So you’ve seen all this talk about snuffle mats. What are they? First, let’s take a step back and look at some evolutionary history.
Did you know that a dog’s sense of smell is their most powerful over all other senses?
In fact, dogs can smell humans and certain objects up to 12 miles away! This is a big reason how many lost dogs find their way back home.
They can even smell things up to 40 ft underground. How crazy is that?!
All dogs evolved from wolves. Wolves used their powerful sense of smell to find prey and each other in order to survive.
This same powerful sense of smell is in your dog.
Like wolves, dogs also use smell as a source of information. When your dog is smelling a tree or fire hydrant, it’s because another dog or animal marked it’s territory there.
By sniffing, your dog can tell all kinds of information about the previous animal like what animal it was, what gender, and if it was sick.
All of this collected information makes your dog more confident and comfortable in their surroundings.
However, because dogs are now domesticated and not out in nature, they often don’t get the opportunity to practice their sense of smell.
This is where nosework comes in. Nosework is what it sounds like, working your dog’s nose!
If they don’t use it, they start to lose it. So it’s important to expose your dog to new sniffing environments like the beach or the woods to get those sniffers working.
If you can’t get outside everyday, that’s ok. There are different ways to practice nosework indoors.
One way to do this is by hiding treats around your house without your dog seeing and letting him find them.
Try to hide some in easy spots first so they get the idea. Then you can move onto harder locations like behind pillows and in between books on the shelf.
Another way to practice nosework indoors is by using a snuffle mat.
Snuffle mats are a brain game for your dog that uses nosework and mental exercise to tire out your dog.
You can make a simple snuffle mat at home by tying pieces of fleece to a sink mat to create a small 12×12 in. “patch of grass” to drop treats in.
Though it may not be the prettiest looking DIY project you’ve ever done, your dog is sure to love digging their snout into the grass to find their favorite treats!
The Best Snuffle Mat: Alpha IQ
If you’re not the crafty type, or just want something more challenging for your smart pooch, I’ve recently invented the ultimate snuffle mat for your dog!
My snuffle mat that I’ve called Alpha IQ is a 3x3ft circular snuffle mat with green fleece grass and big blue flower petals with hidden treat pockets for an extra challenge.
Once your dog figures out this part of the puzzle, there are challenging extension puzzles that you can roll up and attach to the main puzzle for the ultimate nosework experience.
When creating this mat I wanted to make sure that it was the best of the best.
My dogs Cali and Archie are often too smart for their own good, and would get through a normal 12×12 in. snuffle mat in less than 10 mins.
Archie even decided to use them as a tug of war toy, so they didn’t last long in my house.
Learning from this, I automatically decided that I wanted to make a bigger puzzle with a larger sniffing surface which would create a bigger mental challenge for a dog.
On top of this, I knew that like my dogs, there are plenty of smart sniffers out there like hunting breeds and hound dogs that are known for their powerful sense of smell.
For dogs like these, I decided to make 5 different extension puzzles to give them an extra challenge.
The results? My dogs went from tackling the original puzzle in under 10 mins to spending over an hour and a half working on my Alpha IQ puzzle!
Not only did they have a blast, but they were absolutely exhausted after they finished.
Why Every Dog Owner Needs a Snuffle Mat
I believe that everyone with a dog should have a snuffle mat in their house for several reasons.
It’s great for those snowy or rainy days that you can’t get outside. It is also a great distraction for dogs who beg while everyone is at the dinner table.
One of my friends had a golden retriever that would drool on her leg through her whole dinner.
But with this mat she and her family can eat in peace without the hot dog breath looming under the table.
I like to use the mat when I’m writing my blog posts to keep Archie from staring at me while I work. It keeps him busy and helps me be more productive.
Has your dog used a snuffle mat before? What kind of dog do you have and was their experience with it? Let me know in the comments!
If you would like to get one of my Alpha IQ snuffle mats, you can get one here at my Etsy Shop.