Greetings fellow pet parents! My name is Shelby, and like you I am a fellow dog lover!
The most important thing in my life is my loveable Springer Spaniel Beagle mix named Sage.
When I was looking into adopting a dog, I knew I needed to rescue a dog that needed my help. Sage was unexpectedly dropped into my lap and I immediately fell in love!
Like most dogs, Sage’s favorite past time is a good game of fetch. I can’t even say how often I have to stop her from playing fetch for her own good! She would play for hours if you let her.
If you have a dog that is anything like Sage, I know you probably get tired and sore throwing the ball endlessly for your pet. I know I did!
I am also not embarrassed to admit I am not the most athletic and I do not throw the ball as far as I wish I could, which lead me to some crazy methods to get the ball the distance I need it to go.
But I have recently found a better solution for these issues and that is the dog ball launcher!
Why Should you get a Dog Ball Launcher?
If your dog loves to play fetch like Sage than you also need to invest in a dog ball launcher!
Dog owners know how quickly throwing the ball for your furry friend can become tiresome.
Throwing the ball for your pet can quickly cause you to become sore and uncomfortable, often leaving your pet wanting more.
The solution is very simple, get a dog ball launcher! Dog ball launchers allow you to throw the ball farther and with more ease than traditional throwing methods allowing your pet to play longer and better.
Dog ball launchers can also be a solution for pet parents who lead busy lives but want to ensure their pet stays active and engaged.
With a choice between manual and automatic dog ball launchers how involved you want to be in your playtime with your pet is left up to you.
Types of Dog Ball Launchers:
The idea behind purchasing a dog ball launcher is that you want to be able to get the desired distance as easily as possible while being also able to achieve the desired hours of playtime.
The first types of dog ball launchers are manual launchers. There are a couple types of manual ball launchers.
One type is a classic stick system that allows you to pick up the ball at the end of the stick and fling the ball with a quick whipping gesture.
This is the most involved type of ball launcher and allows you to be completely engaged with the fetch process.
This is ideal for dog owners who still want to play with their dog but also get the desired distance while also preserving their shoulder.
This product is also easy to find, and highly inexpensive for more price sensitive pet owners.
Another type of manual dog ball launcher is one that operates like a dog ball shooter. With this option, you can load the tennis ball into the gun mechanism and shoot the ball out for your pet.
This is considered manual because you are still exerting effort and have to help your pet by reloading and operating the device.
This type of launcher is able to achieve long distances for your pet. Unlike the previous option, this does not require as much physical effort to operate allowing longer playtime.
The last type of dog ball launcher is the automatic launcher. This option will shoot out the ball for your pet and can be completely uninvolved between pet and owner.
This is ideal for someone who wants their pet to be able to stay active on their own leaving the owner free to do other things.
The device operates by you or your pet dropping the ball into the tray. The device will then funnel the ball into the launching mechanism and throw the ball for the dog all on its own.
These are the costliest option, but can be very effective and allow your dog to have more control over his or her own playtime.
Manual vs Automatic Dog Ball Launchers…
Like anything else, there are pros and cons to all options.
Classic Stick-Manual Launcher:
|Still requires manual effort which can cause fatigue
|Allows involvement with your pet
|Can be made cheaply
|Simple to use
|Achieve shorter distances than other launchers
|Easier on your shoulder than traditional throwing
|Distance is harder to control
|Allows you to throw the ball farther
|Dog might view the launcher itself as a toy
|Can use device to pick up ball-saving you from dog spit
Bazooka Type-Manual Launcher:
|Less effort to operate than other manual launchers
|Requires more knowledge and steps to operate
|Launches farther than other manual launchers
|Can be more expensive than the classic launcher
|Can be offered with multiple settings
|Less physical strain and fatigue for the owner
Automatic Dog Ball Launcher:
|Does not require human involvement
|Dogs are more in control of their playtime
|Requires power or battery replacements
|Indoor and outdoor options available
|Some automatic launchers don’t put high emphasis on safety
|Available for different sized dogs
|Will require training for the pet
|Distances can be programmable
How to use a Manual Dog Ball Launcher:
Using a manual dog ball launcher can be very simple!
Using the classic stick-system you simply scoop the ball up with the cradle at the end of the device, and whip the stick in the direction you want to throw the ball.
