Snuffle Mat Fun!

Let’s face it. Dogs need stuff to do to keep them emotionally and physically happy and healthy. Here’s a fun idea for your enrichment toy box: a snuffle mat! We will show you how to use it and even how to make your own.

A dog’s sense of smell is so wonderful and so much more sensitive than ours. When given an opportunity to play scenting games, their enthusiasm is contagious and will make you want to find more games for them to play. A snuffle mat is a fun outlet for your scent-sational dog. The snuffle mat encourages your dog to sniff and forage for food.  The snuffle mat consists of fleece strips tied to a rubber mat with holes in it. Bits of treats or kibble are tucked deep into the strips of fabric.

Snuffle mats are super useful.
  • Provide mental and physical stimulation.
  • Encourage searching, sniffing, and foraging.
  • Engages your dog’s amazing sense of smell.
  • This activity is great for the dog who may be stuck inside.
  • Eating and sniffing are calming activities for your dog.
  • They are satisfying and fun.
  • Can be made at home in a few hours or purchased.
  • Scenting games are fun for you and your dog.
Teaching your dog how to use the mat.

Have your dog wait while you load the mat with treats. This can be as simple as saying, “stay” if your dog knows this or filling the snuffle mat and letting him out of another room, or having someone gently hold his collar. Then place the mat on the floor and let your dog watch you drop some treats on top of the strips. At first, don’t try to hide them, just drop them on top. Then tell your dog, “Fido, find it!”

You can use ‘find it’, ‘search’, or any other word you choose whenever you want your dogs to use their scenting abilities.

After your dog finds those treats, have him wait again.  This time sprinkle some on top and hide some in between strips. Then let him go search some more.

For the dog who has played many scenting games, don’t scatter any treats on top of the snuffle mat as that would be too easy for him. Instead, push the treats down in between strips so your dog has to actually hunt for them.

Play a few times with your dog and then call it quits. As with any toy or game you don’t want to play it until the dog has had too many treats or is bored. Also, vary the treats you use to keep your dog’s interest high.

Remove the snuffle mat when your dog Is finished searching. The fleece strips will begin to smell like treats and if left alone with the mat your dog may chew the fleece strips and potentially swallow them which could cause serious problems. Supervise your dog.

Most of all, have fun with this scenting game. Enjoy watching your dog carefully searching through the snuffle mat and then when they’re done, asking to do it again.

Here is how to make your own snuffle mat.

Your snuffle mats can be machine washed on the gentle cycle and air dried.

Please share your photos on the Dog Nerds Facebook page. We love to see what you and your dog are up to!