Out of ideas to keep your pet busy, or maybe your pet has a short attention span? Want to add a different activity to your pet’s daily routine? An easy DIY dog snuffle mat may just be the answer!
Just like people who enjoy activities that keep their creativity flowing, dogs enjoy activities that stimulate their sense of smell and keep their brain active. Activities like walks, hikes, a trip to a dog park, or a pet store usually offer many different ways to enrich your dog’s senses. Sometimes, a couple walks or a car ride to the park may not be in the schedule for the day though.
Dog Puzzles & Sensory Activities
That’s where dog puzzles can really come in handy. We wrote a whole post on 5 great dog puzzles to help keep your dog busy. Many dog puzzles are easy DIY projects you can make at home. Our DIY dog snuffle mat, also known as a sniff mat or enrichment mat, is a perfect example of an inexpensive and easy to make dog puzzle. A snuffle mat can help with burning off some energy through smell sensory activities.
According to canine researcher and author of Being a Dog: Following a Dog into the World of Smell, Dr. Alexandra Horowicz, a dog has 50 times as many scent receptors as a human. Dogs also have an additional organ called the vomeronasal organ above the roof of their mouths and under their noses. Humans don’t have this special organ.
When a dog is licking the ground or tasting the air, they are acquiring extremely detailed information through this superior olfactory organ. It’s also been estimated that a dog has over 250 million scent receptors in their noses! Want to learn more about your dog’s amazing sense of smell? Read more here.
Materials Needed For A Snuffle Mat
Now your pup can enjoy some extra fun and challenge their scent receptors with their new snuffle mat.
- A rubber mat that has holes in it (look for a sink mat or bathtub mat)
- Felt or fleece fabric (you can use all one color or you can mix it up like we did)
- Small training treats or dog food
- Straight edge or ruler (optional – only if you want all the strips to be the same size)
- Cut strips of fabric about 2 inches wide (depending on the size of the rubber mat you’ll need to cut a good amount of strips to cover all the holes.)
- Pick up the mat and take one strip of fabric tying it through a hole in the mat with an overhand knot.
- Pull it tightly. (No need to double knot. Once all the fleece is in place, the fabric strips will be firmly embedded.)
- Continue to tie pieces of fabric through the holes in the mat.
- Tie multiple pieces of fabric within the same hole (for example a piece of fabric can be tied on the top, one to the left, one to the right, and one to the bottom.)
- The thicker the fabric the less you will be able to tie on in each area. (Just make sure that your end result is full and tight.)
- While you work on tying the fabric, flip the mat over every now and then to make sure there are no holes that the treats or kibble can slip through.
How To Use A Snuffle Mat
- Fluff up the fabric and run your fingers through it to make sure that all the fabric is spread apart and full.
- Place small training treats or kibble through the pieces of fabric.
- You can give it a good shake if you want so that the treats sink into all of the little hiding spots the fabric strips make. You can place each treat in the little hiding spots as well.
- Lastly, place the mat on the floor for your pet and let them sniff away! Some dogs like to dig on the mat to find the treats as well so don’t worry if your pet starts to try to dig a little.
- After a few uses and the mat is dirty, toss it into the washing machine. Allow it to air dry.
Snuffle mats are a great sensory puzzle for your pet, as well as, a fun and entertaining activity that can be taken along on trips too! They can also help with slowing down eating to help a dog realize he’s full and not overeat. Whatever your reason is for wanting to use a snuffle mat, this easy DIY project will have your pup’s tail wagging and nose sniffing in excitement every time!