If you’re looking to make your own wooly snuffle mat for your pooch, you’re in the right place today!
In this article, I’ll share the 7 steps I use to make the highest quality snuffle mats for my dogs, at a fraction of the price of a store-bought mat.
You’ll also learn what enrichment, health, and training opportunities a snuffle mat can offer your dog.
So put on your DIY cap, and get ready to make your own wooly snuffle mat in 7 simple steps.
But before we get to the fun stuff…
What is a Snuffle Mat?
A snuffle mat is made from a rubber mat and strips of material. And it’s the perfect enrichment toy to encourage your dog to use their dazzling sense of smell to forage for food.
How to Make Your Own Wooly Snuffle Mat
Materials You’ll Need to Make a Wooly Snuffle Mat
- A rubber mat or shower mat with holes
- Fleece material
- Measuring tape
- Fabric chalk
- A piece of cardboard
7 Steps to Make Your Own Wooly Snuffle Mat
Make a cutting template with your piece of cardboard. You can choose any length and width here.
I went with a cutting template measuring 11 inches in width and 2 inches wide.
Fold your fleece material in half. Then use the cutting template and fabric chalk to measure out long strips of fabric.
Then cut the fleece along the chalk lines.
Take the long strip of fleece and wrap it around the cutting template.
Use your scissors to trim the fleece at each end of the cutting template. This will give you a pile of short, evenly sized pieces of fleece.
Turn your rubber mat upside down and weave the short fleece strips through the holes.
Now turn your rubber mat right-side-up and tie the fleece strips with knots. Do this for the entire rubber mat.
Now rinse and repeat steps 1 to 6 but this time weaving the fleece strips diagonally through the holes.
Your end result should look something like this…
Yes! It’s that easy to make your own wooly snuffle mat!
9 Reasons You Should Use a Snuffle Mat for Your Dog
#1 – Snuffle Mats Stimulate your Dog’s Most Powerful Sense
Your dog’s sense of smell is up to 100,000 times more powerful than yours.
In fact, their sense of smell is so stunning, they can detect a teaspoon of sugar in a million gallons of water!
So it makes sense that using an enrichment toy like a snuffle mat will bring your pooch joy and satisfaction.
#2 – Snuffle Mats can Boost Your Dog’s Personality
Dog’s like to look on the bright side of life. And their optimism is one of their most beloved traits.
Studies have shown that “nose work” not only makes dogs more optimistic but also supports their independence.
And what better way to help our dogs develop their personalities than by offering them fun and games with a snuffle mat?!
#3 – Snuffle Mats Stimulate Your Dog’s Natural Drive
Your pooch is genetically wired to forage for food. And even although your best friend is served two square meals a day, their natural drive to “find” food is thousands of years old.
Offering your dog a way to behave naturally and stimulate this drive with a snuffle mat is a key factor in animal welfare as this study found.
#4 – Snuffle Mats Help Burn Excess Energy
Physical activity burns energy for sure. But mental stimulation takes things to a new level.
Just like humans, thinking and problem-solving is tiring for dogs too. So when dogs are given the opportunity to use their brains, they burn a lot of excess energy.
Looking for other ways to help your dog burn energy? Check out these 9 fun games to play with dogs outside.
#5 – Snuffle Mats Help Gulpers Eat Slowly
If your dog is kibble-fed and a gulper, a snuffle mat might just be the answer to your prayers!
Sprinkling your dog’s kibble over a snuffle mat will encourage your dog to eat slower.
And if you ruffle up the fleece to hide their kibble deeper down into the mat, your dog is less likely to inhale their food because it takes time and effort to ferret out the kibble pieces.
#6 – Snuffle Mats are an Excellent Training Opportunity
Snuffle mats are an excellent way to promote impulse control in our canine friends.
I love using our mats to work on things like “sit”, “wait” and leave it.
Usually, I’ll ask for a “sit” and “wait” as I hide the treats in the snuffle mats. All while my dogs are watching my every move.
Once the mats are ready I’ll give their release command, which is “yes” and they’ll dive into their mats to start foraging for food.
This is a fun way to teach and practice the important skill of impulse control in dogs. To see this in action, check out the video I’ve shared further down in this article.
#7 – Snuffle Mats Help Reduce Stress
It’s not uncommon for dogs to become stressed in certain scenarios.
Using a snuffle mat is an easy and fun way to help stressed-out dogs become more relaxed in situations they fear.
Examples of situations where a dog might need some stress reduction are vet visits, grooming, and even car rides.
If your dog needs some R&R in these scenarios, bring along their snuffle mat to reduce stress and distract them.
If your doggo is stressed when you leave them home alone, check out these 10 science-based ways to treat separation anxiety in a dog.
