January 2019

         Environmental Enrichment

Singer intelligence and, at least when young, their high activity level can make them challenging to live with. Here we offer some ways suggested by long-term Singer owners to provide mental and physical activities to enrich your Singer’s life. 

Dr Noys toys without filling have a Velcro opening so the squeakers are replaceable. Noys sells little plush pouches with Velcro closure for the squeakers and the person recommending these toys said her Singer liked more than one in a toy. Singers LOVE killing squeakers! 

More than one owner recommended the cat toy puzzle box. Although designed for cats, the holes are big enough for Singer paws. Unlike most dogs, Singers have very dexterous front legs and paws. Small plush toys or balls inside should get a singer interested. If your Singer loses interest in fishing for the toys try using treats instead.

Singers have an extremely acute sense of smell. There are many ways to take advantage of this and devise scent toys and play for them. There are organized “trials” for dog nosework (yes, the activity name is one word) and many of the methods used to train for those can be applied to entertaining Singers. Here is a link to. Dr. Ian Dunbar’s website where you can read about nosework and watch free videos:

One owner made her own scent toys out of old jeans, cutting strips and tying several of them together in the middle. She got the scents used to train hunting dogs – quail, pheasant, coyote, and others – and put a couple drops on the toy, leaving them around the house or yard for the Singers to find. The Singers rolled on these and carried them around. Perfume and cooking extracts may also get their interest.

Another owner said her Singer loves the Kong Gyro Dog Toy treat dispenser. It is not chew proof like so many Kong toys, so needs to be used with supervision. How the toy works: 1.The plastic ball unscrews to fill with small treats (note entire ball doesn’t come out, only half). 2. Screw the ball back together tightly and place on floor. The ball will spin or roll around if pawed or pushed with the nose. The outer rubber ring can be grabbed (note the teeth marks) and the toy can be flipped over, shaken, etc. Treats come out only when the hole is on the underside, difficult as there is a lip on the inside of the hole. If your Singer isn’t motivated to play with the toy, try upping the value/desirability of the treats.

Of course Singers love chasing things. There is one great way to exercise them without wearing yourself out: a horse lunge whip. These are about eight to ten feet long, half of that a semi-flexible handle and half soft braided. There is a “popper” on the tip, a few inches of stiff cord sometimes with a leather flap, on the end. Tie a lure, either a white cloth, sock, or a small plush toy like a mouse. The whip can be flicked around to make the lure fly through the air, jump, and leap in addition to dragging it on the ground. A video of one in use is at:

Although it was not recommended by an owner that used one, the “snuffle mats” look like Singers would love them. Here’s instruction for making your own:  

One last suggestion: Singers get bored easily, so rotate your Singer’s toys changing them out on a regular basis.  If you have suggestions for enrichment objects or activities send them to the Society and we’ll add them to this blog.

Janice Koler-Matznick


ATTENTION!  We are conducting a health survey regarding captive NGSDs. This survey will provide us with important information regarding trends in health issues and assist in tracking health, particularly over time. We hope that you will take a few moments to fill out this survey and contribute to keeping our Singers healthy and happy!! Just click on the “Take Survey” button on the right. Results of the survey will be published on this website and a token of our gratitude will be sent to you. Thanks in advance!  

Our blogs will discuss an array of topics related to life with Singers, including health issues, behavior challenges, aging Singers and discussion of recent research findings. 

You may contact us with any subject matter regarding NGSDs that you’d like discussed by emailing us at



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