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- Food toys like snuffle mats engage a dog’s natural instincts and prevent boredom and behavior issues.
- My dogs use the Paw5 Wooly Snuffle Mat to hunt for treats, and it helps them burn off extra energy.
- The sustainably made mat has held up to my two dogs and holds up well in the washing machine.
Foraging is a natural instinct for dogs, and my two hounds love nothing more than using their noses, especially on long walks. But there are days when the weather isn’t great and I have to find ways for them to burn off energy indoors.
Enter the Paw5 Wooly Snuffle Mat. Snuffle mats have a cult-following among dog guardians and trainers because they provide pups with mental stimulation by encouraging their natural instinct to forage. These low-tech treat toys are designed to mimic grass with strips of fleece material between which you can hide food. It’s as simple as tossing tasty treats or kibble on top of the mat and letting your dog go on a treasure hunt for hidden treats.
Our review of the Paw5 Wooly Snuffle Mat for Dogs
Paw5’s Wooly Snuffle Mat is durable, made from sustainable materials, and machine washable. The mat is available in one color, grey, and at 12 inches by 18 inches, it’s a perfect size for most dogs.
Both my dogs participate in a sport called K9 Nose Work, which means they search for odors paired with food in containers. Hunting for food requires a lot of energy from dogs and can also help diffuse built-up anxiety. The snuffle mat is like a game we’d play in Nose Work class.
You can just toss kibble or treats on top, but it’s easy to make this hide-and-seek game last longer if you hide a lot of small pieces throughout the mat. I do this with my dachshund Walter who is a very busy dog in need of the ultimate challenge. Some people also use the snuffle mat at meal time to slow down fast eaters.
If you have a dog prone to boredom and nuisance behaviors, the Wooly Snuffle Mat may be a good management tool. “Enrichment goes into the management bucket because through the use of puzzle toys, flirt poles, fetch games, etc., we can offset the boredom that leads to behavior problems,” according to the Academy for Dog Trainers. The mats are also great for dogs that can’t exercise post-surgery.
What’s more, enrichment activities like snuffle mats and food puzzles can limit the signs of canine cognitive dysfunction in senior dogs, which is similar to dementia in humans, according to Dr. Katherine Houpt, professor emeritus of behavioral medicine at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. My 14-year-old beagle Sherman has trouble going on the same hikes he used to when he was younger, so a game indoors between meals helps keep him sharp. “If dogs were in the wild, this is what they’d be doing. They’d be looking for little tidbits to eat,” Houpt explained.
What makes this dog snuffle mat stand out
Paw5’s emphasis on sustainability places the Wooly Snuffle Mat above the competition. Each mat is handmade from upcycled polyester and cotton fabric that is soft and non abrasive on a dog’s nose. It’s also easy to clean. After a few uses, you’ll want to throw it in the wash. Even after more than 20 washes, our mat still looks good.
The mat can hold the odors of the treats and tempt some dogs to chew it, so you should supervise your pet. Also, the mat doesn’t have a no-slip bottom, so I’ve found it works best on carpet.
This isn’t a game for all your dogs to play together. I put one of our dogs behind a baby gate so they each have their own turn at the game. You don’t want to encourage guarding behavior.
The bottom line
There are very few products I’ve found that burn energy indoors and tire out my two hounds. The Paw5 Wooly Snuffle Mat is the best toy to have on hand for rainy, snowy, or hot days when you have to cut walks short. Even if you don’t think you’ll use it daily, it’s worth having in your enrichment toolkit.
Pros: Easy to set up, tires dogs out, sustainably made, easy to clean
Cons: Aggressive chewers may start to chew on their mat, requires supervision, should only be used by one dog at a time