If you’re taking on a dog, you’re essentially taking on an oversized toddler. Dog temperaments can vary from doggo to doggo, especially if they’re growing older and frailer. However, for the most part, a dog’s intellect will plateau at that of a two-year-old human. It follows, then, that dogs may be as attention-hungry as any toddler.
Image: Stylish Hound
The only problem with this is that you’re only human. You can’t entertain your big, furry toddler for every last second of the day! And in the era of working from home, this goes double. At least the ‘terrible twos’ is a temporary state of being for less hairy kiddos.
What’s the way around this? Bribery. Well—not bribery, but you can buy yourself some time. If you’ve never heard of a snuffle mat, prepare to be educated! You can thank us later, by the way.
What is a snuffle mat?
Made from a holey plastic sink mat and a whole lot of ruffled fabric, a snuffle mat is snack time and playtime rolled into one. It’s a colourful, aesthetically pleasing mat, but it isn’t its appearance that captures canine attention. Rather, it’s what humans scatter and hide throughout all those layers of fabric: kibble. Once the mat is suitably loaded, dogs will follow their nose to locate and devour their favourite treats. It’s physical and mental stimulation all in one!
Image: Stylish Hound
Why use a snuffle mat?
Besides the obvious life hack of it keeping your dog occupied? Well, for one, it gives your dog some incidental exercise. For two, it slows digestion and encourages slower eating habits. But, most prominently? It taps into a dog’s foraging instincts. When dogs receive their regular meal on a literal silver platter, eating is a fast and mindless activity. Domestication blunts a dog’s natural hunting instincts. Give them a snuffle mat, however, and this sharpens their mental faculties and natural hunting instincts. It reminds them what it means to be a dog. Their nose is what helps them to forage like their wolf ancestors, as well as make sense of everything in the world that they encounter.
So, a snuffle mat makes for a smarter, happier, all-round occupied dog? You’ll be adding this to the cart, right?
Interesting tidbits (that aren’t kibble)
Did you know that 15 minutes of snuffling burns as many calories as a one-hour walk? You heard that right! This is the most cost-effective piece of exercise equipment you will ever buy, and your dog won’t even realise they’re exercising. It’s like the canine equivalent of dancing or roller skating in that way.
Image: Stylish Hound
Moreover, the mental exercise that snuffle mats encourage can be invaluable to dogs. A lack of physical or mental exercise manifests in doggos in the form of anxiety or agitation. Some problem behaviours can include destructive chewing, hole-digging, and barking for the sake of drawing attention. However, give your dog a snuffle mat (or another form of puzzle) and this can deter these destructive behaviours, as well as reduce stress and hyperactivity. Sniffing is actually a calming, pulse-lowering activity for dogs. (Perhaps it’s their way of self-grounding.)
When you bring out a snuffle mat, be sure to supervise your pooch’s playtime. There is only so much kibble to locate, and once the ‘Easter egg hunt’ is complete, your dog may begin to roughhouse with the snuffle mat. To avoid flipped mats or ripped fabric, put the mat away once your doggo is done. And, despite what they say, sometimes you can get too much of a good thing.
Now that you know the ins and outs of snuffle mats, it’s time to treat your dog to one. Whether you want to sneak in some cheeky extra canine exercise, provide your dog with mental stimulation, or just buy yourself some ‘alone’ time, you can’t go wrong with a snuffle mat. What are you waiting for? Grab one of these highly aesthetic snuffle mats from Stylish Hound or even make one yourself! Here’s to some fun wolf roleplay for puppers—and some quiet time for paw-rents. Snuffle away, my friends. Sniff and ye shall be rewarded.