Today in our Brain Games and Tough toys series (canine enrichment) we’re looking at a Snuffle Mats.
Basically a snuffle mat is lots of pieces of soft material woven together to great an area that you your human can hide your foot or treats in. Getting food out of a bowl is quick. Having to find it from different places around the snuffle mat takes much longer. It can also be used to be a fun game or incentive, but I’ll come back to that in a moment. You don’t have to spend a lot of money. You can make your own mat and you can find out how to do that HERE
Alternatively, you can buy one. The one Shadow has was a birthday present for her a few years ago and came from Ruffle Snuffle HERE
Using it with food or treats
It is best to put the dry food on the snuffle mat somewhere away from the dog who is going to be using it. Even if we sit nicely and watch what you are doing, we may have a tendency to drool everywhere as we wait. However, as Mum found out, if you load it up and have to carry it very far there is a risk you will leave a trail of food behind you.
Who is it for?
It is not difficult. You don’t have to be Canine Mastermind to work this one out. You just need to have a reasonable sense of smell to be able to work your way around the mat hunting for the treats. It doesn’t take a huge amount of time, especially if you are hungry so you don’t have to be the world’s most patient dog either. You do need to be a little bit gentle. If you start throwing this around the room to get the treats to fall out then there is a risk of breaking an ornament or two.
Shadow giving a demonstration
It took Shadow quite a few minutes to find all her lunch. She felt quite a sense of satisfaction once she’d got them all. She did not miss a single one.
Other ways to use the mat
If your dog is nervous at the vet or dog groomer you can use a snuffle mat with hidden treats to keep them occupied while you are there. High value treats will guarantee our attention, but even our normal kibble will keep us looking and sniffing. Sniffing takes quite a bit of energy too, so it is more exercise for us than it looks. I know it looks as though if there are a few treats they are easy to find, but there is always that one elusive one that we don’t want to miss and we’ll keep working until we find it. You can make sure you tuck some as deep as possible just to keep us going.
It would be very remiss of me not to wish dear Shadow a very happy twelfth birthday. She is having a special birthday tea and has some cards and presents to open. That reminds me, although you can wash your snuffle mat it is best to only use it with dry food! Happy birthday to her brother Rocky too.