Dogs are like small children; they both have inexplicably endless sources of energy. Grown-up humans are exhausted by the end of the day, and can barely reach for the remote, whereas your little pup is jumping around all over the place. We get even more tired (and more than a bit jealous) just looking at them.
You already know that as a dog owner you need to exercise your beloved and confusingly energetic friend. Walking is usually not enough, but if you have a dog park or a beach nearby you might you be able to get him to run. And the further the better. You need a dog ball launcher.
If your dog could talk, he would say, ‘You throw like a human.’ He might also say, ‘Dude, stop blaming those smells on me,’ but that’s an article for another day. Today’s good-natured doggy criticism of you is that you can’t throw the ball far enough, fast enough or often enough.
Paraphrasing Scotty from Star Trek, ‘We’ve got to have more power!’ Fortunately, the inventors are way ahead of you on this one. That curved piece of plastic you tuck the ball on to launch it further in the park is a handy item, but it doesn’t really compare to some of the powered devices available.
When you are looking for a good automatic fetch device for your dog, there is probably not much criteria. One that throws stuff and doesn’t break down a lot is probably about it.
They get more advanced from there including ones that can throw multiple balls and the distance and speed that they can launch at, but you basically probably just want something that throws (and doesn’t suck).
There are about a billion devices on the market, so we have narrowed your selection down a bit to the ones that are the best quality, most popular and best value for money.
Dog Tennis Ball Launchers Quick Compare Table
Tips on choosing the best Tennis Ball Launcher for you
Here are a few tips and tricks to help you “make fetch happen” for your four-legged friend with the best ball launcher for dogs out there on the market today.
Battery Length and Time of Operation
One thing you’ll want to consider right off the bat when thinking about ball launchers for your dogs is just how long you intend to keep them running in the first place. After all, your dog may seem to have boundless repositories of energy, but you don’t, and neither will any battery-powered ball launcher. Some units, such as the iFetch, utilize C-batteries, while others, such as the iFetch Too, are a bit more expensive but make use of rechargeable batteries, saving you money.
What’s more, chances are that you don’t want or need that ball launcher shooting out balls on a 24/7 basis. In addition, you’ll need to think about whether you want to be home while the ball launcher is operating. On the one hand, if you leave it on and leave for a brief spell, you can allow your dog to have some fun for brief periods of time, freeing you from the guilt of leaving them with no way of “making fetch happen” while you’re gone. On the other hand, however, anyone who’s had a dog also knows that they can be prone to causing a mess if not supervised, and leaving electrical items on while you’re not home can be dicey if you don’t make sure it’s fine ahead of time.
Figuring out the battery life of a unit and when you want to use are thus vital considerations when determining the best ball launcher for dogs you own.
Playing fetch should be a fun thing to do. It should not involve your dog frantically fleeing projectiles far larger and faster than themselves, lest they be flattened as in Regina’s “encounter” with that bus at the end of the film. As such, you’re going to want to pay close attention to the size of the projectiles utilized by any given ball launcher. What’s “small enough” for a Golden Retriever might prove a rude awakening for a Shih-Tzu, while the tiny balls used for a Chihuahua might well bore or even pose a choking hazard to a Collie. For larger dogs, you might benefit by using the dog equivalent of a tennis ball launcher for tennis players, with the PetSafe Automatic Ball Launcher or the Nerf Dog Ball Launcher which both use regular tennis balls. Conversely, the iFetch uses smaller blue balls which are perfect for smaller dogs, while the GoDogGo Ball Launcher makes use of smaller balls, as well as regulation size tennis balls.
Likewise, you’re going to want to consider just how far your ball launcher can and will be launching those balls in the first place. This is one instance where more power doesn’t always translate to better results. After all, you hardly want your ball launcher to be shooting your balls over the fence (and neither do you neighbors). On the other hand, a ball launcher that doesn’t shoot the ball further than a couple of feet isn’t really giving your pet the exercise they crave, either. As such, somewhere between 10 and 30 feet is the range at which most dog launchers on the market operate. You are going to want to tinker with that distance to try to make sure that you’re finding the right range for your personal setup.
