At first glance, a snuffle mat looks like a rug. Made by tying strips of fleece onto a rubber safety mat, snuffle mats create layers of fabric that cascade across each other. Some showcase bright colors and intricate patterns, whereas other snuffle mats are very simple. No matter how they look, though, a snuffle mat is designed for one thing: to offer dogs a chance to use their nose and problem solve. These unique puzzle toys can be bought online or handmade. Making them is straight forward, although time intensive. Keep reading for instructions on making a snuffle mat at home! Once you have a snuffle mat, just sift kibble or treats down into the mountain of fleece and let your dog go to work! These puzzle toys offer plenty of fun and exercise at all times but are especially useful during super hot or cold days when walks may be limited. How to Make a Snuffle Mat First, gather your supplies. You're going to need an appropriate rubber safety mat, cutting utensils, and lots of anti-pill fleece. Home Depot has large anti-fatigue mats that can be easily cut to the right size. They come in 3ft by 3ft squares, with 9 sections per mat. Each section makes one snuffle mat. You'll need a utility knife for cutting the mat and scissors for cutting fleece. It's not a bad idea to put on a good movie or audiobook before beginning, since cutting the fleece is time-consuming and repetitive. You'll need 2 to 3 yards of fleece for each 12" by 12" snuffle mat. Walmart has inexpensive fleece and major art stores commonly run mega sales. Joann's Fabrics has an extensive online clearance section for fleece, so have fun picking! Once you have your fleece, cut it into strips. The longer the strips, the more challenging the mat. You don't need precision cutting, but each strip should be 1" to 1.5" wide and 8" to 10" long. Again, it doesn't need to be perfect! Cut all your fleece at once -- it's frustrating to have to start and stop to cut more. You can start in the middle or at the edge of your mat. It's usually easier to begin in the middle and work out, but whatever works for you is fine! Turn your rubber safety mat over to the back and poke both ends of a fleece strip through the mat. Tie a tight knot
When it comes to training a Service Dog, absolutely nothing is more important than exhaustive socialization. Socialization and exposure to the world is the foundation upon which all other training rests, and a Service Dog who hasn't gained real-world experience via systematic socialization is not fit for public access. With this list of oft-missed opportunities, you'll be able to ensure you're hitting all the bases while socializing Service Dogs in Training. Important Considerations Before Beginning Never, ever put a vest on a dog or claim it as a Service Dog in Training that is still displaying any behavior issues that would be eliminated during basic training — including leash pulling, inappropriate sniffing, etc. There are plenty of opportunities to socialize a dog in public at pet stores which allow animals, public parks and other areas which allow dogs. Remember, your behavior and that of your dog not only effects you but other Service Dog teams as well. Before bringing your Service Dog in Training (SDiT) home, you need to have a defined plan for socializing him. While many people decide to simply take the puppy with them and introduce him to everything and anything they can, utilizing that approach results in missed experiences and an uneven education. Unfortunately, more Service Dogs are released from training programs across the country for socialization concerns than any other reason. Protect your partnership by not only picking a puppy from a source that began socialization and stimulation at birth, but by also continuing socialization, exposure and training throughout your puppy's training. Use the attached checklist or prepare one of your own that includes everything your partner may encounter as both a puppy in training and as a working Service Dog adult. By keeping track of your Service Dog in Training's education, you'll better be able to spot and fill in holes before they become an issue. The most important rule of socializing Service Dogs in Training is to never, ever, ever, for any reason, force an SDiT to approach, interact with, touch or be on/near/with something that appears to frighten them. Forcing a puppy in training to engage when afraid ensures he'll never form positive associations with the object, person, place, surface, equipment or situation. Instead of forcing your SDiT, always keep high-value treats with you and use them to encourage a suspicious puppy to explore a situation of his own accord. If you lay a solid foundation of socialization
