Snuffle Mat: Time to Hunt

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I didn’t even have time to put the mat on the floor before Walter jumped onto the chair to start hunting! Good grief!

Training tools is the theme for this week’s Positive Training hop. I’m focusing on training “calm” behavior through hunting techniques and nosework. Using the Snuffle Mat as my training tool, I’m teaching Walter that hunting is a great game to play and helps burn energy when our walks are shorter due to icy weather. Today the street is so icy we’re holding off on walks until the temperatures increase so some of it melts and we can go back to our normal routine.

About a month ago, a few bloggers reviewed this Snuffle Mat so I had to order one and hop on the bandwagon. I have reviewed and tried a lot of puzzle toys so it’s nice to incorporate a training tool that fits so organically into our routine.

Honestly, any tool that encourages natural foraging skills is perfect for our pack. I did a couple of videos with Walter and the mat below.

You can also make these mats and I found a great DIY Snuffle Mat blog post from Honest Kitchen if you want to make your own. Here’s another.  I bought the Paw5 Snuffle Mat from Amazon.

This training tool teaches Walter, Shermie and Bruiser foraging techniques and how to use their noses.This way when the dogs are bored they don’t look for ways to entertain themselves and get in trouble. So the snuffle mat is my new “go to” training tool and nosework always saves the day.

My thoughts on how to use this:

  • You can essentially just throw kibble or treats on top of the mat but I think “hiding” treats in the mat makes it harder for your dogs — Walter need the ultimate challenge.
  • Break your treats into tiny pieces: It’s easy to make this hunting exercise last for awhile if you hide a lot of really small treats throughout the mat.
  • This game should be monitored – the fleece pieces can end up smelling like the treats and I caught Walter starting to chew on the fleece which he would ingest at some point. Not every dog would do this but Walter also chews blankets…
  • We use “find it” as our nosework cue so that’s what I use for this game.
  • This may be obvious and your dogs probably share toys but my dogs need to play these enrichment games separately so nobody gets “guardy”.

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There are 25 Comments

  1. Crystal says:

    Ptera has a snuffle mat and really enjoys it. We just use kibble on it, rather than treats.

  2. Emma says:

    A friend of ours in Germany sent us a homemade one as a puppy gift for Madison. Bailie and Madison both love this thing. Madison will even beg for Mom to get it down and fill it up. It’s a super fun toy! Ours is made with fleece strips tied onto a plastic frame, but it works the same. Great invention.

    • That was so nice of your friend! I was skeptical at first and then Walter LOVED it. After a few times playing with it he starts to get a little crazy so it has to go up! Super fun toy – agreed!

  3. dawn says:

    I’ve been wanting to make a snuffle mat. I’ve taken dog food and thrown it into the grass in the back yard for my dogs to find. It would be nice to be able to do something similar inside especially in the winter.

    Thank you for joining the Pet Blogger Showcase Linky Party!

    • Thanks so much for having me! I was stunned to find so many great DIY posts for these mats. Please let me know if you post about it as I’ll include a link! I toss treats into the grass too – it’s a great way to distract them too when I need to clean up poop!

  4. These are really neat! I bet Bear Cat would love one too … and I’ve been feeling crafty lately anyway. He’s a chewer … but I think he’s more likely to drag it around in his mouth like his bad-a$$ hunting skills caught it 😉 I’m always looking for toys he can play with by himself too.
    Thank you for linking up with the Showcase this week!

    • Love the showcase! Thank you for having me! I bet cats would think this is such a cool hunting toy and you’re probably right – dragging it around I bet would be FUN!

  5. Beth says:

    I know that my dogs would LOVE this. I will have to see about getting or making one for them.

  6. Jen Gabbard says:

    I’m sure my dog would go nuts for this, and those DIY ones look like something my clumsy self might actually be able to pull off, too 🙂

  7. Kari says:

    Oh, man, my dogs would tear one of those APART! But it looks like a lot of fun. 🙂

  8. Jan K says:

    I’d seen this on other blogs, but wasn’t really sold on it yet. Now I am though! We have other puzzle toys, but frankly, Luke and Cricket are so fast with those I’m not sure how much it helps them! This looks like it could be more work to dig them out, and I love how you tied it in with nose works. I definitely think we might give it a try. Luke and Cricket have to be separated with puzzle toys too. Where would we be without gates? 🙂

    • Ditto! I really had to try it to believe that it would burn some of Walter’s energy! We’ve tried rotating through our puzzle toys and my guys also get super bored. Walter and Shermie totally associate this with nosework since the concept is similar. RIGHT? We LOVE our baby gates!

  9. Monika & Sam says:

    On the hunt now for one of those plastic sink pads. I’ve got loads of fleece fabric that needs to be used up. This is a perfect craft project for me!

  10. Beth says:

    We love our snuffle mat, too! I used it a lot when I was still integrating my new puppy Rye into the family and Barley had to be alone while I played with Rye for a while. I’d fill it up and Barley would have something to do while she was alone. Unfortunately, Rye thinks anything she touches needs to be shredded, so we haven’t used it with her yet!

  11. I’ve been thinking about getting one but raw food and fleece don’t sound like the best combo. He can only eat so many calories as it is! Maybe I could get one and use treats for training classes. Thanks for joining the hop.

  12. Jodi Stone says:

    I haven’t seen this reviewed, but what a great idea! I sometimes play hide the carrots when we are having bad weather. And you are right, nose work is a great bad weather game!

    Thanks for joining the linky party!

  13. […] buying, but I do know I get one I’m going to check out the tips for using a snuffle mat that Claire from My Life With Dogs Portland, OR shares with […]

  14. […] Snuffle Mat: Time to Hunt by Christy Caplan at My Life with Dogs. Snow and winter weather can make it challenging to exercise your pet. I’m sure you all know, that mental stimulation can tire your pet out, almost as much as physical exercise. I’m always looking for a fun game to play when weather prevents us walking. […]