At first glance, a snuffle mat looks like a rug. Made by tying strips of fleece onto a rubber safety mat, snuffle mats create layers of fabric that cascade across each other. Some showcase bright colors and intricate patterns, whereas other snuffle mats are very simple. No matter how they look, though, a snuffle mat is designed for one thing: to offer dogs a chance to use their nose and problem solve.
These unique puzzle toys can be bought online or handmade. Making them is straight forward, although time intensive. Keep reading for instructions on making a snuffle mat at home! Once you have a snuffle mat, just sift kibble or treats down into the mountain of fleece and let your dog go to work! These puzzle toys offer plenty of fun and exercise at all times but are especially useful during super hot or cold days when walks may be limited.
How to Make a Snuffle Mat
First, gather your supplies. You’re going to need an appropriate rubber safety mat, cutting utensils, and lots of anti-pill fleece. Home Depot has large anti-fatigue mats that can be easily cut to the right size. They come in 3ft by 3ft squares, with 9 sections per mat. Each section makes one snuffle mat. You’ll need a utility knife for cutting the mat and scissors for cutting fleece. It’s not a bad idea to put on a good movie or audiobook before beginning, since cutting the fleece is time-consuming and repetitive.
You’ll need 2 to 3 yards of fleece for each 12″ by 12″ snuffle mat. Walmart has inexpensive fleece and major art stores commonly run mega sales. Joann’s Fabrics has an extensive online clearance section for fleece, so have fun picking!
Once you have your fleece, cut it into strips. The longer the strips, the more challenging the mat. You don’t need precision cutting, but each strip should be 1″ to 1.5″ wide and 8″ to 10″ long. Again, it doesn’t need to be perfect! Cut all your fleece at once — it’s frustrating to have to start and stop to cut more.
You can start in the middle or at the edge of your mat. It’s usually easier to begin in the middle and work out, but whatever works for you is fine! Turn your rubber safety mat over to the back and poke both ends of a fleece strip through the mat. Tie a tight knot on the front side and you’re done with that strip! You can tie them randomly or with a pattern — up to you!
It’s ok if your mat looks a little sad at first. Until it starts to fill in, it’s not going to look like much at all! Just relax and keep tying.
Keep tying and tying and tying. It’s very rewarding to watch the snuffle mat take shape! Take breaks as needed. The more densely you tie the strips, the more difficult the mat. If you overlay and cross tie strips, that’s a much more complicated mat than one with open spaces left, since it has more layers to nose through.
For puppies, dogs with less food drive, or beginners, consider trimming your strips once the mat is finished so they’re all the same height. This makes the snuffle mat easier to solve.
Once your mat is finished, sit it on the floor, scruffle food or treats down into it, and let your dog nose through it! This mental stimulation puzzle offers a great challenge and can help keep dogs from gulping down their food.
P.S. Cats like snuffle mats, too! One of the big sections can be cut into quarters to make a mini-mat! If you’re so inclined, you can use the extra safety mat sections to make mats for your local shelter or rescue. If you want a snuffle mat but don’t want to make one, just email us! Mats sell for $55 to $85 plus shipping.