When your chow hound can inhale a meal faster than it took you to dish it out, you know you need to slow things down. Slow feeder bowls are the most well-known way to do this, but eager eaters still manage to gulp their food. Eating too fast is a dangerous habit that can cause anything from vomiting to life-threatening bloat. You need to find a way to slow down your dog, but that doesn’t mean spending hundreds of dollars on a rotating lineup of slow feeder bowls. For dogs that eat too fast, there’s something new in the pet world that can help. Snuffle mats are designed to be an interesting way to prolong meal times, and as an added bonus, dogs think they’re great fun.
What is a Snuffle Mat?
It looks like a shag carpet, but a snuffle mat is more than a groovy piece of home decor. It’s designed to mimic the way your dog’s ancestors foraged in long grass to find food. Your pampered pup doesn’t need to worry about foraging for their next meal, but it’s still part of their natural instinct. All you have to do is sprinkle your dog’s regular dry food onto the snuffle mat, and the individual pieces of kibble will fall into the cracks and crevices. Your dog won’t be able to see their food, but they’ll use their sensitive sniffer to smell what’s for dinner. They sniff and snuffle their way through the fabric to pick out their meal. It slows them down, and it’s also a valuable lesson in Nose Work.
The Advantages of Nose Work
Like agility training and flyball, Nose Work is a canine sport with professional competitions and official training. It’s an offshoot of the same training used to prepare professional scent detection dogs. Instead of sniffing drugs and firearms, however, Nose Work dogs are trained to search for target odors including birth, clove, and anise.
Nose Work is all about fostering a dog’s natural instinct to hunt. It’s an outlet where they’re free to stimulate their mind in the most natural way. Official trials include searches in four locations: interiors, exteriors, containers, and vehicles. Dogs are judged based on how accurate and how quickly they identify the target odors. Bloodhounds and Labs are known for excelling in the sport, but any dog with a nose can join in on the fun.
There are plenty of dogs that take their sniffing skills to the big leagues, but Nose Work is also enjoyed in a casual setting. The basis of the sport is all about stimulating the mind through scents. Even without essential oil of birch, your dog can learn the basics of Nose Work with nothing more than a handful of kibble and a snuffle mat.
Benefits of Snuffle Mats
A few minutes with a snuffle mat will provide your pup with the same sensory experience and excitement as their daily walk. Dogs love to stop and sniff every tree, road sign, and average-looking patch of grass. Stopping every few feet isn’t your idea of an ideal dog walk, but for your dog, the chance to explore the world through scent is vitally important. With a snuffle mat, they’re motivated to use their brain and their nose in a whole new way. It keeps their mind sharp, their body busy, and most dogs think snuffling for food is a fun game.
While your pup is busy on their scavenger hunt, there will be no chance of them gulping their food. Each piece of kibble is a prize worth working for. You can serve your pup’s entire meal on their snuffle mat. What used to take them 30 seconds could last up to 20 minutes depending on their size and snuffling skills. They’ll have time to thoroughly chew each bite, and you won’t worry about unhealthy eating habits.
More and more pup parents are falling in love with snuffle mats. They’re good for the brain as well as the belly, and there’s something about a snuffling dog that’s utterly adorable. The Sniff Doggy – Nose Work Mat from iHeartdogs is specifically designed to serve as both a Nose Work training tool and a slow feeder. The strips of fabric perfectly conceal hidden treasure that your dog will be enthusiastic about sniffing out. Get yours today to see how your pup enjoys this new take on dinner time.
Featured image via Nurtured Paws Dog Walking and Pet Care