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Best Automatic Ball Launcher For Dogs

Best Automatic Ball Launcher For Dogs

Most dogs love to play fetch, which is perfect because it’s actually a good way to exercise them. Although nothing beats an opportunity to interact with you and other family members, an automatic ball launcher can toss balls and offer longer playtimes than we can sometimes.

If you can teach your dog to reload it, such a device can even be used to keep your dog busy and encourage independent play. This article will examine the best automatic ball launcher for dogs as well as the features you need to look for in an automatic ball launcher.

*This article may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of the links I get a small commission at no additional cost to you 🙂 .

Things To Look For In An Automatic Ball Launcher For Dogs

There are several models of automatic ball launchers that are suitable for dogs. At first glance, it might seem like they’re all practically the same. After all, how different can they all be from one another if their main function is simply to toss balls?

If you’re mindful of the details, however, you’ll find that some are actually better for your dog than others. In general, here are some of the most important details you should pay attention to:

Ball Size:

When your dog likes to play fetch, you’ll inevitably need to buy a lot of different balls.  Some automatic ball launchers require you to use a certain type of ball to work with their machine, while others let you use any ball of a certain size.  

Ball size is a very important consideration, not just for practicality but also for safety and enjoyment. You should first determine the right ball size for your dog and then find a compatible automatic ball launcher.

Generally, you want a ball that’s not too big that your dog struggles to pick it up, but also not too small that it could be a choking hazard.

Balls of around 1.5 inches are suitable for smaller dogs like Beagles, Dachshunds, and Italian Greyhounds. On the other hand, balls of at least 2.5 inches in diameter are best for larger breeds like Labradors, Golden Retrievers, and German Shepherds.

Launching Distance:

Different machines can launch balls at different distances. The best distance will be determined by your space and your dog’s capacity to sprint.   Find a launcher that will throw balls to a distance that keeps your dog interested in the game.

Some of the more advanced automatic ball launchers for dogs offer different settings that allow you to adjust between distances, and can even select a distance randomly.   

Capacity:

Some automatic ball launchers are meant to be used with one ball at a time. This could be useful if you only have one dog, but it could also be better if the launcher holds more than one ball so the fun can get going longer before needing to be refilled.

If you have multiple dogs, a launcher with a hopper or ball track that holds several balls at a time will be useful so that it can launch one ball after the other and every dog can have a turn.

Launch Angles:

Most interactive ball launchers for dogs will at a minimum throw balls at a single angle that’s suitable for catching and fetching. However, more advanced models have adjustable launch angles, so you can customize them according to your dog’s play preferences.

Safety:

Some dog ball launchers have safety features that will keep both your dog and your family from being hurt. Among the most useful safety functions are front sensors that keep the device from launching a ball if it could hit somebody or your dog.

Additionally, other launchers have features that force your dog to take breaks so they don’t overexert themselves.

Durability:

Fetch is an exciting time for energetic and playful pups, so your automatic ball launchers should be able to keep up. The device itself should be durable enough to endure outdoor play and typical interactions with dogs.

Also, check reviews if it can handle all the slobber that it will inevitably encounter.

Remote Control:

Some automatic dog ball launchers come with remote controllers so that you can take part in playtimes and make adjustments to the machine even while relaxing at a distance.

Reviews of the Best Automatic Ball Launchers for Dogs

There are so many automatic ball launchers for dogs and they vary greatly in price, features, and durability. Here are some that will surely give the best value to you and the most enjoyment to your dog.

iDogmate Big Dog Ball Launcher

The Ball Throwing Machine by iDogmate comes in two sizes to meet the needs of both small and big dogs.

iDogmate Ball Launcher for Big Dogs

It features a modern, cubic design, which keeps it from toppling over even when trampled by overexcited dogs. Plus, it has a pretty large hopper that will enable you to keep several balls lined up for throwing.

The smaller version comes with 1.75-inch balls and can launch at distances of 10, 20, 30, and 35 feet while the larger one comes with 2.5-inch balls and launches at distances of 10, 20, 30, and 40 feet. Both versions also have a random distance setting, which keeps your pup at peak excitement.

What I love:

  • Rechargeable
  • Adjustable throwing distance
  • Random distance setting
  • Works well even with slobbery balls
  • Comes with remote control

Possible downsides:

  • No front sensor risks launching ball at dogs and people.

iFetch Interactive Ball Launcher for Dogs

iFetch offers two models: the original iFetch for small to medium-sized breeds and the iFetch Too for large and extra-large breeds.

iFetch Ball Launcher for Dogs

Both models come in a sturdy dome-shaped design with the hopper right at the top to encourage dogs to load it themselves.

The smaller iFetch comes with 1.6-inch balls and throws steadily or randomly at distances of 10, 20, or 30 feet. It is powered by an AC adapter, which works out since smaller dogs most often engage in indoor play. If you ever want to take it out, it can also runs on C-cell batteries.