The cradle offers the advantage of not having to touch a slobbery and gross tennis ball. Any dog owner knows how quickly those can get gross. Especially after a rain or while playing in fresh cut grass!
However, because of the required use of your arm and shoulder with this method, you can still tire or become sore.
Using a bazooka or ball shooter option is a little more involved. To use this device the first step is to load in a tennis ball. With most bazooka-type launchers this can be done by the barrel or by hand.
You then have to pull back on the charging handle. This can help determine how far the ball is launched and is a great way to control the distance and tailor the game to your specific pet.
You should then be able to simply pull the trigger. This will cause the mechanism to launch the ball in the desired direction.
How to use an Automatic Dog Ball Launcher:
Unlike a manual dog ball launcher, an automatic dog ball launcher will require some pet training. Unless you want to drop the ball in for your dog yourself, they will need to learn how to do it.
The first thing that you will need to do before you start to train your dog is to properly set up the launch device.
Most automatic ball launchers can be adjusted for time, speed, and distance. This will allow you to tailor the device for the dog and your yard.
The main areas to focus on when training your dog to use the launcher are getting him or her comfortable to the noise of the machine, showing them where to stand when the launcher goes off, and teaching them to return the ball into the machine.
You will want to ensure you train your dog to stand to the side of the machine before launch so they do not get hit by the powerful launch.
The machine will emit a warning tone, and that should indicate to your dog to move to the side.
Some models have safety features that will not shoot if it senses something in front of it, but this is not always the case.
Training your dog to utilize the machine should be very simple. With use of treats and rewards you should be able to easily get your dog used to using the machine.
For most dogs, the ability to play fetch will be its own reward and will help to motivate them!
Make sure that you do not allow your dog to use the automatic ball launcher unsupervised.
Despite added safety features, you do not want to add the risk something going wrong while you are not available.
Best Automatic and Manual Tennis Ball Launchers for Dogs
3 of The Best Manual Dog Ball Launchers
#1 Chuckit! Classic Launcher
The “Chuckit!” brand ball launcher is a simple, inexpensive and easy to use product that you can use with any dog. They have a wide variety of options to allow you to choose what’s best for you and your pet.
These options include different handle lengths which allows for different maximum distances and different ball sizes that can help you customize for your particular pet’s size.
“Chuckit!” also offers an easy to read chart that includes a guide on which product to pick so you know what you need!
|Hard to control distance
|No indoor option
|Strain on your body
|Easy to use
|Works with all types of Tennis Balls
The “Chuckit!” brand ball launcher is ideal for pet owners who want to remain involved in their pet’s playtime with less strain on their shoulders and less bending down.
The launcher also allows you to pick up the ball without your hands, saving you from dog spit, mud, and grass on your hands.
This product is not ideal for people who have issues with the motion required to throw a ball since this requires similar motion.
The Chuckit is mainly for people who hope to accomplish longer distance than they can manage with traditional throwing, while still being physically capable to throw the ball on their own.
This product is also not meant for small spaces. With less control over how far the ball goes it is not ideal for indoor play or somewhere compact and close to roads or neighbors.
Make sure you do not leave the launcher with your dog unattended as some may choose to chew on it and can break it.
#2 Hyper Pet K9 Kannon K2 Ball Launcher
Like the “Chuckit!” ball launcher this product also allows you to pick up balls hands-free.
This particular product can launch a tennis ball up to 75 feet, but has different levels based on how far you pull back the trigger.
|No replacement rubber bands if needed
|Easy to use
|No indoor option
|Works with all types of Tennis Balls
The “Hyper Pet K9 Kannon K2” ball launcher is a less physically involved way to play fetch with your K9 friend.
It does not require the physical act of throwing and can be idea for adults or children who need assistance with traditional ball throwing.
One issue with this product is the lack of replacement ability. This launcher uses a rubber band to launch the tennis ball and they currently do not sell replacement rubber bands if the rubber band loosens or snaps.
Looking into this product, it appears that the rubber band can last up to a year to a few years depending on use, temperature, and how well you take care of the device.
If you find that the rubber band needs replacing you will have to replace the entire device. However, device needs to be replaced it does not have a very high price point.
