The best dog ball launchers

Want to know the new way to play fetch with your dog? Manual and automatic, we share ball gadgets that will launch you into their top spot.

Dog fetching a tennis ball at the river with two dog ball launcher products in the background

by Emily Farquhar |

Playing fetch with your dog can be fun and rewarding, but can also be a lot of work. And, with most dogs requiring not just one throw, perhaps it’s time to consider a less strenuous and just as effective dog fetching option. There's a gadget out there known as the dog ball launcher and trust me, its life-changing. Manual (hand-held) and automatic products, this article is about to open your eyes to the world of how to exercise your pooch without having to sacrifice an arm or a leg.

While you're at it, why not invest in a new dog collar or light up dog collar to make your dog feel extra special?

Related: The dog subscription boxes you’d be barking mad to miss

What is a dog ball launcher?

As stated in its name, a dog ball launcher is an object that simply launches dog balls. These are usually tennis balls, but there are some models that are designed for smaller dogs and use proprietary balls of their own. The dog ball launchers can travel a distance of between 10 to 30 feet (but again this depends on the product itself) and are a strategic way to exercise your canine companion.

How does an automatic dog ball thrower work?

It's very straightforward: the automatic dog ball thrower shoots out a ball (to a set distance) for your dog to collect, rather than you having to throw one yourself. Given that then you’ve trained your dog to successfully return it back to you, it’s the new way to play fetch and I am all about it. Drop in another ball and you’ll be laughing.

Main features to consider:

Similar to buying dog leads, there are a few factors to keep in mind when securing the perfect dog ball launcher.

Indoor or outdoor: Where will your daily fetch game take place? If you have a small space, go for a product that has a short shooting range

Size of your dog: If you have a medium-large dog breed, go for a large dog ball launcher. If you have a small dog, consider getting a smaller ball launcher model

Distance settings: Do you want a dog ball launcher with multiple distance settings to vary the exercise? Perhaps you are satisfied with just one distance feature?

Budget: How much are you willing to pay? Is it worth going for a more expensive automatic dog ball launcher or will a manual option (cheaper) be adequate?


What are the benefits of buying a dog ball launcher?

Apart from the obvious personal physical gain, there are many benefits to using a dog ball launcher. The majority of dogs need a good workout and dog ball launchers can provide exactly this. We don’t want your pup getting weak, aggressive, or less than its cute lively self, do we? Benefits include:

1. Keeps your dog fit, healthy and in shape with minimal effort on your side. Also, it's a great way to play with your dog if you are unfit to do so.

2. Keeps your dog entertained, with an element of surprise and ‘fun’ training. An automatic ball launcher can even entertain your dog without you there.

3. Keeps your dog mentally sane and the mind stimulated.

How can you teach your dog to use an automatic ball launcher?

Similar to any routine puppy training, introducing an automatic ball launcher may require some getting used to. Some dogs can get it in the first go, others need a bit of practice. Here are some tips to successfully launch it with your dog:

1. Be patient (that’s if your dog doesn’t get it in the first go).

2. Warm your dog up to the machine with ten minutes a day, three times a day (your dog getting bored is the last thing you want – make them beg for it!)

3. Reinforce the full process with your dog (throw-and-fetch) to get your dog comfortable with walking back to the machine after collecting a ball. This may take time.

4. After step three, the biggest aim is for your dog to become fully self-reliant on the automatic ball launcher. This requires you to teach your dog to drop the ball back into the launcher – using a reward system – so that eventually your dog can play with the ball launcher without your help. Start this process by rewarding (never apply force or negative reinforcement) your dog when the ball gets dropped close to/around the launcher.

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