There has been a lot of talk about vaccinations lately. People are arguing whether or not they are necessary, questioning if they harm children and adults and what happens after you are vaccinated. It’s difficult because the facts are often treated as if they're up for debate. They are not. Vaccinations are overwhelmingly positive and extremely beneficial for our society. But how important is it to vaccinate your pet? Statistics are showing that not only are people refraining vaccinating themselves and their kids, they are choosing to keep their pets from being vaccinated as well. While it may be up to an individual whether or not they want to be vaccinated themselves, it is irresponsible when people don’t vaccinate their children and pets who cannot choose to make that decision for themselves. The Decline of Pet Vaccinations The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has labeled the anti-vaccination movement the top threat to global health. This may seem like an over-exaggeration, but it it’s really not. Modern medicine and the health of our society has depended upon vaccinations to mitigate diseases like measles and polio, and this is at risk when people avoid vaccinations. The decline of vaccinations doesn’t just concern humans — now some pet owners are choosing not to vaccinate their animals either. Healthy Paws Pet Insurance has reported that the number of pet vaccinations have gone down, and they worry that this threat will continue to affect animals. Even the American Veterinary Medical Association has made a statement saying that vaccines prevent millions of animal diseases and deaths every year. The annual report from the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals surveyed over 4,600 pet owners. The study found that about a quarter of dogs, or 2.2 million, were not vaccinated as puppies. The people said that the most common reason they did not vaccinate their dog was that it "isn’t necessary." This couldn’t be further from the truth. Vaccinations have already prevented the spread of disease and now that is being put at risk. It may be difficult to convince people to get vaccinations, but we can start by encouraging people to vaccinate their pets. Vaccines & Pet Insurance Many people avoid vaccinations because of the cost. If your pet is not insured, it can become very expensive according to MoneyPug, a site used to compare pet insurance. If you have pet insurance, you may be more inclined to visit the vet which
Although Service Dogs first emerged as a method of assisting those who were vision impaired, their roles have now expanded. In fact, many Service Dogs are now being trained to help those with an array of invisible disabilities from mental and psychiatric health struggles to seizures, epilepsy, autism, diabetes and more. Here are just 5 examples of Service Dogs for invisible disabilities.
When it comes to Emotional Support Animals, misconceptions and myths abound. People often believe Service Dogs and ESAs are the same things, with similar access rights. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Emotional Support Animals aren't Service Dogs, they don't have public access, and they don't require specialized training. Keep reading and dig into the nitty-gritty facts about ESAs. Emotional Support Dogs Don't Have Public Access Contrary to popular belief and pop culture, Emotional Support Animals don't possess public access rights. They do not belong in grocery stores, restaurants, or in places of public accommodation. This includes hospitals, doctors offices, pharmacies, and other medical environments. Nothing grants ESAs public access rights, not even a vest or an ID card, because, under U.S. federal law, ESAs do not have public access rights. Period. End of story. ESAs may accompany their handlers only in places where pets are allowed, with a couple of notable exceptions -- housing and air transport. ESAs Have Access to Housing and Air Transport (But Only With Proper Documentation) Two exceptions exist to the "no public access" rule for ESAs -- housing and air travel. With proper documentation, an ESA with the appropriate temperament and training may be allowed to accompany their handler during flights and in no-pets-allowed housing. Documentation standards can vary, but generally speaking, airlines require proof of the handler's need for the ESA, adherence to behavioral and training standards, proof of vaccinations, and advanced notification of intent to travel. For housing, most landlords require a letter from a person's doctor or psychiatrist, proof of vaccinations, and a signed statement of liability. ESA status does not exempt someone for being responsible for any damages caused by their ESA. ESAs Don't Require Specialized Training (Unless They Do) Unlike Service Animals, Emotional Support Animals don't (usually) require specialized training. If someone plans on traveling via air with their ESA, though, then their ESA must meet training and behavioral guidelines. They must be capable of working safely in public, which means no timidity, no fear, no aggression, no out of control behavior, and no excessive vocalizing. Emotional Support Animals Aren't Service Dogs Emotional Support Animals, including Emotional Support Dogs, are not Service Dogs. Let's say it again for the people in the back -- ESAs differ from Service Dogs. While ESAs add value to their handler's lives, legally, they have the same rights as pets, unlike Service Dogs. Service Dogs receive accommodation under America's disability