I give my dogs LickiMats to slow them down while eating and keep them busy — they've been a lifesaver while I work from home
I live with two very busy dogs, both Cocker Spaniels.. When Poppy and Penny get up in the morning, they are ready to go. Given the opportunity, they would inhale their breakfast and head straight outside.
One way I've slowed them down during mealtime is with stuffed Kongs, but they still finished those in minutes even if they're frozen. So six months ago I decided to incorporate Hyper-Pet’s LickiMats into both of my dogs' routines.
I knew the mats could extend mealtime, and because Poppy & Penny also like to lick — both people and our cat — it seemed like a good enrichment tool to redirect yet support this behavior. The sensation of licking can help calm some dogs. According to professional dog trainer Victoria Stilwell, licking is a form of affection. "Licking releases pleasurable endorphins which give dogs a feeling of comfort and pleasure — like the feeling people get when they are biting their nails — it relieves stress," she explained on the website for her TV show "It's Me or the Dog."
Which LickiMat is best for your dog?
There are actually a few different types of LickiMats, with the most popular of them being the Buddy and the Soother. Each 7.8-inch-square mat has a raised pattern that's designed to stimulate saliva production and scrape off bacteria from your dog's tongue. The Soother is more shallow with raised bumps, while the Buddy is designed like a maze to give dogs a bit of a challenge while they eat.
Since Poppy & Penny have such an affinity for licking, I got the Soother mat. At breakfast, I spread my dogs' canned food across a third of each mat. It takes them approximately 15 minutes to finish licking all the canned food off.
I use the mats to give them an afternoon snack after their second walk. Since I work from home, they've also proven a convenient way to redirect my dogs' attention when I need to work without disruptions.
This tool is particularly soothing and calming for Penny. After she's done with her Lickimat, she returns to her spot on the couch. Many times, she sits and "requests" we add more food and licks every possible corner.
How to prepare and clean the mat
Aside from spreading wet dog food across the mat, any type of binding food will work, including bananas and pumpkin puree. Using food with a very sticky texture does make a difference, so you may need to experiment a bit.
The Lickimat can be frozen for even longer enjoyment, and this is one of its best features. If you plan to freeze it, you'll need to choose an appropriate food texture. Pumpkin doesn't freeze that well, but low-sodium chicken broth is a wonderful choice.
After use, it can be tossed into the dishwasher. I wash our two mats every evening with the dogs' food bowls. The mats look as good as new even after over 100 dishwashing cycles.
Experts recommend cutting the mat to the size of a pan and placing it within that so your dog cannot carry it around and chew on it. Poppy for example only begins to chew it after she's completely finished licking the food from it. For this reason, you should supervise your dog when you give them one of these.
The bottom line
You may think you have too many puzzle toys and interactive food products to keep your dog busy. But consider adding the Lickimat to your tool kit. I use ours throughout the day, and if you work remotely, you won't regret this budget-friendly purchase. Using this mat during conference calls has been a lifesaver for me.
Pros: Lasts much longer than a stuffed Kong, doesn't frustrate our dogs as some puzzle toys do
Cons: Dogs may chew on it, certain foods work better than others
Get your Lickimat at www.harveyspetstore.com
Get free UK delivery when you spend £45, and we also offer CLEARPAY interest free payment options.
John Hollinrake, Harvey's Petstore