I’m excited to show you how to create an affordable DIY snuffle mat for your dog with just a few supplies. Follow my simple step-by-step instructions to make your very own snuffle mat. This toy is a great way to provide your furry friends with mental stimulation, help to slow down their eating and give them a healthy outlet for their natural instinct to sniff.
In this post learn about the benefits of a snuffle mat, the best base to use, the material I recommend, and exactly how much it cost me to make these. I also have a tutorial video halfway down the page so you can see exactly how I make these.
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Easy and Affordable Snuffle Mat Project
I made my first DIY snuffle mat for my dogs in April 2020. That one was on a cardboard base and I upcycled an old fleece blanket for the strips. Those were the materials I had on hand in lockdown and they worked great! We’ve been using those snuffle mats several times per week for the past three years.
But making my original DIY snuffle mats on cardboard meant I wasn’t able to wash them. Over three years they got pretty grimy! Burt and Lucy deserved fresh new snuffle mats… and this time they are washable! With the plastic sink mat backing and fleece fabric strips, I can rinse this in warm water with non-toxic soap and let it air dry. I do not recommend putting this in the washing machine (if you do, let me know what happens!).
Snuffle Mat Supplies List:
- 2 plastic sink mats from Dollar Tree ($1.25 each) -> similar from Amazon
- 1 yard of fleece fabric (I got mine on clearance at Joann for $2.97 per yard)
- Scissors or Rotary Cutter and Cutting Mat
- A ruler or measuring tape
- Small treats or dry food -> try cricket treats!
I’m really excited about how affordable it is to make this snuffle mat! Since my dogs are big labradors, I wanted to double up the sink mats to give them a bigger mat to play with. I purchased 4 sink mats at Dollar Tree to make 2 large mats.
Finding fleece on clearance at Joann was also a great find! Don’t pay full price… use coupons and look in the clearance racks! Personally, I didn’t care about using different colors for my strips of fabric. You know the dogs don’t care what this looks like, so I went with what was on clearance! And I think it still turned out really cute.SNuffle
Want to know exactly how much it cost to make this snuffle mat?? For the small mat, it costs $4.22 in supplies! And for the large mat, it costs $8.44 in supplies!
An enriching toy for under $10 that will give your dog years of fun?! Make this ASAP!
How to Make a Snuffle Mat for Dogs
Once you have your plastic or rubber sink mat and fleece fabric, you’re ready to make your snuffle mat! To make the larger one, it took me about 2 hours and 1 yard of fleece to cover the whole mat. I just sat on the couch and watched a cheesy movie while I tied all the knots. For the smaller mat, you can probably make it in about 1 hour.
When you have your supplies ready and time to work on this DIY snuffle mat, this project will come together quickly. This is a great project to do with kids or a group of friends for a craft night.
Step-by-Step DIY Snuffle Mat Instructions:
1.Cut the fleece strips: Begin by laying out your fleece fabric on a flat surface. Use scissors to cut the fabric strips about 1-2 inches wide. Each strip should be about 6-8 inches long.
I’m a sewer, so I have a rotary cutter and cutting mat that made this go very quickly, But if you only have scissors, that’s OK! Cut up the entire length of fleece you bought. Trust me, you will need it all and it’s easier to tie all the strips on when you have them all ready to go.
2. Connect the sink mats: This is if you want to make the large snuffle mat. To connect 2 sink mats, place them side by side, aligning them so one or two rows of holes match up. I used 3 plastic zip ties to connect them. One at the top, middle, and bottom. Trim the excess plastic strip from the zip tie. Then cover each tie with a fleece strip, Double knot these, and make sure there are no pointy parts sticking out.
3. Attach the fleece strips: Start at one corner of the plastic sink mat. Thread one end of a fleece strip up through a hole, and the other end up through the next hole over. Both ends of the strip should be on top of the mat. Tie a tight knot using the two ends of the strip. You don’t need to double-knot here.
