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. For excursions like this you need a dog ball launcher and here we look at the best tennis ball launchers for dogs.
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.
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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 tennis 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 dog 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.
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 short 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.
Then again, 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 it 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 and has 3 distance settings.
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 neighbours).
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 garden, 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 a shamble afterwards.
What’s more, you also obviously want the ball landing somewhere where 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 garden 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 glance. 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 join in the fun as well, acting not as an automated system but more like a mini dog ball bazooka of sorts, the Nerf Tennis Ball Blaster fits this category.
A pure manual ball launcher for dogs, such as the Chuckit! Ultra Grip Ball Launcher, is still great fun and can actually launch your pooches ‘fetch’ ball far further than many of the automatic ball launchers.
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. These are great for those trips to the park or the beach.
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 tennis ball launchers 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 underperform. 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 being 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.
You’ll find that the manual type ball launchers such as the Nerf or Chuckit! are at the lower end of the price scale – in the region of £8 to £25 – depending on the size purchased.
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 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 Recognised Sellers
In addition, you’re going to want to make sure that you’re buying a dog ball launcher from a brand 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 tennis ball launchers 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 replacement or 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.
Summary: Best Tennis Ball Launchers for Dogs
As you can see from reading through the article, there are many varieties of tennis ball launchers for dogs; ranging from fully automatic, multi-ball machines as in the GoDogGo Ball Launcher down to the simple but effective manual ball launcher such as the Chuckit! Ultra Grip Ball Launcher. Our overall favourite is the Chuckit! Ultra Grip Ball Launcher due to the fact it can be used anywhere without the worry of batteries running low and it can actually launch balls a very, very long way!
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Bowwowtech.co.uk does not provide veterinary advice. Our aim is to provide the reader with information to enable them to make a good decision when making a purchase. All content is therefore for informational purposes only.