For example, you’ll want to take into account the size of your yard or interior space. Just how much space does your dog have to run after that ball, anyway? If they only have about 15 feet worth of space and you’ve bought a launcher that shoots it 25 to 30 feet, you’ll find that ball either overshooting its target or crashing into it. If you have a ball launcher set up indoors, balls crashing off their target and careening who-knows-where is the absolute last thing you want, unless you want your home left in shambles afterwards. What’s more, you also obviously want the ball landing somewhere your dog can find it. As such, even if your launcher can shoot it 30 feet, if that means it lands in the bushes, you’ll probably want to alter your setup, unless you want your dog losing the ball, digging around your yard for it, or both.
You’ll also want to take into account the angle at which the dog ball launcher is set up. Even if it’s only designed to launch the ball 10 feet, for example, angling to have an upwards trajectory can naturally change the distance that the ball travels.
While this something you’ll definitely want to consider, it’s also a feature which has also thankfully already been taken into account by the vast majority of dog ball launchers on the market today. For example, the iFetch allows users to change the distance that the ball is shot with the press of a button.
Automatic vs. Manual
This one may seem an odd subject at first blush. After all, isn’t the whole point of a dog ball launcher to launch balls without your having to do so? While that’s true of most models, there are a few that allow you to rejoin the fun as well, acting not as an automated system but more like a mini dog ball bazooka of sorts. Naturally, you’ll want to make sure that you buy this latter type only if you want to be directly involved in the fetch process and have sufficient space in your yard to really blast that ball a good few feet. If you do, however, manual dog launchers can make for a fun option for those looking to play fetch with their pets without tiring out their arm.
A Word about Price
Then we come to one of the trickiest elements to consider when it comes to any item – price. Much as we’d all love to be like Regina with her “Get in, loser, we’re going shopping!” approach to purchasing things, the fact remains that as a pet owner, you’re on a budget. As such, you’re probably not going to want to spend an arm and a leg finding a quality ball launcher. Luckily, your search for the best ball launcher for dogs doesn’t have to be a pricey search. There are plenty of options under $200 which rank among the highest-quality and best-reviewed options on the market out there. That said, it’s also true that you get what you pay for, and you don’t want to underpay for a machine that’s likely to underform. The low to mid- $100s area is the most likely range in which you’ll find the best marriage of price and functionality. For example, the iFetch is in the lower range of this spectrum, with the iFetch Too a bit pricier, but still under $200. You’ll also want to take that question of battery life into consideration here. Units with rechargeable batteries might mean more of an upfront cost, but they might also help you save on C batteries. That said, if you already purchase C batteries for other uses, that might prove the more economical option. Whatever the case may be, you’ll want to root around a bit to find the best dog ball launcher for your budget.
Taking Safety into Account
The absolute last thing you want is for your new toy to cause any harm to yourself, bystanders, or your pet. When searching for the best ball dog launcher for dogs, therefore, you’ll want to be sure to look for models that have a good safety rating. Take the time to review these safety ratings not just on Amazon, but on separate pet goods sites as well, cross-referencing them for the best results.
Buy from Recognized Sellers
In addition, you’re going to want to make sure that you’re buying a dog ball launcher from a team you can trust. After all, you don’t want to sink $100+ into a dog ball launcher only to see it fizzle out on its first day of usage. Conversely, you want to make sure that any dog ball launcher you purchase ticks all of the above boxes mentioned. To that end, it is well worth noting that, in your search for the best ball launcher for dogs, you’re going to want to stick to brands that have already established themselves in the marketplace and have thus been reviewed by other pet owners out there.
In your search for a quality ball launcher, you’re going to want to take the time to find one that not only includes a warranty, but likewise makes it easy to contact the manufacturer. It says a lot about a company when they are transparent with their customers and prioritise convenience. You want to be able to ask questions about or return your dog ball launcher if needed, and you don’t want it to be a hassle. That’s why the best dog ball launchers out there offer high-quality warranties and warranty information. This ensures that if, for any reason, you run into trouble with your dog ball launcher, you are able to return it easily for your money back, making the investment that much more palatable.
You love your dog, and you want your dog to be happy. After all, you’re best friends, and “that’s so fetch!”
Watch their ears perk up and their tails wag once more as you “make fetch happen” again with the best ball launcher for dogs on the market.
A closer looks at some of the best tennis ball launchers
This is the most famous and popular ball launcher, and for good reason; it is excellent. Very good looking and compact and easy for both dogs and their people to use, it comes with three mini tennis balls.
