashionable' that would match our furniture and home accessories, and I decided it would be best to make our own. So I headed to a few stores and bought the required materials;
1 - A rubber mat similar to this https://www.rona.ca/en/mat---entry-mat
2 - Fleece (I find this fabric to be durable and fairly “maintenance free”)
(Pro tip: you will also want a good pair of fabric scissors!)
Because our dogs require a good portion of food every morning/night, I opted for a large mat (18” x 30”) and purchased two and a half meters of fleece. I had to be very thrifty because I almost ran out before I was completely finished!
(Note: If I were to make another large snuffle mat, I’d opt for at least 3m of fabric. You can either purchase the fleece at your local fabric store, or try to find cheap fleece blankets and shred those up; If you already have fleece blankets that you would not mind cutting up, it would bring down the cost significantly.)
Putting the snuffle mat together is simple enough that it can be done by anyone who has the time and patience to make it (though it does take longer if you have two pups that try to play with the strips of fabric hehe).
I started by cutting the strips of fabric; these don’t need to be even but my strips were cut to be approximately 2-3 inches wide and between 6 to 8 inches in length.
Once I had all of my strips cut I started feeding the strips through the holes in the rubber mat, then tying them individually. If you’re using multiple colours, you can attempt to create a patterns, but let’s be honest; once your dog starts sniffing around, the pattern will likely disappear. The pattern I went with required me to add one strip of each fabric to every circle on the mat.
To give you an idea of what this process looks like, here is a shot of what the bottom of our Snuffle Mat looks like once you attach each of the fleece strips:
As stated earlier, I picked three fabrics that would go well with my living room – that’s a personal preference and not necessary. Having a single fabric would definitely reduce the amount of work.
Since completing the mat, we have been using it feed Zelda. So far, the results have been great! The mat definitely slows her down when she is eating, and she is always ready for a nap after all that work.
It is important to note that when using the snuffle mat, she is always under close supervision as she does have a thing for chewing on fabric!
So far, the results have been great! The mat definitely slows her down when she is eating, and she is always ready for a nap after all that work.
The princess in action:
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