A sniffing carpet is an ingeniously simple solution for dogs to simulate a search for food in the grass when no real meadow is available.
That is why sniffing carpets are occasionally also offered as “sniffing lawns” or “sniffing meadows”. But a sniffing mat is not just a great activity idea for house dogs.
Even on rainy days, when you are sick, and for daily use in between, every dog actually likes snuffle mats, even better than a food bowl.
Picky eaters often taste better the meal they have prepared themselves. And greedy dogs can be encouraged with a sniffing carpet to eat in a decent manner and stimulate them mentally at the same time.
So, for dogs that eat dry food, snuffle mats are a great alternative to the traditional food bowl and a great addition to an anti-sling bowl.
Don’t have an anti-sling bowl for your dog yet?
If you realize that you won’t get to it anyway, then you can simply buy a snuffle mat:
Here is a list of the best sniffer mats for different sniffer types, sizes, and needs:
1. Classic snuffle mats in bright colors
These sniffing rugs in different sizes and colors offer you the opportunity to find the rug for your individual needs.
Thanks to dense fringes in two different lengths, the search fun lasts for a long time and after daily use, the sniffer carpet can also be washed in the machine.
This sniffing rug with many rolled-up strips is more suitable for small biscuits and is therefore particularly suitable for medium-sized dogs (cats like it too, by the way!).
Before using it for the first time, the snuffle mat should be put in the washing machine, but according to the manufacturer, this is not a problem.
2. Snuffle mat with felt strips
This sniffing rug made of dimensionally stable green strips of the film is reminiscent of real green in terms of color. The “SCHNUFFELTEPPICH” from this British supplier is washable at 30 ° in the washing machine.
Silicone nubs on the underside prevent the 46 x 34 cm sniffing carpet from slipping.
No products were found.
3. Sunflower Snuffle Mat
This pretty round sniffing carpet with a diameter of 48 cm is something different.
Otherwise, the sniffing carpet scores with the usual features: non-slip underside, machine washable, and lots of fun.
4. Takeaway Snuffle Mat
This sniffing carpet in the practical transport bag has an unfolded diameter of 30 cm.
The highlight: This sniffing carpet can be easily pulled together with a cord and easily stowed away and taken with you. This makes it particularly interesting as an anti-loop rug for on-the-go.
5. Schnüffelwiese with many hiding places
This sniffing meadow ♥ offers many hiding places for large and small biscuits over a large area.
This makes them particularly interesting and extends the fun of the game. All in all, a great change from the normal sniffer carpet.
Why Dogs Like Snuffle Mats
Dogs like snack toys. The great joy about snack balls, food toys and also sniffing carpets is certainly largely due to the quite obvious realization that food can logically be found in food games.
Every living thing has to eat. And if you have to eat, you like food. One more, the other less.
Snuffle mats keep the dog busy
But even beyond that, many dogs just like to think of new problem-solving strategies and follow natural behaviors.
If you consider the fact that the daily routine of dogs in the “wild” consists mainly of finding food and sleeping, you can understand the great motivation to go looking for food even after the first hunger pangs.
With a snuffle mat, you can satisfy both of the dog’s needs. And that is exactly what employment for dogs is supposed to do.
»More on this in the article on need-based activity with dogs.
Snuffle mats help against snares
In a snuffle mat, a meal that the dog would otherwise wolf down in 30 seconds can be stretched into 10-15 minutes of focused searching.
Unlike some anti-sling products and food toys, which simply provide the dog with a frustrating barrier between him and his obvious food, this allows the dog to search for his food the natural way: With his nose.
This not only makes food intake slow, but also interesting for the dog.
Nevertheless: nothing against anti-sling bowls for this purpose.
» Here you will find the selection guide for good anti-sling bowls.
Snuffle mats have a relaxing effect
Sniffing carpets have the positive effect that they are played with statically and are more relaxing than food balls that have to be rolled around wildly.
When searching with the nose, the dog is not only mentally busy. Even excited dogs find it pretty easy to concentrate on one task for a long time with snuffle mats.
This concentration exercise also helps to calm jittery fidgety dogs. A sniffing carpet is part of my daily routine.
Snuffle mats are ideal for dogs with limited mobility
If your dog is old, sick, or on bed rest due to an injury, wild activity games are not an option.
However, it is also important for dog seniors, dogs with dementia, dogs with osteoarthritis and other joint problems, and dogs who are bored in hospital camps and don’t want to rest to be offered appropriate activities.
Snuffle carpets have the advantage that they offer great utilization even when lying down and in a small space.
Even fussy dogs like snuffle mats
If you put a full bowl in front of a fussy dog, you usually get little enthusiasm.
It may sound absurd at first, but a snuffle mat can change that.
Because first of all, you change the scenario that triggers the most learned disgusted reaction to offered food: you simply leave out the bowl.
And secondly, food simply tastes better if you have to work a bit for it.
Snuffle mats are ideal for office dogs
You can also offer the dog a small sniffing carpet on its berth in the office.