This works indoors and out, running on both batteries and AC. It has three different throwing power settings.
This is designed more for small dogs, as the power of the launch and the sturdiness of the balls probably won’t stand up to medium to bigger dogs, but the product below is better for them.
- 3 power settings, can throw up to 30 feet (9 metres)
- 14 x 11 x 9 inches (36 x 28 x 23 cm)
- Battery lasts up to 30 hours
- Indoor and outdoor use
- Dog can reload by himself
- 3 mini balls included
This product has won awards and been featured everywhere, and we are here to say that the hype is worth it. It is a great product, faultless really for smaller dogs. It is tough and durable and should last forever.
The only detractors would be if you had a bigger breed (in which case we say get a bigger iFetch) and the price isn’t the cheapest on the market. But if you prefer the best rather than the cheapest, this product is for you.
There more fancy products on the market, including ones that feed your dog treats as well, that are motion sensored, or that have more launching options, so you should know this is not the most advanced ball launcher out there.
The product is a tiny bit noisy and may put off the most skittish pups, but most will just get used to it.
It has all the features of the smaller model; so, it is good-looking and sturdy, and works well inside and outside. This one works on full-size tennis balls, so these are easy to replace if they get lost or chewed up, but these balls are generally better for bigger dogs.
The power life is good, and the distance does what it claims it will. You can get at least 250 launches from recharge (or as my dog calls it, ‘Tuesday afternoon’). If you have a bigger dog, this product is so handy; heaps of fun and entertainment and just wonderful value for money.
- 14 x 13 x 12 inches in dimension
- Automatically control speed, launch length and trajectory
- 3 distance settings (10 feet, 25 feet, 40 feet)
- Rechargeable, so no battery required.
- Includes 3 full size tennis balls
- 6 month warranty
Quieter than the smaller model, and as good in every other way. Awesome for bigger dogs. Worth the investment and should last a puppy lifetime.
Essentially it makes both dogs and owners very happy, and teaches pups to be self-sufficient while beautifully running their energy out.
Again, this is not the lowest priced device, so it may be out of some owner’s budgets. Very wet or dirty balls should not be put into the machine as may stop it from working well. As the built-in battery reduces the balls will not launch as far.
This is one of the newest automatic ball launchers on the market, and a lot of thought has gone into the design and features of this product. Dogs absolutely love it and can very easily use it by themselves.
This is one of the best devices if you are looking for something high end with all of the features. It has more settings than the above models, including 5 distance settings, range up to 50 feet (15 metres), and a random setting which is a very clever feature to keep your dog guessing.
It comes with non-abrasive balls that are regular sized and don’t get stuck in the machine. They are brightly coloured and easy to find. This machine is wonderful for any except the smallest dogs.
It comes with a Li-ion battery and a remote control, which is fantastic. For indoor and outdoor use.
- 5 distance settings, including random option, as well as high-launching angle
- Remote control
- AC/DC, with rechargeable batteries
- Large ‘feeder’ area for the dog to insert the ball
- 3 non-abrasive balls, regular tennis-ball sized
- Compact and comes with handles for easy transportation
- Battery life allows up to 1000 launches
This really is a fantastic product, with very little faults. The people who have already bought this item seem to be overwhelmingly happy with it. Can be used inside and out, but it is outdoors that the extra features of this product really shine.
This is a high-end machine, so it is not cheap. It is well worth it for bigger or more energetic dogs however. A little bigger than the other items reviewed, so not for the more frail owners.
Nerf Dog Tennis Ball Launcher
Just for fun, we have reviewed this item as well. It is in a different category really, because the owner needs to hold and work the launcher, (much like an actual bazooka I assume, which dogs can’t operate either).
Lightweight, running with regular tennis balls, and great interactive fun between owners and their more active dogs. Kids love playing with it too (I mean as the launcher; I don’t play fetch with my kids).
- Hands free ball pick up – no need to touch slobbery wet balls
- Adjustable range up to 50ft
- Works with any tennis balls
- Great if you’re not very good at throwing
A great, fun product. It is very well priced, well made and sturdy, and everybody loves it. Because of the price it would make a great gift.
It does require an owner to participate in the game as well as the dog. Not for the super lazy dog owner