Canine Enrichment ~ Snuffle Mat


[en-rich-muh nt]


1. an act of enriching.
2. the state of being enriched.

3. something that enriches :
the enrichment’s of education and travel.


Now lets add a Canine to that and make it Canine Enrichment:

One standard definition of enrichment is: “Additions to an animal’s environment with which the animal voluntarily interacts and, as a result, experiences improved physical and/or psychological health.”

Types of enrichment: (Behavioral-Environmental) Any stimulus which evokes an animal’s interest in a positive way can be considered enriching, including natural and artificial objects, scents, novel foods, and different methods of preparing foods (for example, frozen in ice). Most enrichment stimuli can be divided into seven groups:[4]

  • Environmental; enhancing the animals’ captive habitat with opportunities that change or add complexity to the environment.
  • Feeding; by presenting food to an animal in different ways, such as hidden, scattered throughout their habitat, buried, or presented differently, natural hunting and scavenging behaviors are encouraged by requiring the animals to investigate, manipulate, and work for their food as they would in non-captive environments. Feeding enrichment is the most common technique used.
  • Manipulation; providing items that can be manipulated by the paws, feet, tail, horns, head, mouth, etc. This promotes investigatory behavior and exploratory play that is often closely related to behaviors that can be seen by the species in a natural, wild habitat. It is not uncommon to see manipulation and feeding techniques combined. Many objects offered to an animal in their habitat can contain treats that require the animal to open, break apart, and/or find the treats through obstacles within the enrichment object.
  • Puzzles; requiring an animal to solve simple problems to access food or other rewards. These puzzles can include puzzle feeders that contain the animal’s meal or manipulation objects that are presented.
  • Sensory; stimulating animals’ senses: visual, olfactory, auditory, tactile, and taste. Olfactory senses can be activated by presenting scents that the animal would encounter while hunting and mating in the wild. Caretakers include prey, predator, and pheromone scents within the enclosure. Auditory senses can be activated by playing recordings of the animal’s natural habitat, animal, and vocalizations that can be heard by the species in the wild.
  • Social; providing the opportunity to interact with other animals, either conspecifics or interspecifics.
  • Training; training animals with positive reinforcement or habituation. This technique not only helps the animal to become mentally stimulated, but also helps to create and form a bond between the animal and his/her caretaker; allowing the caretaker to get a closer look at the animal on a daily basis and allowing for easier daily and veterinary care. ~Wikipedia

Since we are learning that dogs need mental and physical activities to keep them from unwanted behaviors. We are finding more and more ways to enrich their lives so they can become better pets. When becoming better pets the dogs are happy as they are getting much needed mental stimulation and you are happy because your pet isn’t destroying things as it has a job to do when you give it one in enrichment toys. There are many different enrichment toys out there, store bought ones as in puzzles, kong toys, tug-o-jugs and home made ones as in a water bottle with holes and treats in it for the dog to figure out how to get the treats out or like below a “Snuffle Mat”.

A “Snuffle Mat” is a interactive toy that you hide treats in between the strips of fabric and have your dog use it’s nose to sniff out the treats and mouth to gobble up the treats once they find them.  For a snuffle mat you will need about 2 yards of fleece and a small dish mat that I got at the dollar store.

Cut fleece into strips.

You start by cutting your fabric into strips.

Cut into smaller pieces.

You then cut them down even further into 6-8 inch strips.

Ready to start.

Staring the knot tying process.

Take one 6-8 inch strip and start in the first row of the dish mat weave your strip in one hole under the divider and into the next hole and up tying it around the divider.

Keep tying each row until each row is filled up.

You keep doing this same procedure until all the rows are filled up going the same way.

How the top should look.

How the bottom looks.

Now go the other way and fill in all the empty holes.

Now you will turn your mat and push the already done strips out of your way and fill in the holes going the other way on the mat.

This is how the mat looks going the other way.

I found it easier to locate the holes and push your previous strips out of the way.

I found it easier to locate the holes and push your previous strips out of the way. You keep at this until all the holes are filled going the other way.

Finished top of the mat.

Finished bottom side of the mat.

When you are done with your mat it’s time to have some fun with the pooches.

Glory was first and she loved it.

Glory stuck her nose in and rooted around til she found a treat and kept on digging.

Gambler was naughty and ripped it when he couldn’t get anymore treats.

Gambler on the other hand was naughty and when he couldn’t find anymore treats he proceeded to rip the strips. So you should be with them when using this toy so you can stop that behavior and not have them wreck your mat.

I can’t wait to try out this snuffle mat with a litter of pups.

This mat I did have fleece cut for me at ~$5.00 a yard and the dish mat was $1.00. It took me about ~2 hours to make and cost $11.00. I did find fleece blankets at Walmart for $2.50 so I bought two of them for the next project so then it would only cost me $6.00 plus time.

I am told that to get the dog slobber out of the mat to wash it in vinegar and dawn dish soap and it comes right out. I haven’t had to wash mine yet.

Enjoy and enjoy watching your pooch interact with this canine enrichment toy.20


5 Replies to “Canine Enrichment ~ Snuffle Mat”

  1. Emmadog

    One of our friends made Madison one as a puppy gift, and we also have a store bought one. They are fun, but we find the treats so fast, we are done in under a minute. They are one of our favorite games and we get really excited when Mom gets them out and loaded up for us. Love the pretty colors you chose.

  2. M. K. Clinton

    What a great DIY project! We won a Snuffle Mat but I am saving it for our new house to keep the boys occupied. Hopefully, our house will sell soon and we can move.

  3. Jan K

    The crew loves their store-bought snuffle mat, but your homemade one is so much prettier! Luke knows where I keep ours, and every time I go in that room he is trying to sniff it out. They definitely enjoy it a lot.