This column is dedicated to featuring a different budget-friendly canine enrichment idea to keep your dog mentally stimulated!

Is it rainy outside or too hot for a walk, but your dog has SO much energy? Is your dog anxious? What can you do? How can you help your pup channel that excess energy or control that anxiety? A fast and simple solution could be a licky mat!

Dogs want to be physically and mentally stimulated – licky mats do both. These mats have a raised, textured pattern that traps the food, so it takes work and time for your dog to eat from it. They are usually made from silicone or rubber, can be put in the dishwasher, and come in all shapes and sizes. Some mats lay flat on the ground while others have suction cups on the back to suction to a shower wall. What a great way to distract your dog during bath time! Many can be found online at Amazon and Chewy, or you can walk into Petco and purchase one for under $10. Some suggestions on what you can mash into them are low-fat cream cheese, wet dog food, natural yogurt, or even a banana! You can also put food on your licky mat and then freeze it as a cool treat on a warm day.

The repetitive licking can be soothing for an anxious dog and the extra effort spent licking can increase saliva which helps with digestion, promotes healthy teeth, and can reduce bad breath! It also exercises your dog’s brain so it can help to tire him out. Another advantage to a licky mat is that it will stop your dog from gobbling up his food too fast. If your dog is a chewer, you should not leave him alone with a licky mat, so be sure to put it away once he’s done eating.

As you can see, licky mats have so many benefits. How might one help with your furry family members?