This Snuffle Mat Is My Secret Hack to Exhausting a Hyper Puppy

Bringing our adorable little puppy home for the first time was an incredibly happy moment for me and my fiancé. His squishy face and squeaky sounds melted our hearts, and playing fetch around our apartment was more fun and entertaining than we thought it could be. But then it was time to do some work, or make dinner, or — heaven forbid — relax on the couch, and our puppy, Bean, just wasn’t having it. Instead of laying down calmly after a play session, he barked excessively and seemed anxious and unsure of what to do, which quickly rubbed off on us, too. 

Keeping up with a baby dog felt exhausting, especially before he had all of his shots and was too young to go on walks — that’s a lot of pent up energy! That’s where this Pet Snuffle Mat from Awoof came into play (literally). The dog puzzle toy was a gift from my future sister-in-law, and it’s been the best way to get Bean’s mind working and keep his energy level way down. 

“Snuffle mats are intended to create easy opportunities for your pet to use their brain via their nose,” pet behaviorist Haylee Bergeland, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA, RBT tells PEOPLE. “Dogs and cats particularly need opportunities that engage their senses, most importantly their nose, because they very literally see the world through their noses. Offering them an opportunity to sniff out goodies or even their meals is a great way to offer them mental stimulation.” 

Buy It! Awoof Pet Snuffle Mat, $16.59;

But what exactly is a snuffle mat? Essentially, it’s a bunch of felt strips attached to a base. Those pieces of fabric are sewn on in tight circles that expand in size outward, overlapping over each other as they go. “The name really just comes from the word ‘snuffle’ which is just to use the nose to make sniffing sounds,” Bergeland says. 

This pattern creates tons of hiding places for you to tuck kibble or treats into that your dog will have to sniff out to find and eat. When we first placed Bean’s snuffle mat, packed with clusters of food all throughout, he immediately went to town, driving his nose deep under the folds of felt until he found every single morsel. It took him about 20 minutes to complete, and when he was finally done, he was spent. 

“Snuffle mats don’t [directly] make pets tired, they provide pets mental stimulation,” Bergeland explains. “If that mental stimulation was really satisfying, it might make them more relaxed, which then might make them more likely to want a nap. Snuffle mats work their olfactory receptors which ignite in the brain because scent information is highly stimulating.”

The Awoof Pet Snuffle Mat does exactly what it claims. It was such a relief for us, and more obviously for Bean, to see him lay down and relax after finishing up with his mat. As the brand notes, “sniff training is beneficial to the physical and mental health of pets, and it plays a role in relieving stress and releasing excess energy.” 

To give your puppy an outlet for all of his energy — and to give yourself a break — shop the Awoof Pet Snuffle Mat at Amazon. 

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