Snuffle mats are becoming a hot topic, and for good reason! Snuffle mats are made from strips of fabric, or other soft material, fastened to a base to create a long grass type effect. Food is then hidden among the fabric, thus encouraging the dog or cat to work to find every hidden piece of food.
Snuffle mats are enriching because they draw on the instincts of sniffing and foraging. And as we all know channelling instinctual behaviours is what enrichment is all about! Snuffle mats are a perfect way to double down and make the most out of mealtimes. You need to nourish your dog’s body, so why not nourish their mind at the same time.
Our Friend Taylor at Bindi’s Bucket list describes snuffle mats as a “small mental treadmill.” Because not only does the sniffing work to tire their brain, it can also burn as many calories as an hour walk! While using a snuffle mat may seem small or insignificant to us, it is actually providing numerous things to our pets, including stress reduction, mental stimulation, encouraging slower eating habits, activating pleasure centers in the brain, and alleviating boredom. While we mentioned snuffle mats helping reduce stress or anxiety, it can also be helpful for shy dogs, or ones with little confidence. Due to the rewarding nature of snuffle mats, they can be helpful in getting dogs ‘to come out of their shell.’ When set up simply, a snuffle mat provides an immediate reward for the dog’s efforts, in a non-threatening or disruptive way.
Snuffle Mats are great for dogs with mobility issues or on reduced exercise such as crate rest. Snuffle mats keep them busy while burning some of that pent-up mental and physical energy, while still being gentle on the body. High energy dogs often find snuffle mats to be a calming activity. Another reason snuffle mats are highly recommended is because they don’t require a lot of space. A dog can use it in their kennel, or in the car on long drives.
Food and sensory enrichment are at work when your pet is provided with a snuffle mat. You can push the envelope even further by changing what kind of goodies available in the snuffle mat. While treats or kibble are the go-to choices, there are other ways to enhance their experience by providing different tastes and textured treats! Fresh fruit and vegetables are always a good option when looking to mix up the routine. Safe and yummy food includes carrot chunks, apple slices, green beans, broccoli, blueberries, raspberries, celery and lettuce. Another fun and safe way to use a snuffle mat is by adding some fresh herbs. Mint and parsley are two pet-safe options to add to your snuffle mat for added sensory enrichment!
Snuffle mats are a great addition to any and every pet’s life. Whether your senior pet needs more reason to move around, or your wily puppy needs a place to calm down, snuffle mats can help. By changing location, and elevation, you can make it harder or easier depending on the needs of your pet. It’s important to remember that snuffle mats are meant to be fun, not frustrating, so no matter what you do with it, be sure to always monitor your pet closely and be ready to make adjustments as needed.