If you have enough strips of fleece, you might want to tie some around the outer edge of the mat. I didn’t do this on mine, but it would give it a more finished look.
4. Fill the mat with fleece strips: Continue threading and knotting the fleece strips in each hole of the sink mats. Your goal is to fill the entire mat with fleece strips, leaving no empty holes. I work across one full row at a time. Some tutorials online recommend going back over in the opposite direction. But I feel like my mats are plenty dense enough and didn’t need the second layer.
5. Fluff the snuffle mat: Once all the holes are filled and your fleece strips are tied, turn over your mat and fluff up the fleece strips. You should have a dense, soft surface for your dog to sniff and forage through.
How to Introduce a snuffle mat to your dog
If this is your dog’s first time using a snuffle mat, take it slow and make it easy for them. Nose work (any game that involves using your dog’s sense of smell) might be a brand-new activity and they might not understand what the game is all about.
For beginners, place a few small tasty treats or kibble pieces on top of the fleece strips and point them out to your dog.
As they figure out how fun their new toy is, you can start to hide the treats and kibble among the fleece strips. I would recommend you use dry treats or food that doesn’t have a ton of crumbs to get the best use out of your snuffle mat.
If you feel like your dog understands the snuffle mat and is enjoying it, you can start feeding them a meal with the mat a few times per week. I love to feed my senior labs Burt and Lucy their dinner in a snuffle mat about once a week.
If you’re doing snuffle mats with 2 dogs in your household at the same time, I recommend you start by placing the mats in different rooms and closely supervising the activity. My dogs usually finish their own mats and then trade to make sure the other one didn’t miss any food. They have come up with the agreement on their own and don’t show any signs of food aggression with each other. But just be careful and supervise your dogs when they do this together.
A lot of people think canine enrichment toys are something you can give your dog to get them to leave you alone for a while. While kongs and stuffed toppls can be great for this, you’re missing out on a great bonding opportunity if you leave your dog to do a snuffle mat totally alone.
One of the great perks of enrichment is the chance to bond with your dog and live in the moment like they do! I enjoy watching my dogs sniff around their mats and I will often cheer them on and tell them what a great job they’re doing.
Ready for this Budget Friendly Enrichment Activity
As you can see, with just a few dollars and a little bit of time, you can complete this fun project and have a new washable DIY snuffle mat for your dog. This enrichment toy provides great mental stimulation while also encouraging slower eating and strengthening your dog’s sense of smell.
Dog enrichment doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive. There are a lot of fun games and toys that you can DIY and affordable ingredients you use for food-based enrichment with stuffable toys like a Kong or Toppl.
Want to learn about more canine enrichment activities? Check out these posts:
The best all-natural dog chews for aggressive chewers
Review: Nina Ottosson Hide’n’Slide Dog Enrichment puzzle
What’s a West Paw Toppl? And how do you use it?
DIY Busy Box for dogs using recycled containers
Kong Stuffing recipes my labradors LOVE!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best base for a snuffle mat? For this updated version of my snuffle mat, I used plastic sink mats from Dollar Tree. You can also use rubber sink mats or anything that is a large square or rectangle with holes in it. A wire cooling rack for baking could make a nice base! When I originally made my first snuffle mat in 2020, I used cardboard because that’s what I had on hand. It worked great but I wasn’t able to wash it.
Can you use a towel as a snuffle mat? I call this a treat burrito! You can see how to use an old towel as a scent work enrichment game in this short video I shared.
Why are snuffle mats so good? Snuffle mats fall under the category of olfactory enrichment… which means your dog has to use their sense of smell to figure out this activity. Sniffing is a highly rewarding natural instinct for our dogs. Studies have shown sniffing is also a naturally calming activity for our dogs. If you have a dog who isn’t able to go for long walks because of surgery, injury, or age, incorporating scent games like a DIY snuffle mat is a great way to keep them mentally engaged and tire them out without a ton of physical movement.