On the other hand, the iFetch Too comes with 2.5-inch balls and launches balls at distances of 10, 25, or 40 feet. It also has a random distance setting to keep your dog guessing and completely entertained. This model comes with a built-in rechargeable battery that can power up to 300 launches when fully charged.

What I love:

  • Sturdy design
  • Adjustable throwing distance
  • Random launch distance setting
  • Works with similar-sized balls
  • Rechargeable with long battery life (for iFetch Too)

Possible downsides:

  • Original iFetch isn’t rechargeable
  • No remote control
  • Not very good with slobbery and wet balls
  • No front sensor risks launching a ball at dogs and people

PetSafe Automatic Ball Launcher

The PetSafe Automatic Ball Launcher is best known not just for its stylish design but also for its advanced features.

PetSafe Ball Launcher for Dogs

It holds standard-sized tennis balls and offers 9 distance settings (from 8 to 30 feet) as well as 6 angle settings.

Additionally, it has motion sensors that keep it from launching balls when there are pets or people within 7 feet in front of it.

Another incredible feature of the PetSafe Automatic Ball Launcher is the rest interval. After 15 minutes of straight play, it will automatically sleep for 15 minutes.

This helps keep dogs from playing up to the point of over-exhaustion. The machine also has auditory cues, which help train the dogs to use it on their own.

What I love:

  • Multiple distance & angle settings
  • Motion sensor keeps pets and people safe
  • Rest interval to keep dogs from overheating
  • Works with standard tennis balls
  • Sounds help with training

Possible downsides:

  • Not rechargeable
  • No remote control
  • No random distance setting
  • Too large for smaller breeds

GoDogGo Fetch Machine

The Fetch Machine by GoDogGo works with balls from 1.75 to 2.6 inches in diameter.

GoDogGo Ball Launcher for Dogs

It has 3 distance settings (low, medium, and high) and 3 timing settings (4, 6, and 15 seconds).

Plus, it launches balls at a high angle to avoid hitting dogs. It also comes with a remote controller, which you can use to launch the balls or adjust the settings from up to 50 feet away.

One of the best features of the GoDogGo Fetch Machine is its large bucket, which makes it easy for dogs to reload it. The bucket also acts as a hopper, which can hold up to 25 balls at a time.

Additionally, the unique design of this automatic launcher makes it better able to handle dirty, slobbery, and soaked balls.

What I love:

  • Adjustable time and distance settings
  • Large, wide-mouthed bucket
  • Launches at a high angle to avoid hitting dogs
  • Compatible with various ball sizes
  • Handles dirty and slobbery balls well
  • Comes with remote control

Possible downsides:

  • Not rechargeable
  • Might be too tall for small dogs to reload on their own
  • No random distance setting

Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Buy an Automatic Ball Launcher

Although having an automatic ball launcher has plenty of advantages, there are certain situations when it’s not advisable to purchase one. These include:

When Your Dog Doesn’t Like Playing Fetch

Before you invest in an automatic ball launcher, make sure it is something your pup will enjoy. It pays to first teach them how to play fetch on your own and observe their behavior.

Buy a machine if it seems like something they’re really excited about and could be a good way to get their regular exercise.

When You Don’t Have Enough Space

Most ball launchers will toss balls at a minimum distance of 7-10 feet and some can toss the ball at a distance of up to 40 feet.

Although a large yard would be ideal, it’s not absolutely necessary. You can use these indoors as long as you have a clear, wide-open space where your dog can run around without the risk of hitting or breaking anything.

When Your Dog Shows Some Obsessive Behavior

Some dogs become overly excited about fetching that they become wild while playing. Some even have a tendency to show aggressive behavior when the ball is taken from them or when it’s time to stop.

If yours displays obsessive behavior when playing fetch or chasing after balls, getting them an automatic ball launcher will simply reinforce that behavior. It would be better to engage in other, less stimulating activities or address those behavioral issues first.

When Your Dog Is Prone To Injury Or Older

If your dog gets so wild chasing a ball that they have injured themselves in the past, an automatic ball launcher for dogs may not be a good choice.

Also, if you have an older dog you may want to refrain from getting one of these devices. If your older dog likes to play fetch it’ll be better in most instances for you to control the throwing of the ball so they don’t wear themselves out with an automatic ball launcher.

You may also want to consider some puzzle toys or mental exercises that are lower impact but still provide a fun time for your older pooch.

Final Thoughts

Playing fetch is definitely a good way to give your dog exercise. Although tossing the ball yourself gives you better opportunities to bond, having an automatic ball launcher can you avoid fatigue and is a good option for when you are multitasking and your dog gets impatient waiting for you.

Ball launchers can also toss the ball at a more exciting distance and variation for your pup with certain features. Lastly, once your dog learns how to load it themselves, they’ll be able to keep themselves occupied and play independently. Of course, you should always supervise your pup to make sure they don’t overexert themselves.

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