This provides variety and activity for the dog, which the colleagues don’t notice much about. Because a sniffing carpet makes no noise and if you use semi-moist chunks of food, you won’t even hear the dog chewing.
Anyone can fill a snuffle mat in seconds
Do you know those food toys where you spend much longer filling them yourself than the dog does? Not so with the snuffle mat!
You can of course take the trouble to hide every cookie in the sniffing carpet by hand. But you can also leave it alone and simply trickle a handful of biscuits over the carpet, wiggle your hand through the fleece, and shake it a bit, done!
The one with the snuffle carpet is ideal for doing something good for the dog before it is left alone. And even the most inexperienced dog sitter should be able to do it without much guidance.
Insecure dogs quickly have a sense of achievement in the sniffing carpet
Not every dog thrives when faced with difficult tasks.
However, a snuffle mat is fun for dogs not because of its complexity and difficulty, but because hunting for treasure with their noses is a very satisfying experience for dogs.
If your dog is overwhelmed with other food and intelligence toys and gives up quickly, then try a snuffle mat!
How often can you offer the dog a snuffle mat?
In principle, you can use the snuffle mat every day.
Dogs are born to work their noses and very few dogs have to worry about a fatigue effect.
However, since you want variety and want to offer other feeding games, you either use only part of the daily ration for the sniffing carpet or you offer your dog a sniffing carpet alternately with other activity ideas.
With destroyers, you should also stick with playing a sniffing carpet. Because of course an incorrigible dog could tear off pieces and swallow here too.
The best biscuits for the dog snuggle rug
In principle, any dry or semi-moist type of food can be scattered on a sniffing mat.
So if you feed dry food anyway or use it as a biscuit, you can also use the usual chunks in the sniffing carpet.
Big chunks and biscuits don’t make sense, of course, if they are visible to the dog without a nose insert.
Types of food for mini dogs offer the greatest effect, so I always buy a bag when it jumps at me. At the moment I’m using these really tiny biscuits for the sniffing carpet.
Logically, canned and raw food is not suitable for use in a textile sniffer carpet.
If you are on a strict diet because of allergies or organic problems, you can ask your vet if jerky cubes or home-baked dog biscuits are okay.
Quality features of sniffing carpets
Making a large snuffle mat by hand takes time.
Nevertheless, it is not the case here that the expensive products are necessarily the best.
And some prices are a bit crazy in my opinion. With the same money and a bit of hard work, you can make several snuffle mats for your own dogs or to give them away.
Especially since the big work in the manual production of a snuffle carpet is cutting the webs and knotting them. In the case of off-the-shelf rugs, the strips are cut by machine, and the rugs are usually sewn and not knotted.
Although this is also “handwork” (sorry, the term is only supposed to suggest that it was loving workmanship and not Asian assembly line work anyway), it doesn’t make them inferior, but it doesn’t justify the sometimes quite high prices either.
If you want real handwork, you are welcome to look around on Etsy.
For the same price, you can often get actual handwork and then you can choose the colors yourself.
The quality of the fabric strips
There are sniffing rugs with a lot of rolled up, stretchy strips of very thin fleece and those with rather a few heavy, thick strips of fabric, occasionally even made of felt.
The large mass of sniffing carpets is something in between and uses a medium number of medium-thick fleece strips. The simple reason: synthetic fiber does not absorb moisture and is easier to clean.
Until now I hadn’t realized that the arrangement of the stripes made a big difference for my dogs when searching.
The only determining factor here is the length of the fabric strips: the more chaotic and longer the strips, the longer the search fun.
Of course, high-quality fabrics should be able to withstand more than inferior ones. In my experience, however, the dog is the limiting factor here rather than the substance.
If the dog only searches with its nose and doesn’t drool excessively on its rug, even cheap and homemade sniffing rugs will last for a very long time.
If a dog rummages in the Snuffle Mat with its paws, pulls at the fabric with its teeth, and soils the Snuffle Mat so badly that it has to go in the washing machine all the time, a Snuffle Mat just doesn’t last that long.
Non-slip floor or not?
It is not absolutely necessary that the bottom of the snuffle mat is heavy and rubberized.
This is most relevant for dogs, who attack the sniffing carpet like little berserkers and push it through the whole apartment.
Here you can also simply place a heavy object in the middle of the sniffer carpet for the first rounds or place the sniffer carpet in the dog basket or a drip tray.
What you should also consider: A thick rubber coating on the underside of the sniffer mat prevents you from rolling up the good piece and stowing it away to save space.
And even the best rubber coating will eventually become brittle and fall apart or come off in the washing machine.
Additional brain games on the sniffing meadow
There are no limits to the imagination here. Many suppliers have now built additional “hurdles” on their sniffing meadows in the form of special fabric arrangements, grooves, and pockets.
You have to differentiate yourself from the competition somehow.
There is nothing inherently wrong with that, as long as the dog can handle everything with its nose and snout.
