Snuffle mats seem to be all the rage lately in the dog world. If the term ‘snuffle mat’ hasn’t yet made it to your various social media or news feed, let me fill you in. A snuffle mat is essentially a mat with flaps of fleece that a dog owner (or cat owner) puts the dog’s food hidden within and the dog sniffs around (snuffles) finding all of the bits of food and crumbs hidden in the nooks and crannies of the mat. Snuffle mats are used to enable people yet another way to ditch the food bowl and feed their pets in an enriched environment. Meaning feeding time is more mindfully engaged for the animal using various senses than the mindless feeding straight out of a food dish. These are also great for dogs that gulp or inhale their food, helping them to slow down and find their food bit by bit.
The most common instructions for a snuffle mat involve using a plastic or rubber mat base that has holes throughout. Then knotting in strips of fleece to make something like in this photo:
The downside to using a rubber mat base is the things are a. challenging to clean (so you really can only feed dry dog food or other non messy treats in it), b. heavy (might not be a downside depending on your dog and lifestyle) and c. pretty set in their size meaning they won’t change shape much when you want to store them or travel with them (I like things that fold up smaller and are easy to transport).
So I’ve been thinking and thinking about how to make on that is lighter weight, easier to store and transport, and washable. And came up with the following plans.
The end size of the snuffle mat I’m making is approx 24.5″ x 17.5″ which seems to be a suitable size for both Tom and Zora to easily enjoy. If you had a dog that was larger or smaller, adjust your measurements and size accordingly. If I was just making it for Zora I could probably go down to about a foot square in size, but I have Tom and other larger dogs in and out of my life so I think for me the size I gave is most versatile.
Because this mat is light weight and made completely of fleece, it is intended to be used by your dog supervised by an adult human. After you’re done using it for that meal or snuffle period, please pick it up and store it out of your dog’s reach until you’re ready to supervise them using it once more.
DIY Washable Snuffle Mat for Enriched Dog Meal Times:
- 1 18″x50″ piece of fleece for the base
- 2 pieces of at least 18″x 25″ fleece (can use the same color or a different color or pattern) for the snuffle flaps (if you want a denser mat of flaps, you will need more fleece)
- sewing machine and thread
Step 1: Take the 18″x50″ piece of the fleece and fold it in half with top side facing in. So you now have a double layer fleece measuring 25″ x 18″ (you could do a single layer base if you wanted meaning you’d skip steps 1-3, but I found a double layer base to be a bit more sturdy and hold up better)
Step 2: Using your sewing machine, sew a 5/8″ seam around the 3 open sides, stopping about 5″ short on the 3rd side so you have an opening.
Step 3: Invert it, so the top side is now facing out and the seams are inside the bag you have now created. Tuck in the open seam and sew it shut. You should now have a piece of double layer fleece approx 17.5″x24.5″ Set this aside for now.
Step 4: Take your other 2 pieces of fleece and cut strips ranging from 6-10″ wide. You should now have a bunch of strips 6-10″ wide x 18″ long.
Step 5: Fold each of these strips in half the long way (so you have them 3″ w x 18″ lor 4″ w x 18″ l or 5″ w x 18″ l) and if you’d like mark the half point with a bit of chalk.
Step 6: Unfold each strip, and place them on your double sided fleece base that you completed in the earlier steps. Place them evenly spaced on 1 side of the fleece. If you are using different colored or patterned strips arrange them in which ever order side by side you’d like. Depending on how thick or spares you’d like this fleece hunting area for your dog to be, space the strips so they will have fabric overlapping tightly or loosely. If you want a really thick mat, you are likely going to need more fleece to cut a greater number of fabric strips.
Step 7: Sew down the middle of each strip, long wise, attaching each strip to the double sided fleece. In the end you should have long flaps of fleece sewn to the base.
Step 8: Now that you’ve finished all of the sewing parts, go around the mat and cut off any hanging threads. We don’t want a dog to get those!
Step 9: Cut into each long sewn on flap cutting toward the sewn line to make flaps from 1.5-3″ wide. You want to create many smaller flaps to hide the kibble and treats in.
Step 10: Lay the completed mat on the floor and bury some treats or kibble in it! Call your dog over and have a great time enjoying them snuffle around in their brand new Snuffle Mat!
Step 11: When your dog is done, pick up the mat, shake out any crumbs they may have missed and put it away until the next meal. Or if you’ve put any messy, gooey or raw food in it for your dog to find, toss it in the laundry to clean.