A bored dog is certainly not a happy dog, and there’s nothing worse than knowing your pup does nothing but wait around for you all day in an empty house with nothing to do.
This is compounded by the fact that bored dogs are more prone to exhibit behavioral problems that can lead to destroyed belongings inside your home. Worse, being bored can be detrimental to your dog’s health.
Luckily, there are tools and toys you can invest in to help ensure your dog is kept happy and busy during the day when you’re away!
That’s right, folks – we’re talking about the snuffle mat! But what is a snuffle mat, you ask?
These unique dog toys serve as fabulous tools you can use to keep your dog busy and entertained without too much effort on your part. Today we are listing some of the top snuffle mat designs available so that you can find one that suits you and your dog just right!
Let’s get started!
Okay, But What Is A Snuffle Mat?
Dogs need different toys and tools to help keep them mentally stimulated.
A snuffle mat is a very simple type of dog toy that helps not only reduce boredom and anxiety in dogs, but it can also help with weight control by implementing slow feeding. Slow feeding can further help reduce the chances of your dog suffering from Gastric Dilation Volvulus (AKA Bloat).
In general, the snuffle mat is a flat pad that can be laid on your floor or other flat surface that is dog-safe, and typically includes fringe-like material that sticks up like grass or debris. Some snuffle mats include puzzle toys, hidden squeakers, stuffed animals, or even fun landscapes that help your pet feel as adventurous as they would if they were foraging outdoors.
The objective of the snuffle mat is to hide treats, food, or even small toys from your dog and encourage his natural instinct to use his sense of smell to hunt down the goodies.
Let’s take a look at some of the main benefits for you and your dog when it comes to using a snuffle mat.
Snuffle Mats Help Encourage Healthy Eating Habits
You may have heard of a slow feeder, and while not common, snuffle mats can be used in a similar sense. If your dog has a habit of scarfing his food down too quickly, you can use snuffle mats to help encourage healthy eating habits by turning mealtime into a game.
Of course, this only works if your dog eats dry food, but you can scoop dry kibbles into the mat and allow your dog to sift through the material to find his kibbles, ultimately forcing him to eat slower and thus helping reduce digestive issues.
As we mentioned above, snuffle mats can also help reduce the chances of your dog swallowing air which can lead to a serious and sometimes deadly condition known as Bloat.
Snuffle Mats Encourage Your Dog’s Natural Instinct To Forage
All dogs have a natural instinct to forage, which basically means they enjoy using their sense of smell to sniff things out. When you’re out and about on walks, watch your dog as he sniffs through grass and along the bases of trees, fire hydrants, sidewalks, and park benches.
Every scent is telling your dog a story of what was there before he was, and sometimes it even hints at a goodie or treat hiding nearby. Unfortunately, these “goodies or treats” on the streets or sidewalks are probably not good for your dog to consume, but you can still give your dog a sense of success and reward for his foraging by offering him the same type of stimulation indoors with a snuffle mat.
Snuffle Mats Keep Your Dog Busy And Entertained
Though snuffle mats will not keep your dog engaged for hours on end, they can be a great addition to your dog’s toy box for shorter periods of time when you need to help keep your dog distracted.
You can also use snuffle mats to redirect negative behaviors. For example, if your dog is barking excessively out the window at the neighbors or if your dog is chewing something you don’t want him to be chewing, you can pull out the mat!
Toss a few treats into the snuffle mat and watch him enjoy himself!
If you are looking for other toys to help keep your dog entertained for longer periods of time, we suggest using treat dispensers like KONGS or chew toys designed to last for several hours to use in conjunction with your snuffle mat.
Snuffle Mats Can Be Used In Multi-Dog Households And Even WIth Dogs And Cats
Another thing we love about snuffle mats is that they can be used in multi-dog households and even multi-pet households.
Both dogs and cats tend to enjoy foraging through snuffle mats looking for treats and goodies, and this can be a great tool for dogs to use together.
