Tips & Tricks

How to Get Your Dog Interested in a Lick Mat: A Step-by-Step Guide

dog licking mat on the floors

Lick mats have become increasingly popular among dog owners as a fun and engaging way to provide mental stimulation and promote healthy habits for their canine friends.

However, not all dogs immediately take to licking mats with the same enthusiasm. Some pups might jump right in and start licking away, while others might need a little coaxing or some helpful tricks to get them excited about this new experience.


In this blog post, we’ll walk you through a step-by-step guide on how to introduce your dog to a lick mat and make it a fun and rewarding experience for both you and your pet.

Let’s dive in.

The Benefits of Using a Lick Mat

Ever wonder why lick mats are all the paw-rage these days? Before we unleash the fun of introducing your pup to one, let’s dig into the reasons why they’re such a paw-some tool for canine companions:

  • Stress Reduction: Licking is a natural and calming behavior for dogs. Lick mats, with their textured surfaces, encourage this behavior and may promote the release of endorphins, hormones associated with feelings of well-being. This can be especially beneficial in managing anxiety during stressful situations like bath time or loud noises.
high angle owner feeding dog

  • Mental Stimulation: Lick mats provide a form of mental enrichment for dogs. The act of licking and exploring the textured surface can help keep them occupied and engaged, combating boredom and destructive behaviors.
  • Slow Feeding: Lick mats can be used as slow feeders, encouraging dogs to take their time consuming their food. This can be beneficial for dogs who tend to gobble down their meals quickly, potentially leading to digestive issues like bloating or vomiting.
dogs licking the mats

  • Promoting Relaxation: While not a substitute for physical exercise, the mental exertion required to use a lick mat can contribute to a dog’s sense of calmness and relaxation. The focused licking and problem-solving involved in extracting treats from the textured surface can tire out a dog’s mind in a similar way to completing a puzzle.
dog kong toys

Step 1: Choose the Right Food or Treat

The first step in getting your dog interested in a lick mat is to choose the right food or treat to spread on the mat. The key is to choose something that your dog loves, and that is safe for them to eat.

Some popular options include:

  • Greek yogurt
  • Peanut butter (make sure it doesn’t contain xylitol, which is toxic to dogs)
  • Tuna, sardines, or salmon
  • Baby food (without onion or garlic)
  • Vegetable puree
  • Dog-friendly fruit, like bananas, blueberries…
  • Cream cheese
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Mushy dog food
  • Wet or liquid dog food

When choosing a food or treat, make sure to check the ingredients to confirm that it is safe for your dog to consume. If you have any doubts, consult your veterinarian or a professional dog trainer.


Step 2: Start with a Small Amount

Once you’ve chosen the right food or treat, it’s time to introduce your dog to the lick mat.

To start, load a small circle of the food or treat in the middle of the mat. Use a spatula or the back of a spoon to press the food into the mat, creating a thin layer that your dog can easily lick off.

It’s important to start with a small amount of food or treat to avoid overwhelming your dog. You want to make it easy for them to learn how to use the lick mat and associate it with positive experiences.

Step 3: Set Up a Comfortable Area

Before you give your dog the lick mat, it’s important to set up a comfortable area for them to enjoy it in. If you have multiple dogs, you may need to separate them to avoid any conflicts or competition over the lick mat.

Choose a quiet area of your home where your dog can relax and enjoy their treat without any distractions. You may want to set up the lick mat on a mat or towel that is easily cleaned, especially if you’re using a food or treat that is sticky or messy.

beautiful border collie dog havin fun outside

Step 4: Introduce the Lick Mat

Now it’s time to introduce your dog to the lick mat. Sit on the ground with your dog and place the loaded mat on the floor in front of them. Allow your dog to approach the mat and investigate it on their own terms.

If your dog seems hesitant or uninterested, try pointing to the food or treat on the mat and encouraging them to lick it off. You can also try putting a small amount of the food or treat on your finger and letting your dog lick it off before directing them back to the mat.

front view smiley woman petting dog

As your dog starts to lick the mat, praise them and offer encouragement. This will help reinforce the behavior and make it a positive experience for your dog.

Pro Tips: If your dog tends to pick up or flip their lick mat, try placing the mat in a baking tray or pan. This will help keep the mat stable and prevent your dog from moving it around or flipping it over while they enjoy their tasty treats. It’s a simple but effective solution that will allow your pup to focus on the licking fun without any interruptions!

dog making mess with tissues high angle

Step 5: Supervise and Redirect

As your dog enjoys their lick mat, it’s important to supervise them and redirect any unwanted behavior. Some dogs may try to chew on the mat instead of licking it, which can damage the mat and be frustrating for both you and your dog.

If your dog starts to chew on the mat, use a firm “no” or “leave it” command and redirect their attention back to licking. You may need to remove the mat and try again later if your dog is consistently trying to chew on it.

border collie dog training with owner

Step 6: Experiment with Different Foods and Textures

Once your dog has gotten the hang of using the lick mat, it’s time to start experimenting with different foods and textures. This variety keeps things interesting for your pup, engages their natural curiosity, and helps you discover their absolute favorites.

Some ideas for different foods and textures include:

  • Frozen treats (such as frozen yogurt or pureed fruits and vegetables)
  • Chunky versus smooth peanut butter
  • Soft versus crunchy treats
  • Wet versus dry dog food

Pro Tip: For a truly long-lasting and engaging lick mat experience, spread some crunchy treats like small dog biscuits or freeze-dried liver bits onto the surface. These tasty morsels will require some strategic maneuvering with your dog’s tongue to dislodge them, providing a fun and mentally stimulating challenge.

Step 7: Clean the Lick Mat After Each Use

Once your pup has polished off their yummy lick mat, it’s time to tidy up and prevent any bacterial boogiemen from taking hold. Here’s how to keep your dog’s lick mat squeaky clean:

Dishwasher Dash! (For the Dishwasher-Safe Crew)

You’re in luck! If your lick mat is dishwasher-safe, cleaning is incredibly easy. Simply rinse off any leftover food particles under running water, then place it on the top rack of your dishwasher. Let the machine do the rest!

how to wash lick mat

Hand-Washing Heroes (For Those Without Dishwashers)

No dishwasher? No worries! Grab some warm, soapy water and a soft-bristle brush (think gentle on those yummy crevices!). Give the lick mat a good scrub to banish any leftover food bits. Then, rinse it thoroughly with clean water, then let it air dry completely before storing it away.

Final Words

Getting your dog interested in a lick mat may take some time and patience, but trust us, the rewards are worth it!

So, grab your lick mat, whip up some tasty concoctions, and get ready to see your dog’s tail wagging with pure joy!


About Zelda D.Nelson

As a lifelong dog lover and proud mom to two energetic rescue pups, I know firsthand how important puzzle toys are for providing dogs with much-needed mental and physical stimulation. After over a decade of experience raising well-adjusted, happy dogs, I joined the Loobani Pet team to help other pet parents discover the joy and benefits of dog puzzles. Through my work at Loobani Pet, I've become an expert on the ins and outs of various interactive dog toys. My goal is to simplify the selection process so you can easily pinpoint the perfect puzzles to match your pup's needs and lifestyle. Whether you need a toy to challenge your brainy breed, keep your power chewer occupied, or simply provide some rainy day fun, I've got you covered.