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Have you heard of snuffle mats? I hadn’t until recently, when Wesley started his obedience class. It’s a mat that has strips of fabric coming out of it, like a long shag rug. You toss treats into it, and the idea is that your dog has to root around in it to get them all out. It’s a great way to keep your dog’s brain engaged while giving him treats, or to slow down a fast eater.
After using one with Wes at his school, I was thinking that it might be a really good tool for my parents’ dogs. As puppy mill rescues, they never completely learned how to act like dogs, but both are smart little things who could use some stimulation. Since there’s a very low barrier to entry on these (they’re literally just following their noses), it seemed like an excellent idea.
I could have easily bought a mat, but since I’m a crafty person, I decided to try my hand at making it. As it happened, I had a ton of Lion Brand Fast-Track on hand, some left over from a sweater I made, and some taken from the office to try it out when I worked there. Since it’s a stiffer, tape/ribbon yarn and is easy to clean, it seemed like the best choice for the project.
I had four different colors in my stash, but you could very easily make this with a single skein of the stuff. All you have to do is make a mat base and tie in about a million little strips of yarn. The last part can get tedious but it’s a very easy project, and is totally beginner-friendly. I opted for crochet, but I’ll include instructions on how to make a knit version as well.
DIY Snuffle Mat
Lion Brand Fast-Track, 1 skein
Work a 10 stitch sc foundation OR ch 11, turn, skip first stitch, sc into second stitch and across the row.
Work sc across for 18 rows or until piece is desired length.
CO 20 stitches using long-tail cast-on
Knit in garter stitch for 24 rows or until piece is desired length.
Cut roughly 100 8-inch strips of yarn. You can always cut more if needed later.
Using fingers or crochet hook, pull yarn through openings between stitches and around edge of mat, and tie tightly in a double knot. You may also want to tie a knot at each end of your strips to prevent the yarn from unraveling as your dog uses the mat.
Repeat until there are strips tied in each opening and around the border.
Put it on the floor, toss in some treats, and watch your best friend have a good time!
*Note: for safety, don’t let your dog use this mat unsupervised*