This is the Hellbeast.
She is, as far as we know, an Akita Inu x Border Collie. (We got her from the RSPCA when she was 4 months old). She has a full dose of Akita* attitude and Border Collie brains, so we’re always looking for ways to keep her occupied.
Snuffle mats are excellent for nose work and mental stimulation for all dogs. The mat is basically a very dense, long-tufted, fleece rag rug, and you sprinkle it with treats or food that your doggo then has to sniff out. You can buy them, but they’re pretty easy to make. Here’s a short, clear, video tutorial:
I’ve been meaning to make one for the Hellbeast for ages, so this weekend I rounded up all the scrap fleece in the house:
- one old pair of red polka dot pyjama bottoms
- two old red Ikea blankets used for the Hellbeast, with big rips where she plays tug with them
- plain yellow and black left over from bee LARPing costumes
- part of a forest green blanket that joined our fabric stash from somebody else’s costume-making supplies
- small bits of flower print fleece I bought ages ago because it was cheerful, and cut some of the flowers out for prototype yarn bags that didn’t work out.
If you watch the video, you will notice that the maker very sensibly chose a small square of anti-fatigue mat. I, on the other hand, was late-night shopping on amazon, picked a cheapo doormat, and was like, yeah, that’ll do. It’s 40 cm x 60cm, and I ended up needing around 300 fleece strips. Of course, there’s nothing to stop you cutting the mat down (other than sheer stubborness). Also, this doormat has staggered holes; not a problem, you just need to tweak what you do at the edges.
Bargain fleece is to be had at ebay (the crafter’s best friend), but if you’re not fussed about colour the Ikea POLARVIDE blankets give you 1.3 x 1.7m for £3.
It’s not very pretty, but the Hellbeast won’t care. In my mind it’s a dog toy, not a piece of home décor, and I didn’t buy any new fabric, so I’m calling that a win! We’ll see what the Hellbeast herself makes of it tomorrow.
*Human slaves of Akitas and other primitive breeds, head to the Couch Wolves website and Facebook group for lots of advice on positive training methods.
3 thoughts on “The Hellbeast’s Snufflemat”
A Collie Akita x… holy tits that’s some combination!
My youngest BC has a thing for making his own sort of snuffle mat by means of wrapping up stuffed toys and teddies inside a thin sheet or pillow case and then using his teeth to get hold of the stuffed ear or nose then slowly mouth, nibble, paw and pull it through the sheet. Found one Fleet made earlier this morning actually. Picked up the dog sheets and bedding to wash and spent a bit trying to pick off what I thought was a bit of fluff stuck to a thin sheet before realising it wasn’t stuck on – it was stuck IN. Poor stuffed cat’s ear had been ragged through the sheet and was there “Arghh… stuck help!”
It’s not something I encourage or allow too much or too often though particularly not with dogs like Fleet that are already prone to being a bit destructive. He came to us as an older puppy of 9-months having never had toys, been inside a house or had bedding so for the first few months he did little else but mouth, chew and eat everything to the point I was starting to worry it was a behavioural issue we might need extra help to tackle. We’re by no means novice owners or new to BC’s with issues but his obsession with chewing, eating and panic gulping stuff that could kill him was a real worry for a while. Church pillar candles, wooden ornaments, flowers and plants, egg shells, stones and slate, gravel and sand from the riding arena. He even tried chewing through some hay nets he found in the stables a couple of times.
Anyway that’s a memory that popped up and ran with me but what I meant to just say was simple, everyday stuff you find lying around the house or can buy super cheap are equally good if not even better ways to keep dogs like yours busy and their noses on the go.
If you have plenty of outdoor space, investing in a bale of hay / straw is a great place to hide tennis balls, treats or toys and it also helps them work on focusing on the task in hand amid outdoor sounds and smells.
I picked up a packet of little plastic eggs from the pound shop last week – like Kinder eggs but much cheaper at £1 for 12 of them. Put a small training treat inside a few then threw all of them out on the living room floor and let Fleet go hunting for which ones he could smell a treat inside and then work out how to open and get his reward.
Can do a lot of entertainment and incorporate some serious training courtesy of stuff you find in bargain discount stores and pound shops 😀
Great tips, thank you! We also use lots of cardboard and paper packaging and recycling to play “find the food” games. I get the feeling that BCs get bored quickly and need a fair bit of mental exercise to stop them chewing things out of boredom. As a puppy the Hellbeast chomped on me, my clothes, the TV unit, the boot box, the bannisters… I still have to work quite hard to persuade her to leave the kindling alone. Now she gets cow ears, carrots, stuffed Kongs, and when we want to let her really exercise her gnashers, she gest raw play bones to gnaw on.
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