However, we do not advise you using a snuffle mat in multi dog households if your dogs are food aggressive or otherwise territorial over things like bones, toys, or treats.
If this is the case, separate dogs when using the snuffle mat so they can use it safely on their own.
Snuffle Mats Come In Many Varieties
Last, snuffle mats come in a wide variety of options. You have the most simple snuffle mats for those who do not require as much stimulation, and then there are more intrastate snuffle mats for dogs who may become bored easily or may find general snuffle mats too easy.
We suggest starting off with a basic snuffle mat, especially if you have smaller dogs or puppies, and building your way up to snuffle mats that include other types of stimulating toys like puzzle toys and stuffed animal attachments.
Our Favorite Snuffle Mat Products of 2023
Our favorite snuffle mats combine a snuffle mat with an activity mat. You don’t want your dog bored like this one above!
Snuffle mats have been around for a quite some time, but they are becoming more and more advanced with each passing year.
And the more we learn about our canine counterparts, the more we discover about what they like and how their brains work. This means that snuffle mats have been advancing, and there are many options you can choose from both online and at your local pet store.
As you search for the best snuffle mat for your pup, there are a few factors you’ll want to keep in mind. You’ll want to make sure that the snuffle mat is large enough for your dog to comfortably forage through on his own, while also making sure that the material is durable and won’t cause irritation or lead to a choking hazard if your dog happens to gnaw or chew on it.
Are you wondering about the best snuffle mat options for 2023? We have listed our top picks for you to consider below!
RundA Snuffle Mat For Dogs
RundA Snuffle Mat For Dogs is first on our list of these interactive dog toys.
We like that this snuffle mat can be used on any surface that’s safe for your pet both indoors and out. It’s made from high-quality materials that are easy to wash and dry. You can even put it in the dishwasher if necessary!
NEECONG Snuffle Mat
The NEECONG Snuffle Mat is another product we love for a few different reasons.
The mat is made of soft, durable materials that can be used in any room of your home. It also comes in several colors, so you can choose a color that matches your decor. It’s easy to clean and maintain as well, which is a must when it comes to a snuffle mat so it doesn’t develop mold and bacteria.
Pet Race Dog Snuffle Mad And Feed Game
The Pet Race Dog Snuffle Mad And Feed Game is a snuffle mat with a twist. It’s a fun and interactive treat dispensing toy that allows your dog to forage while also encouraging play with its additional add-ons.
This mat in particular has also been designed to help dogs slow down when they eat, allowing them to enjoy their food more thoroughly, instead of wolfing it down in seconds flat, so if your dog is a quick eater, this may be a great snuffle mat option.
DyPinYise Snuffle Mat And Activity Mat For Dogs
The DyPinYise Snuffle Mat And Activity Mat For Dogs has a variety of textures and materials that will keep your dog busy and entertained.
The surface is equipped with hidden squeakers that have been sewn into pockets in each corner of the mat for extra stimulation, so it can help keep your dog stimulated even after he has found all his hidden treats!
HOPET Store Large Interactive Snuffle Mat
The HOPET Store Large Interactive Snuffle Mat is another interactive snuffle mat for large breed dogs that can be used on its own or in combination with other products like the treat balls or KONGS.
The mat provides both exercise and mental stimulation for your dog using durable materials built to last for years of use. It’s also easy to clean and it’s even dishwasher safe!
Let’s Talk About The Importance Of Mental Stimulation For Dogs
Making sure your puppy has a variety of toys and tools in his toybox can help keep him happy while you’re busy.
All dogs, regardless of size, breed, or age, require daily mental stimulation to stay happy and healthy.
Like people, dogs can become easily bored in their day to day lives, especially if they are left to their own devices for too long, if their owners are away for long periods of time, or if their owners are distracted. For the most part, mental stimulation can be provided by interacting and playing with pups, which you likely do when you’re home and able.
However, most of us don’t have time to entertain our dogs all day long, and this is where specialized toys and tools can come in handy.
