Enrichment mats are known by lots of different names (sniffle mat, snuffle mat, sniff mat) and all have slightly different forms but they have the same principle: your dog uses its nose to sniff out treats hidden in the mat. We use Bobby's one every day to feed him his lunchtime kibble as it slows him right down. They are great for sighted dogs but I highly recommend them for blind dogs too.
I made Bobby’s one about 18 months ago and then another one for a dog in foster, and luckily I took some photos during the process so I thought I’d share with you how I did it. I apologise in advance that these aren’t precise instructions, the amount of fabric you need depends on how long and how wide you cut the strips!
What I used:
One rubber doormat - I used this one (https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B005NG6SMU/) but cut it in half using a stanley knife to make it the right size for Bobby.
You can use a plastic or rubber sink mat but I used a doormat as it is heavier and non slip so doesn’t move around.
Two fleece blankets - I used one grey and one red blanket from Ikea (https://www.ikea.com/gb/en/products/textiles-rugs/blankets-throws/polarvide-throw-grey-art-50296990/) but you can use any fleece material as long as it is not too thick
Note: I had fleece left over from making Bobby’s mat but not enough to complete the second half of the mat so if you plan to do a full size mat I’d allow three blankets.
A pair of scissors
Cut the door mat to the size you need
Cut your fleece fabric into strips using scissors. I wasn’t very precise about the size of the strips I cut, they were approximately 3-4cm (1-1.5 inches) wide and approximately 20cm (8 inches) long. I think a mix of slightly different lengths and widths work well as it makes it more interesting for the dog.
Tie your strips onto your mat. This takes a while (it took me about 2 hours) so I’d recommend doing it in front of the TV or listening to a good podcast/audio book!
I tied the strips using a single overhand knot like you would start to tie your shoelaces with. Start with a horizontal row along the edge of the mat and make sure you pull the knots tight:
Continue until you have completed the row:
Next tie a row of strips diagonally between the row you have just completed and the next row like this:
Then it's back to a horizontal row (like row 1):
Continue to tie until all the rows on the mat are covered.
Let your dog enjoy the mat! Scatter some kibble or dry treats onto the mat (tuck them underneath the tails of the knots to make them harder to find) and let your dog sniff them out.
Do not leave your dog unsupervised with the mat as they may start to chew it. inspect regularly for loose ties and replace if any damage occurs.
I wash Bobby's mat by hand in the sink and allow it to air dry.