Snuffle Mats, Snuffle Balls, and Snuffle Bins. Almost any object with holes cut into it or manufactured into it can become a Snuffle Item for dogs and cats… and maybe other critters, too. Allow me to explain.

A snuffle mat is a flat backing with holes in it that people tie (double knot) strips of polar-fleece (fleece) onto, and it becomes a food puzzle for their pet, usually a dog or cat. 

-The first is to take a Holee Roller ball (the ones with the hexagonal open areas, that no one really knows what to do with, and they usually just sit in the dog’s toy box,) and tie fleece strips to it (leaving 3 to 4 of the larger holes open so treats can be put in and fall out.)

-The second kind is one that you make solely out of long pieces of fleece, cut strips from the edge towards the middle on both sides, the roll up the long pieces (lengthwise,) and tie the roll in the middle, then fluff out the fleece strips to make a ball. These you can really hide the treats down in, and are great for longer treats.

A snuffle box is a box that people tie strips of fleece into so they face the interior of the bin. This is a real challenge for some dogs to stick their face in past the fleece strips and find the treats.

 

Making your own snuffle items:

I would start with a snuffle mat for both the human and animal’s sake. The snuffle mat is the easiest to make. A lot of the tutorials online use either a plastic or rubber mat as the backing. I don’t like this one bit, as they are difficult or impossible to wash in the washing machine. I came up with using a towel for the backing. I simply cut small holes in the towel, and am able to feed the fleece through as easily as if I were working with a plastic or rubber backing.

I like using about 1 to 1.5 inch by 10 in polar fleece strips for the snuffle mats. I’m not really too terribly precise with cutting these strips. When they vary a little bit, it gives a little bit different feeling to the pets when they dig into the snuffle mat. I wouldn’t go any wider than 2 inches. I prefer to not go that wide. Also, don’t go any smaller than 1 inch, you won’t get good coverage.

Do NOT use t-shirt or other fabric for snuffle mats. I tried several different materials and found that none of them help up or held nearly as well as the polar-fleece did, especially for washing.

Here is my YouTube video for cutting the towel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BLgcZagBbsg&t=21s

Here is my YouTube video for making the snuffle mat with the towel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1BQHuv1LERE&t=7s

Here is my YouTube video of my dogs using their snuffle mats: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70701SO1_6k

 

I would then recommend making and introducing snuffle balls next. They are just as easy to make as snuffle mats, and my dogs love them! One likes to shake hers, and the other like to roll hers.

I make the fleece strips 1 by 8 inches for snuffle balls, with large Holee Roller balls. I make them smaller and slightly thinner for the smaller balls. If the fleece strips are too long, the treats have a very difficult time making their way out of the snuffle balls and onto the floor. The first one I made I had to cut the strips down once I had them all tied to the ball. The dogs were not impressed with it until I cut the strips down, then they could get the treats and had a blast.

There’s not a YouTube video on making the Holee-Roller snuffle balls.

Here’s a YouTube video of what the ball looks like when it’s completed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mrgtgXZK6Wc

This video is from Donna Ewing.

YouTube video for making one of the polar-fleece only snuffle balls: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vN9p5GIvWw&t=5s

This video is from My Furry Family, and she does a great job of instructing how to make this style snuffle ball.

 

Once the pets (and you, the human) have the hang of making and using the snuffle mat and snuffle ball, then you can start getting creative and a little more challenging, and make a snuffle bin. I used a cheap plastic bin I got at the dollar store (it cost a dollar) and I tied a bunch of 1 by 10 inch strips of polar-fleece inside the bin. This was the more difficult one to make, as the space inside the bin got smaller, the more pieces of fleece I tied. It’s not impossible to do, just a bit of a pain in the wrist.  

Snuffle bins can also be used for scent work training, as well as giving treats or meals.

There is not a video on making a snuffle bin.

 

Other uses:

At this point, anything that has holes cut or manufactured into it can be made into a snuffle item for your pet.

There are more uses for a snuffle mat that just that of giving enrichment to a pet.

We use our large snuffle mats as a soft, fluffy barricade so our cat doesn’t escape from out the bottom of the screen door. There’s a gap between the door and the frame (strangely) and I put them down to fill it, just so she doesn’t get any ideas. She’s never escaped, or tried to get outside, but she is a mighty huntress and may try to follow something through the opening. Better safe than sorry for our indoor kitty.

We have friends who have an autistic child, they use the one I made them for texture therapy.

One friend uses hers a her teenage daughter’s bath mat. Okay, in all honesty, the daughter absconded with it.

We have other friends whose older dogs use it as a cushy dog bed, and another who friend whose dog thinks it’s the best shake it around toy ever. He doesn’t like it when they try to stick treats in it. He shakes it out, then takes it into his crate so the humans can’t do that again.

Our cat will also rub and roll around on hers when we put catnip on it. She gets all nipped up, then takes a nap on it.

 

Washing and drying snuffle items:

With our dogs snuffle mats, once they have eaten their meal or treats out of them, I pick them up and throw them in the washing machine. Since they are fleece and towels, I can also toss them in the clothes dryer. I don’t want them destroying them, or trying to nibble on them because they smell like food, so I pick them up when the dogs are done eating.

I’ll also wash the Holee-Roller snuffle ball in the washing machine on cold, but will air dry it. The polar-fleece only snuffle ball, can be untied and washed and dried, then rolled back up, and tied once fully dry.

I have a front loading washing machine, so I’ll be able to wash the snuffle bin on cold, too. I will let it air dry.