Need the perfect handmade gift for your pet this Valentine’s Day? Say “I ruff you” with a Fleece snuffle mat great for dog (or cat!) enrichment and treat hunting. Snuffle mats, a giggle-worthy name, give our furry friends a hefty mental workout as they navigate their noses through flaps of fabric searching for snacks. (Note: As of March 2023, we are phasing out our Fleece fabric and launching Polartec® Fleece, which will also work great for this project!)

Join Anna from Spoonflower to learn the easy steps towards an assortment of no-sew snuffle mats using your favorite fabric designs. Got any scraps left over from other projects? You can use those here too!

Snuffle mats from Spoonflower Blog team members Betsy and Anna! Featuring Sadie (left) with a large-sized mat and Rufus (right) with a small size.

DIY Snuffle Mat for Your Pet

Materials You Need

  • 2 yards of Fleece fabric
  • Fabric scissors/rotary cutter
  • Measuring tape/ruler 
  • Fabric marker, chalk or other marking tool of choice 
Disclaimer: While our Fleece fabric is soft and fun for pets to play with, that does NOT mean it’s safe to eat. If you see your pet swallowing parts of the snuffle mat, remove it immediately. Ensuring that all pieces are snugly tied will reduce the likelihood of this happening. These mats are great to keep your pets occupied, but be sure keep an eye on them!

Steps

1. Cut the Fabric

Cut a piece of fleece that will be the base of your snuffle mat. A square is a great shape to start with, but you can also try experimenting with circles, triangles or even hearts! The size of this base piece will determine how large your final snuffle mat will be as it sits on the floor. We recommend these sizes when making one for your pet:

    – Small: 12″ x 12″ (30.5 x 30.5 cm), good for cats and small breeds
    – Medium: 15″ x 15″ (38 x 38 cm), a happy medium for any snuffly friend
    – Large: 18″ x 18″ (45.7 x 45.7 cm), good for heavy sniffers
 
I’m making a snuffle mat for my roommate’s dog, Rufus—he’s a small boy at 11 pounds who will need a small size. Betsy’s dog, Sadie, who’s 44 pounds, got a large size and is enthusiastic about treat hunting.

Note: Since you’ll be tying the fleece pieces tight or knotting them, thus slightly decreasing the size of the mat as you go, the final size may be slightly smaller than the original base. For example, Betsy made the 18″x18″ mat for Sadie, which ended up more like 17″x17″ when complete.

One single-cut layer of fleece is a great and easy base for this mat, but if you want some extra support in case your pet plays rough with their toys, you can sew two square pieces right sides together and flip inside out for a clean finish. This is what I did for Rufus’s Valentine-themed mat, but later I realized Rufus is one of the chillest dogs I know and probably didn’t need it.

2. Mark and Cut the Holes

Using chalk or another fabric marker of your choice, start from one corner and draw a bunch of 1/2″-3/4″ (1.27-1.9 cm) wide lines all throughout one side of the mat (see picture below). The spacing of these lines will determine how fluffy your final mat will be. I placed mine about an inch apart.

Take your scissors and cut small slits into the fabric, using the marks from before as a guide. Organize the cuts into even rows and columns so everything looks neat. I cut diagonal slits into mine, but yours can be vertical or horizontal too.

The width of your cuts will also determine the width of the strips of fabric that your furry friend will be snuffling treats through. I decided on 1/2″ (1.27 cm) cuts for my base and plan to at least double the width for the strips.

Note: When cutting, you’ll want to leave at least 1/2″- 1” (1.27-2.5 cm) of room from the edge to tie off the border (step 4).

3. Cut the Strips

Now that you have the base all prepped and ready to go, it’s time to cut out what I’m calling “fleece spaghetti.” Cut long strips from your remaining fleece, remembering to make them at least twice as wide as the cuts you made in the previous step (thus my strips will be 1-1.5” or 2.5-3.8 cm wide). Since each snuffle mat will use a different number of strips depending on size, spacing between the cuts, etc., I recommend cutting enough strips for a sizable pile to form and then repeating when you need more, rather than cutting ALL your fleece.

After your fleece spaghetti has been prepped, cut these long strips into shorter strips that you will tie into the holes in the base piece in the next step. The length of these final strips are up to you, as are a lot of aspects of this tutorial! I made mine roughly 5-6″ (12.7-15.2 cm) long, interchanging the size between that range ever so slightly for variety.

4. Tie the Edges

Similar to how you would make a no-sew blanket, we’re going to start with tying off the edges of the mat. Starting from one corner, feed a strip of fabric through one of the holes along the edge and tie it in a knot. Double knot it to officially hold it in place. Continue all around the outer edge of the base until you have a big fluffy border.

5. Tie the Rest

Continue tying and weaving through strips of fleece into the base piece until you see no more small holes. I started from the corner and worked my way left to right until it all looked fluffy enough for my liking. Looking for some extra fluff/density? Simply tie more fleece pieces around each other throughout the mat where needed.

Here’s the underside of the finished snuffle mat that shows the tying pattern. You can see it’s consistent in some spots but not so much in others—it truly doesn’t matter in the end when all the pieces are tied.

Choose your pet’s fave snacks that are small enough in size and hide them throughout the mat. Kick up your feet and enjoy some free time while they go on a snuffle safari. 

Featured designs: Retro Flowers Orange Pink by sandra_hutter_designs and Black and White Dogs by littleislandcompany
For Sadie’s snuffle mat, Betsy used 1/4″ (.64 cm) cuts in the base and tied together 6″ (15.2 cm) strips that were 1/2″ (1.27 cm) wide.

Looking for more pet projects?

We got you covered! From bandanas to leashes to bed covers, continue reading the Spoonflower Blog for more tail-wagging tutorials.
Pet DIYs

FAQ

What types of fabric are best for snuffle mats?
We recommend using Fleece, but any fabric that doesn’t fray will work! You don’t want your pet to swallow loose threads.
How do I wash a snuffle mat?
Wash on its own in cool water using a gentle machine cycle. Machine dry using a low temperature setting and remove promptly.
How much does fleece cost?
Our fleece is currently $29 USD per yard. Keep an eye out for fabric sales—we have them often!