I advise against Snuffle mats that have additional plastic or fabric intelligence games sewn onto them that require paw use.
You want to use a sniffer carpet to deliberately simulate a calm search and not just offer another interactive puzzle toy.
Especially since most dogs also show that they don’t want to leave the “search mode” and therefore always search these hiding places last.
And slightly coarser dogs will be tempted by the thin fabric barrier to shred their way to the biscuits instead of using their brains.
How big should the snuffle carpet be for which dog?
Even a small sniffing carpet can be great fun for dogs.
The larger the sniffing carpet, the longer the dog is busy searching the area and the more it has to move.
- I find small round or square sniffing mats with a diameter of 25-30 cm or an edge length of 25-30 cm perfectly adequate as stationary lying toys for dwarf dogs and bedridden dogs.
- For mobile small and medium-sized dogs, the sniffing carpet can have an edge length of 40 cm.
- For dogs from 15-20 kg it can also be bigger. I find a size of 60×40 cm perfectly adequate even for large dogs. You want to be able to stow the thing away or put it in the washing machine.
By the way, if I leave the sniffing carpets out in the open, they are also often used as a place to sleep.
If you want the snuffle mat to get bigger, I recommend making the snuffle mat yourself. Because large sniffing carpets in the trade quickly become absurdly expensive.
Cleaning a dog snuffle mat
Overall, snuffle mats are quite durable and easy to care for.
Before using it for the first time, you should clean the sniffer carpet once:
Fleece is a synthetic fiber that leaves a lot of small fluff when cut into strips.
These should not end up in the dog’s nose, which is why you should wash a new snuffle mat thoroughly before you leave it with the dog.
These fringes also come loose from the carpet in the tumble dryer.
For tumble drying and machine washing, keep in mind that fleece doesn’t like heat and friction. Improper care leads to “pilling” and excessive heat can even melt fleece. For this reason, fleece should only be machine cleaned and dried in cold gentle programs.
Especially since the individual fleece strips can also come loose from the carpet during spin programs.
If you want to clean the carpet thoroughly by hand, you can rinse it out well with the shower and let it air dry.
After eating, you should beat the snuffle mat outside. This prevents small, unreachable leftovers from being forgotten down on the sniffing carpet.
This is especially advisable for dogs that make a little mess while eating. In other words, dogs drool a lot and all sorts of crumbs fall out of their faces when chewing.
Occasional vacuuming will also help keep lint and cookie dust at bay.
Occasionally one finds sniffing carpets made of felt in the trade.
These should only be cleaned very carefully by machine, lukewarm and without soap, otherwise, they tend to deform. Hand washing is recommended here if the provider does not provide washing instructions.
Detergents and fabric softeners should generally be avoided. When washing by hand, local dirt can be brushed out with a very mild detergent and rinsed well.
If in doubt, you can also simply cut off individual strips of fabric in the case of heavy soiling, which is usually not noticeable.
A sniffing carpet is a species-appropriate activity. Not more.
Certainly, an underutilized dog is happy about employment. And a busy dog is a highly trainable dog. However, snuffle mats do not heal behavioral problems.
Snuffle mats serve the needs of our dog, but they “do not promote the hunting instinct”, as some manufacturers have put it somewhat unhappily and misleadingly.
Here are a few other corrections about false promises related to the snuffle mat :
Some suppliers advertise that a sniffing carpet would “train the sense of smell”: That’s quark, of course! The dog’s sense of smell is already sensitive enough without fine-tuning.
Apart from that, the dog gets just as little a finer nose from looking for biscuits as I get sharper eyes from staring at the cake.
Many more providers advertise that a snuffle mat would help dogs to distract them from fearful situations or would even be suitable for the therapy of fearful dogs.
While researching, I seriously read the claim several times that you could simply give the dog a sniffing rug on New Year’s Eve to distract it from its fear.
This is of course absolute nonsense. Anyone who writes something like this has either never owned a dog or has never been afraid themselves.
Because one thing you definitely don’t care about in the Fear, Escape, and Avoid modes is, of course, food.
The concentration of sports and action dogs should also increase through the concentration exercises on the sniffing carpet. That would be great, but of course, it’s also nonsense.
The ability to concentrate is also a finite asset for dogs, which can only be stretched so and so far through training.
However, I put up with the fact that many nervous dogs lack focus on one thing, especially in the trained Wisp mode. A snuffle mat can have a relaxing effect here because it makes it easier for these dogs to spend a few minutes quiet and focused.
Sniffing carpets offer the dog a needs-based activity.
Various sizes and shapes allow use on almost any occasion:
- Employment during sick leave
- anti-sling mat
- Brain teaser for dog seniors
- Nose game for in between
- Against boredom on rainy days
All in all, snuffle mats are an ingeniously simple invention that actually brings a lot of joy to every dog.
Every dog should have a snuffle mat!
A snuffle mat is not worth very expensive money. Then do it yourself!