Sassafras Lowrey is a dog trainer turned trick instructor turned writer who seriously loves dogs! She got involved with dog training as a teenager but it wasn’t until her and her partner adopted a former street dog in 2011 that she realized she could combine her passion for dogs with her passion for writing! After looking into ways she could enrich her dog, Charlotte’s life and seeing other pet parents do the same, Sassafras decided to write books to help both dogs and their humans. Check out the following activity from her new book, Chew This Journal!
One self-directed scent based game your dog can play is puzzling out a snuffle mat.They give dogs an outlet for their desire to sniff, are highly rewarding, and are a great way to occupy your dog inside during bad weather or to entertain a dog who needs to be kept a little quieter while recovering from surgery or other medical procedures (alway be sure to check with your vet if this level of activity is ok).
Dogs experience the world through their nose! A dog’s sense of smell is not only their strongest sense, sniffing is also extremely enriching for your dogs. In addition, sniffing can be very stress relieving for dogs who are overwhelmed and a fantastic way to support dogs with relaxing and decompressing after a stressful situation or a distraction during something stressful like a vet visit or during grooming. Using a snuffle mat can also encourage dogs to eat slower (if you are using the mat as a way to feed them some or all of their meals), which can aid with digestion and provide an enriching and positive outlet for dogs to be able to use their nose.
- Two or three yards of fleece.
- You can purchase whatever is on sale, or you can pick a color scheme that matches your decor. I’m a big believer that dog toys and gear should be fun! You can combine multiple colors, textures and widths of fleece to add additional texture to your mat.
- A rubber mat with holes in it.
- For a small snuffle mat you can purchase an inexpensive rubber sink mat with holes in it, or for a larger snuffle mat you can purchase rubber matting with holes that are sold at most hardware stores for use in industrial kitchens as “anti-fatigue mats.”
- Cut the fleece into strips one to three inches wide by six to eleven inches in length.
- Double knot your fleece strips through each hole going all the way down the length of the mat row by row.
- Go back and double knot the fleece strips (it helps to use a different color so you can see easier where you are going) through the holes on the diagonal making an “x” shape with your tied fleece.
- Once you have tied the fleece through the whole mat, you will have one side that is flat (that’s the bottom) and the other side that has the knots and the ends of all the fleece strips is the side that will be fun for your dog!
Ready to Play!
- Take some dry kibble (this activity is a great way to make mealtimes more exciting for your dog) and/or some dry treats that your dog likes and sprinkle them through the mat. Generally you want to avoid food and treats that are wet or moist as it will make the mat messy and more difficult to clean.
- Show your dog the snuffle mat and encourage your dog to start searching for treats - most dogs won’t need to be asked twice!
Safety Note: Be sure to always supervise your dog while they are playing with the snuffle mat. Most dogs are happy just to sniff the fabric and eat the treats, but some dogs do try to chew on the fleece. Remove the snuffle mat if you find your dog is trying to chew on the fleece or mat.
If you liked this one, go buy Chew This Journal for even more fun DIYs and activities for you and your pet!