There are many products on the market today that can serve as great toys for dogs to prevent boredom. These toys include puzzle toys, treat dispensers, dog chews, and snuffle mats.
We especially like snuffle mats because they encourage your dog’s natural instinct to forage and use their sense of smell to find treats and food. But more on this further down.
For now, let’s talk about why mental stimulation not only helps to keep your dog out of trouble, but also helps prolong his lifespan and enhance his quality of life.
Keeping Your Dog Out Of Trouble With Mental Stimulation
When dogs become bored during the day or night, they are more prone to get themselves into trouble by engaging in destructive behaviors like chewing.
And while it can drive you crazy to wake up and find your chair leg devoured or your favorite pair of shoes torn to shreds, you have to put yourself in your dog’s position.
Dogs spend the majority of their lives in our homes or backyards, and they only get out of the house a few times a day for walks or potty breaks. Without help from you, they are left to find things inside the home to occupy themselves in order to keep from going stir crazy.
It’s important to remember as well that dogs don’t have a sense of material items. They won’t be aware that the chair leg they chewed or the shoes they gobbled up were expensive or important to you. They only know that for a while chewing those items helped them stay busy.
But destructive behaviors aren’t the only negative behaviors dogs can engage in when they are bored. Dogs who are bored may also resort to excessive barking, marking, digging, and more.
Luckily, you can help redirect these behavior problems by ensuring your dog has plenty to do while you’re busy or away using tools and toys we mentioned above, and especially using something like a snuffle mat.
Keeping Your Dog Healthy With Mental Stimulation
Destructive behaviors are not only a sign your dog is bored, but they could also be a sign that your dog is anxious.
Dogs with very little to do throughout the day are more prone to suffering emotionally as well, which can lead to anxiety and depression. Anxiety and depression can lead to a weakened immune system in dogs, which can in turn lead to premature aging and illnesses down the road.
Keeping your dog properly mentally stimulated and mentally exercised is just as important as keeping your dog physically exercised and can help keep him happy and healthy for years to come.
Other Tips To Keeping Your Dog Healthy Both Mentally And Physically
Physical exercise, play, and mental stimulation all go hand-in-hand to ensuring your dog is happy and healthy.
Along with investing in puzzle toys, treat dispensers, and snuffle mats to help keep your dog busy and active, it’s also important to follow other tips and tricks to ensure your dog is healthy both mentally and physically.
Remember, our dogs rely on us to keep them happy and healthy, and it’s important to make sure you understand your dog and his unique needs so that you can adequately meet them.
We should note that not all dogs have the same needs, and different breeds and mixes have different levels of intelligence and energy.
Make sure you research the type of dog you have if you’re not sure of his needs, and pay attention to the amount of exercise and mental stimulation he needs each day to keep him sound and fit.
Highly intelligent dogs bred for working purposes are especially prone to behavioral issues if they are not kept mentally stimulated, as are dogs with a high level of energy.
Some of the top breeds that could benefit from a snuffle mat include dogs like Labrador Retrievers, Siberian Huskies, Poodles, Collies, Hound Dogs, and German Shepherds.
However, all dogs can benefit from puzzle toys and snuffle mats, so we certainly suggest investing in one.
So, which snuffle mat above caught your attention? We’d love to hear your thoughts! Tell us what you think in the comment section below.
Thanks for reading!
Jen Jones is a professional dog trainer and behavior specialist with more than 25 years of experience. As the founder of ‘Your Dog Advisor’ and the ‘Canine Connection’ rehabilitation center, she applies a holistic, empathetic approach, aiming to address root causes rather than merely treating symptoms.
Well known for her intuitive and compassionate approach, Jen adopts scientifically-proven, reward-based methods, encouraging positive reinforcement over punishment. Jen specializes in obedience training, behavior modification, and puppy socialization. Her innovative methods, particularly in addressing anxiety and aggression issues, have been widely recognized. Jen has worked with many of the world’s leading dog behaviorists and in her free time volunteers with local animal shelters and rescue groups.