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As a pet parent, you’ve probably been tempted by plenty of the latest gadgety dog toys and accessories. But as enticing as these high-tech gizmos are (and perhaps more so to people than their dogs), one fact remains true: Dogs just want to push their noses into stuff that’s stinky, which is why dog snuffle mats are a timelessly classic toy for dogs.
How to Engage Your Dog’s Senses
For many dogs, the put-nose-in-stinky-stuff impulse has long meant pursuing a major in laundry bags, a passion for exploring the cracks between sofa cushions, or an insatiable interest in (let’s be honest) your crotch.
Snuffle mats play right into your pup’s sniffing and tracking instinct. You can hardly get more low-tech than this engaging toy, which is designed simply to hide dry food or kibble in various crannies and folds.
They can keep dogs busy for very long periods, and the fact that they’re easy to wash and transport makes them popular with humans. Here are some great snuffle mat-style products on the market.
Top Dog Snuffle Mats and Activity Mats
This gray mat resembles a monochrome rag rug—indeed, you could probably use one as a bath mat in a pinch—but it’s designed for your dog’s rifling pleasure. Simply crumble some treats or dry food in it, and let your pup go to town trying to find the bits and pieces hidden in its stringy tendrils. An unexpected bonus: After mealtime, you might find your dog enjoys using it as a bed.
Designed in Denmark, the Buster Activity Mat is many, many toys in one. The base is a mat outfitted with snaps; a variety of fabric components can then be attached to it and folded and tied in a variety of origami-esque ways—tuck treats or dehydrated food, even bully sticks, throughout. It comes with three pieces (you can buy additional ones) which can all be adjusted to be easier or harder for your dog to navigate, based on their skill level. The whole thing can be folded into an adorable blue duffle bag, making it a great travel toy.
There are hiding spots aplenty throughout this dog snuffle mat, made from oxford cloth and fleece. There are even little bells hidden in the petals for extra sensory fun. When your pup is all snuffled out, simply fold and buckle it back up into a square for storage. Note, there’s no non-slip fabric on the bottom, so keep in mind when placing this mat.
Pockets, pockets, and more pockets! This fleece mat has oodles of fun shapes to tuck tasty little treats into that’ll keep your dog guessing. It’s also made with an anti-slip bottom to prevent slip and slides.
This round mat has fleece petal folds and grass strips to hide treats and kibble. It also has five separate pocket-style canvas puzzle toys that come with the mat for added challenges. It’s equipped with a non-slip bottom plus optional bars to keep the mat from flipping.
Is it me, or does this mat resemble a giant salad—of fun! Another round option snuffle mat, lay it out for a traditional nosework mat, or fold up into a bowl shape for a slow feeding experience. This toy comes with a no-slip bottom and draws together into a bag shape for storage and easy transport.
This multi-textured mat is made from fleece and upcycled materials, and rocks no-slip material underneath. Have your pup forage for kibble and treats in the grass strips, under the cloth pockets, and in the cups for all sorts of fun.
Create an engaging game for your dog with this sports-themed snuffle mat. There are all kinds of fun ways to conceal dry food and treats in the tucks, folds, cups, and layers of this mat. This toy has a skidproof bottom and is machine-washable in between play sessions.
The Challenger Cube is made by British animal trainer Sara White and is a six-sided fabric cube in which you can hide lots of yumminess. It combines the genius of a snuffle mat with the fun of a plush toy that can be kicked and rolled around. Have a specific color scheme in mind? She’ll custom make your Challenger Cube upon request.
Make Your Own Snuffle Mat
Of course if you’re crafty, there are always DIY versions of the dog snuffle mat as well.
One option is to cut up a bunch of old t-shirts and tie them all over the inside of a shallow milk crate, or to a sink mat (although I don’t suggest the latter if you have a heavy chewer). Or, simply get a cotton mop head and mix a bunch of yummy things in with the strings. Hours of fun may ensue—no batteries or Bluetooth required!
If you’re a visual learner, check out this handy video on how easy it is to make your own dog snuffle mat.