This snuffle mat mimics grass so dogs can hunt for treats and kibble — I use it to tire out my dogs on rainy days inside
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- Calming products like “foraging mats” have been a trend for the past few years, and one of the reasons is that they combat behavior issues in our
- My dogs use the Paw5 Wooly Snuffle Mat to hunt for treats, especially on days when they need to burn off extra energy.
- I set up snuffle mat games for my 14-year-old hound to play in between meals to help keep his mind active.
Foraging is a natural instinct for dogs, and my two hounds love nothing more than using their noses, especially on long walks.
But we live in the Pacific Northwest where it rains a good portion of the year. We still get out in the rain and mud, but there are days when nonstop rain means walks get cut short. On these wet days, I’m always looking for ways to let them use their noses and exercise their foraging instincts inside so they can burn off extra energy with games like hide-and-seek.
And then there’s the Paw5 Wooly Snuffle Mat.
Snuffle mats have a bit of a cult-following among dog owners and trainers who like to keep their dogs stimulated by encouraging their natural instincts. The low-tech, easy-to-use mats are designed to mimic grass with strips of soft material between which you can hide treats. It really is as simple as tossing treats or kibble on top of the mat and letting your dog go on a treasure hunt.
Paw5’s Wooly Snuffle Mat stands out because it is durable, made from sustainable materials, and machine washable. The mat is available in one color, grey, and at 12 inches by 18 inches, it’s a perfect size for both my dogs.
The brand’s emphasis on sustainability places this product above the competition, too. Each mat is handmade from upcycled polyester and cotton fabric. It’s soft and not abrasive on my dogs’ noses. It’s also easy to clean. After your dog hunts for treats a few times, you’ll want to throw it in the wash. Even after more than 20 washes, our mat still looks good.
A tired dog is a good dog
Both my dogs have experience at a dog sport referred to as K9 Nose Work, which means they search for odors paired with food in containers. The Paw5 Wooly Snuffle Mat is like a game we’d play in Nose Work class. Any type of nose work requires a lot of energy from your dog, so hunting for treats is a game that can help diffuse any anxiety built up from not getting outdoors.
Senior dogs love it, too
My 14-year-old beagle has trouble going on the same hikes he used to when he was younger, so a game indoors between meals helps keep him sharp. According to Dr. Katherine Houpt, professor emeritus of behavioral medicine at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, enrichment activities like this and feeding puzzles can limit the signs of canine cognitive dysfunction in senior dogs, which is akin to dementia in humans. They are also beneficial for dogs that have anxiety or shouldn’t exercise post-surgery. “If dogs were in the wild, this is what they’d be doing. They’d be looking for little tidbits to eat,” she explained.
Bored dogs tire after nose games
You can essentially just throw kibble or treats on top of the mat, but my dachshund Walter is a very busy dog who needs the ultimate challenge. Hiding treats between the pieces of fabric makes it more challenging. Make sure you break up the treats into tiny pieces. It’s easy to make this scavenging game last for a while if you hide a lot of small treats throughout the mat. If your dog knows a search command like “find it,” it’s a great way to initiate the game.
If you have a dog prone to boredom and nuisance behaviors, a Snuffle Mat may be a good management tool. “Enrichment goes into the management bucket because through the use of puzzle toys, flirt poles, fetch games, etc., we can offset the boredom that leads to behavior problems,” according to the Academy for Dog Trainers. “Which dog is more likely to bark at people and dogs walking past the window, the one who looks outside all day while lying on the couch or the one who is too busy kicking around a Snoop to care?”
The mat can hold the odors of the treats, so you should supervise your dog with this product. I caught my dachshund Walter chewing on the fabric strips. Also, the mat doesn’t have a no-slip bottom, so I’ve found it works best on carpet.
This isn’t a game for all your dogs to play together. I put one of our dogs behind a baby gate so they each have their own turn at the game. You don’t want to encourage guarding behavior.
The bottom line
There are very few products I’ve found that burn energy indoors and tire out my two hounds. The Paw5 Wooly Snuffle Mat is a product that is great to have on hand for rainy, snowy, or hot days when you have to cut walks short. Even if you don’t think you’ll use it daily, it’s worth having in your enrichment toolkit.
Pros: Easy to set up, tires dogs out
Cons: Aggressive chewers may start to chew on their mat, requires supervision, should only be used by one dog at a time
(the headline, this story has not been published by Important India News staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)