When I woke on Christmas morning one of my first thoughts was “I wonder if the pups will enjoy their snuffle mats?” That wasn’t my absolute first thought of the day however; the first one was “I wish Biggles would hurry up and jump into bed so I don’t have to keep holding the duvet open for him”(he often gives me the paw to say he’s ready, then mucks about scratching and rolling on the carpet) and the second one was “I wish Beanie wasn’t trying to ram her front paws up my bum”, but the snuffle-mat question was definitely third in the queue.
I didn’t get an answer until we’d returned from our morning beach run, and it was during the run that Biggles found out what it’s like to actually be a snuffle-mat himself. About 20 minutes in we encountered a stocky and wholly intact Beagle boy, and a round of bottom sniffing ensued. I think this other Beagle must have been a bit hard-of-smelling, because he wasn’t content to sniff from the usual distance; he stuck his snout right in there and then proceeded underneath towards the undercarriage area. So intense was the snuffling that Biggles’ rear legs got lifted clean off the ground, and yet despite all that effort the other boy came away without getting any treats. I’m happy to report that the snuffling which occurred later at home was much more productive!
There was some initial confusion over which package belonged to which Beagle
But once they had a mat each, the snuffling got properly under way
Beanie hunted down the treats hidden in her mat very quickly
But Biggles was no slouch either!
Some dogs need to be taught not to cheat by shaking the mat or overturning it to release the treats, but our two just stuck their noses in there and got to work in a thoroughly orthodox fashion. Perhaps snuffling comes more naturally for Beagles, but certainly the mats kept Beanie & Biggles thoroughly engrossed until the treats ran out. I shot a little video of them in action – it’s not exactly riveting viewing for spectators, but I think it’s very satisfying and rewarding for the participants. I’m aiming to make a habit of holding back some of the kibble from their regular meals and delivering it via the mats instead of their bowls.
(The whining in the second part is Biggles complaining that he’s not getting to empty Beanie’s mat as well as his own)
It goes without saying that we got them regular toys as presents too. Beanie has gone through several “skinneez” stuffing-free toys recently, so I got her an extra tough fox with puncture-proof squeakers, and Biggles received a floppy, squeaky Santa. Both these toys were completely ignored while the mats were out, but the next day Beanie discovered the new fox and the first of (hopefully) many robust tugging sessions followed.
Initially Biggles seemed throughly disinterested in his Santa. I demonstrated its squeakers in front of him and his eyes lit up, but he didn’t engage in any play with me, so I just left it on the sofa next to him and went about my business. Sometime later in the day while I was busy on the computer, I heard the sound of joyful squeaking coming from the end of the corridor by our bedroom. I went to investigate and sure enough there was Biggles with his Santa, but he froze as soon as he realized he was being watched. I backed away behind the corner, and the squeaks resumed, stopping again when I stuck my head back round for a peek. We repeated this game of hide-and-squeak a few times before I returned to my seat with a grin on my face; when Biggles wants to play with something in secret, it’s pretty good sign that he likes it!
Christmas is now behind us and the New Year is very close. The woofers will be joining us with a toast to the new year courtesy of Bottom Sniffer ale and small bottle of Pawsecco. I’ve got my fingers crossed there won’t be too much firework activity; it’d be a shame if the Beanster had to start 2018 tightly wrapped in her Thundershirt.