#3 Nerf Dog Tennis Ball Blaster
This is also a hands-free tennis ball pickup device. Unlike the “Hyper Pet” launcher, the “Nerf Dog” launcher only launches the tennis ball up to 50 feet.
|Trigger might be difficult to pull back
|Easy to use
|Rubber band wear
|No indoor use
|Works with all types of Tennis Balls
The main issue with the “Nerf Dog Tennis Ball Blaster” is that it can be difficult to pull the lever back.
This would make it difficult for children or anyone with physical limitations to use with their dogs.
One of the benefits of this type of toy is the ability to use them when you are not the most physically capable, so a hard to pull back lever can deter you from playing with your pet as well.
Nerf specializes in launch guns of all types, so if you are able to overcome the physical barrier, this will likely be a durable and effective toy for you and your pet to enjoy.
2 of The Best Automatic Dog Ball Launchers
#1 iFetch Too Automatic Ball Launcher
This device allows dogs to play fetch with by themselves by being able to refill the device without human assistance.
|Different distance settings
|Takes 2-8 hours to fully recharge
|Can be used indoors or outdoors
|Cord or Battery Powered
|1 Year Warranty
This toy allows for indoor or outdoor use with different distance settings that include 10, 20, or 30 feet. This device is ideal for dogs of all sizes and they even offer smaller versions to ensure they fit everyone’s needs.
The main drawback for the “iFetch Too Automatic Ball Launcher” is the high price point.
All the automatic ball launchers are more expensive than their manual counterparts due to the nature and complexity of the devices, but this device in particular is on the more expensive side at a price of $200.00 which is around $50.00 more than the “PetSafe Automatic Ball Launcher” featured below.
#2 PetSafe Automatic Ball Launcher
It is highly customizable with a distance setting between 8 and 30 feet that include 9 distance settings, 6 angle settings, and time restriction settings.
|High quality safety features
|Can be used indoors or outdoors
As I am sure any pet parent will agree, safety is the number one priority when doing things with our lovable furry family members.
This product puts a high emphasis on safety features for your pet as well as anything else in the vicinity of the device.
Safety features include a safety sensor and ball detector in launch pocket, as well as motion sensors.
The motion sensor can see movement up to 7 feet in front of the device and will not launch if movement is detected.
This is highly important for the safety of your dog, small children, or anything else that may be in front of the device.
One feature that was important to me was the 15-minute rest feature. My dog Sage would run for hours if you let her despite temperature, fatigue, or any injuries.
If you throw it, she will go get it. The “Pet Safe Automatic Ball Launcher” 15-minute rest feature prevents over working using 15-minute cycles. This will repeat until you turn off the power.
Besides all the safety features, there are also customizable features that allow the device to work in any space.
You can control distance between 8 and 30 feet with 9 different settings as well as adjusting the angle the ball shoots out.
This will be great to mix things up with your pet or change based on location. Since the device is battery powered you can take it anywhere for fun with your pet!
Final Thoughts: Best Automatic and Manual Tennis Ball Launchers for Dogs
My major conclusion is that I will never go back to simply throwing the ball again! My wimpy throws weren’t impressing anyone anyways.
As for the debate between automatic and manual, I like the idea of both types.
Fetch is a bonding and playtime experience that my pet and I both enjoy. I like using the manual ball launchers when I really feel like bonding with my dog.
It’s also easier to take them to places like the park and beach for a change in location. I like to use outdoor games to bond and spend quality time with my sweet girl, and I wouldn’t want to completely lose that.
There are times, however, where she wants to play and I have other things that need to be done.
With an automatic ball launcher, I am able to focus on friends, cooking on the grill, or other activities while she remains occupied and entertained.
This is ideal for those times when I just can’t constantly whip or shoot the ball myself. The automatic launcher is also a mental exercise as well as a physical exercise for my pet.
Learning to use the device and drop the ball into the pocket is a challenge for the dog’s mind in the same way fetch is a challenge for their body.
Overall, fetch has improved highly with the use of ball launchers. She gets more exercise with the longer distances and we are able to play much longer which she loves.
The options that exist should work with any pet family and their routine. It doesn’t matter if it’s manual or automatic, whatever dog ball launcher is for you, I highly suggest you look into purchasing one!