The summer months can lead to fun days in the sun and lots of adventures for our pets, but there are also days when it is just too hot for our pets to be outdoors. Often, they won’t be able to burn off enough energy on these warm days which can lead excessive zoomies, rougher playstyles, or even destructive behaviour from boredom. So, what is there to do? Enrichment toys!
Enrichment or puzzle toys are a great way to give your pet something fun to do inside. They are activities that keep them thinking and entertained, allowing them to burn energy and prevent them from finding other things to do (like chewing inappropriately). Most enrichment or puzzle toys do use food to motivate the pet to figure out the puzzle. You can use small pieces of your pet’s favourite treat or just the kibble from their meals.
There are a variety of toys or games that can be purchased for every type of pet, but there are also a lot of homemade options. Pictured here is a homemade snuffle mat made from a draining rubber mat and fleece fabric. The large draining rubber mat can be purchased at a hardware store or Canadian Tire and is cut into 6 squares to make 6 mats. If you are only looking to make one mat, a rubber sink draining mat is an alternative material but tend not to be as sturdy. Any mat that has evenly space holes will work for this toy. Smaller cat versions can even be made from a piece of cardboard where you have cut holes to thread the fabric through.
Once you have your mat, you will need the fabric. At the shelter we use fleece that is purchased from the discount section at a fabric store as our pets do not mind the patterns or mixture or colours. You can even recycle an old blanket or sweater that you do not use anymore. The fabric is cut into 6–8-inch strips that are 1-1.5 inches wide. The ends of each strip are threaded into two holes right next to each other and tied in a knot to secure the fabric to the mat. Make sure to leave all the ends on the same side of the mat. Fill in the entire mat making sure to make ties in every direction to fill it up.
Once your mat is done, place the treats or kibbles in between the fabric ends so that your pet must sniff their way through the mat to find them! These toys are a great way to keep your pet entertained and, as it takes them time to find the food, they are a great option for pets that tend to eat too fast. After your pet has finished their game, make sure to pick up the mat and put away for another time.