Did you know that dogs have up to 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses? We have about six million. The part devoted to analyzing smells in a dog’s brain is about 40 times greater than ours. Do you now understand why dogs love sniffing?
Dogs are attracted to new and interesting odors. But the beauty is you can use their love for sniffing as your dog training tool. How?
By implementing sniffing games and a sniffing mat in your training. Here is how.
What is a snuffle mat?
A dog snuffle mat is a toy that encourages your dog to sniff and search out hidden treats. That is the simplest and best definition.
Remember, dogs are social and active animals. They want to exercise every part of their body, and that includes their nose as well.
Made specifically to entice dogs into sniffing and foraging, sniffing mats are a great training tool. And you can either buy one online or make your own at home.
Today, we will talk more about how to make your own and use it for training. Most store-bought sniffing mats are created with fleece strips tied to a plastic base with holes in it. Those holes create space where you can easily hide some treats.
Why use a snuffle mat?
Now that we defined what is a sniffing mat, let’s talk about why you need one. As we mentioned before, dogs have much more olfactory receptors. Simple math says that a dog’s sense of smell is between 10,000 and 100,000 times more prominent than that of a human.
Dogs use their sense of smell to interpret the world around them. And using a best snuffle mat will put their love for sniffing to work and help you with training. Here are some benefits of using this enrichment activity:
- Provides mental stimulation
- Alleviate stress
- Encourage slower eating habits in a fast eater
- Helps to exercise your puppy during rainy days
- Initiate sniffing and foraging centers of the brain, bringing pleasure to your puppy
As you can see, you can think of a DIY snuffle mat as a great interactive toy for your puppy.
How to make your own sniffing mat?
I call this game find it in a blanket. You can use any blanket for this game, but it is better that you find one that you will not use for sleeping anymore.
Now, this DIY sniffing mat looks nothing like a regular sniffing mat. But the purpose is the same and the result is the same.
Your dog will hunt for dog treats and kibble, or even a toy if that is what motivates him. No matter which goodies you choose, just hide them in an old blanket, towel, or any fleece fabric.
Make sure there are no buttons in the blanket or something else your dog can swallow. Sprinkle dog treats or dry food in a towel. You can also scrunch the blanket a little bit, and let your dog investigate and find the dog food.
In the beginning, just scrunch the blanket. You need to motivate your dog to win in the beginning and make him happy to sniff. Now, as your dog is getting better in the game, you can fold the blanket and do all sorts of crazy things. Make the game more challenging and more fun for your pet. It is your responsibility as a dog owner and pet parent.
Always pay attention to your puppy. If your dog gives up, it means the game is a bit more challenging. Go back a step or two. Gradually increase the difficulty of the game. If your dog is looking at you for help, it is another sign the game is challenging. At this point, do not help your dog, but make the game easier.
How to use it for training?
How do you feed your dog? I’ve talked before about hand-feeding and the benefits it brings to your dog and improves your dog training.
A DIY snuffle mat is another great way to feed your dog dinner. Ditch the bowl and instead use a snuffle mat. It is a great way to keep your puppy engaged and excited about its meal.
Do you know that 15 minutes of sniffing uses as many calories as hours of a walk? It is mind blogging. Our dogs need as much physical exercise as they need mental stimulation. If you have an older dog, this interactive toy will provide the enrichment activity and exercise.
A sniffle mat is a great way to improve impulse control as well. Put the snuffle mat in front of your puppy, but do not allow him to eat for a few seconds. Gradually improve the time to a minute or two. Make your dog wait for the good things.