#8 – Snuffle Mats are Your Friend in Bad Weather
If only we could control the weather, right? But of course, that’s not possible!
My dogs don’t mind a little heat, cold, or even snow on occasion. But there are times when it’s just not safe to take our daily walks.
This is when snuffle mats are a life-saver! Just whip your mat out to entertain and stimulate your pooch when the weather is not playing nice.
#9 – Snuffle Mats can Help Injured or Older Dogs
Injured dogs or dogs who are post-op need restricted movement. But that doesn’t change the fact that they will be bored stiff.
And if you have an older pooch that’s suffering from joint pain and reduced mobility, finding ways to keep them entertained can be tough.
It’s in these situations that you’ll find a snuffle mat extremely useful because it requires very little movement on the dog’s part. But still provides ample stimulation.
How to Use a Snuffle Mat
Snuffle mats are super simple to use. And offer a lot of fun, stimulation, and training opportunities.
To start with, sprinkle your dog’s treats or kibble over the top of the mat and let your dog have a go at foraging.
After a few tries, raise the criteria by hiding the treats deeper down and in between the fleece strips.
Or sprinkle the food and ruffle the fleece before letting your dog at the mat.
Check out this video if my crew doing a “sit” and “wait” until I release them to forage for their food rewards.
By now, you’ve seen how beneficial a snuffle mat is for dogs. And if you’re like me, there’s nothing more satisfying than making something for your dogs to enjoy.
I hope this article has encouraged you to make your own wooly snuffle mat to enjoy with your dog.
What are the dimensions of your rubber mat? Are you okay with sharing which store you bought it at? I am trying to decide how far apart the holes need to be and how big they need to be. I tend to overthink things and I’m sure this is a classic example of it.
I plan on making one of these for my done this winter! You’re tutorial is one of the better ones I’ve seen, so thank you!
I plan on using a shower matt for mine. Do you recommend taking off the suction cups? Our house is mostly carpet so I don’t think they would add much benefit unless I’m missing something.
Thanks for stopping by with your question! I’m happy to hear the tutorial is helpful. 🙂
I would definitely cut the suction cups off with a sharp carpet knife to ensure a clean cut with no bits left behind. As you say, they don’t serve any purpose and they are a chewing attraction for excited dogs.
Enjoy the project and the fun snuffle mat games! 🙂
How do you clean these?
Thanks for your question.
The store-bought ones are machine washable. And if you go the DIY route and ensure you tie the knots nice and tight, this one is machine washable too. I’ve had no issues washing the ones I made in my washing machine.
I am interested in trying to make your Wooly Snuffle Mat . I need a couple of more pictures to get me going though . I can’t picture what the mat should look like before you start . Could I please get a better explanation about the holes ? And , after tying the first knot in the srtip you said to then do it on the diagonal . Do you mean to add additional strips from the back side just like you did the first set but on the diagonal ? Ot are you feeding the first strips diagonally through to the back side so that now the back is the top side ?
Thank you ,
You can use any mat that has evenly spaced holes in it. A shower mat or even a rubber doormat will do the trick. Once you’ve woven the fleece pieces through all the holes in one direction and tied knots, do it again but this time diagonally. Weave all the fleece through the back, you want all the knotted ends only on one side. Check the picture in step 7 to see what the back of the end product looks like.
Hope this helps. 🙂
I was just wondering how much fleece ( non-pill or pill) to buy for this project. I’m a quilter so I have lots of cotton, yet no fleece. My GSD is 10 months old and even likes to tear up towels in her crate. Any chance of her chewing the fleece and should I wait until she’s older?
Thank you in advance, Cathy
PS Bailey is a beautiful Black and Tan GSD that we adopted from a rescue organization became her owners found out too late that someone needs to be home when you have a puppy in the house. I was the lucky one out of 5 applications that was the only stay at home mom, so we got her. She also plays well with out 6 year old Border Terrier, and gets down on his level to play. Kip let’s Bailey know when he’s finished playing and then she’ll get a nylabone to chew on until he’s ready to play again. So glad we have her!
Thanks for your question.
Bailey sounds like a lovely girl and I’m sure she brings you and her buddy Kip much joy!
I bought the non-pill fleece for my project because that’s all the store had. The amount you buy will depend on how big your mat is. I bought 3.5 meters (roughly 3.8 yards) of fleece for one mat. The mat I used is large with big holes. You don’t need the thickest fleece for this project, if it’s too thick it becomes difficult to thread.
It’s totally safe to let Bailey enjoy her snuffle mat at 10 months old. But this is a toy that needs supervision no matter what the age of the dog. If left to their own devices, most dogs will begin to chew and pull at the fleece, so it’s definitely a supervision toy.
Enjoy the up-coming DIY project!