Which automatic dog ball launcher is best?

Dogs need playtime and exercise just like us. But with our busy schedules, it can be difficult to find the time to devote to our furry loved ones. It’s also possible that the time we do have won’t align with our dog’s desire to play.

Training your dog to use an automatic dog ball launcher, such as the iFetch Interactive Ball Launcher for small- to medium-sized breeds, is the perfect way to make sure they always have something interactive to play with.

What to know before you buy an automatic dog ball launcher

Size

There are two sizes to consider: the size of the launcher and the size of its compatible balls.

  • Launcher size is less important, as most automatic dog ball launchers are similar in size. The only thing to be aware of is that larger launchers are more difficult to move.
  • Ball size is integral to the launcher and your dog. Make sure the balls included are large enough to not be a choking hazard for your dog and small enough to fit comfortably in their mouth. Additionally, ensure any balls you buy are the right size to be effectively launched.

Power source

Most launchers are powered from an outlet or by a battery. Some can be powered by either. Battery options are able to be taken outside, but outlet options are more reliable — plus the energy cost is typically less.

Training requirements

Automatic ball launchers are designed to be used by your dog alone, and your only input is moving it and making sure it has power. Ask yourself: Is my dog trainable to the extent that they will be able to use an automatic ball launcher? You will also need to consider if you have the time and ability to train them.

What to look for in a quality automatic dog ball launcher

Throw distance

Most launchers can throw balls between 10 and 30 feet. Many have the option to adjust the distance as desired, whether that be in increments of 10 feet or smaller. For indoor launching, stick to 10 feet. Outdoor launching can be as long as your yard, device and breed allow.

Throw angle

Most automatic ball launchers throw in one direction: straight. Better launchers offer variable-angle throws. The best launch a ball at a random angle to keep your dog more entertained.

Motion sensor

Automatic ball launchers are called launchers for a reason: They can seriously chuck a ball forward. This force can be more than enough to cause some damage if you or your dog are directly in front of the launcher, so the best launchers include front-facing motion sensors. If something is detected, the machine won’t launch.

How much you can expect to spend on an automatic dog ball launcher

Depending on the breed size it’s intended for, you can find launchers for $50-$150. There are options for less than $50, but these are rarely worth it. The best launchers typically start at $100.

Automatic dog ball launcher FAQ

How much noise does an automatic ball launcher make?

A. Not much, even for the noisiest launchers. That said, they all do still generate some noise. Skittish dogs will need plenty of time to get used to it, though the most skittish may never be able to approach it.

Can I leave my dog alone with an automatic ball launcher?

A. Yes and no. It’s OK to walk away for a few minutes while your dog enjoys their toy. However, leaving it on all day while you’re gone is dangerous for a few reasons. First, if it’s indoors, your dog may bump it and cause it to launch in different directions, which can result in damage to the home, furniture or belongings. Secondly, some dogs don’t know when to quit and may overexert themselves trying to endlessly chase and return a ball.

How do I maintain an automatic ball launcher?

A. There isn’t much maintenance to perform other than giving the exterior and the interior a good cleaning every now and then. The interior is more important to clean as letting grass, dirt and saliva build up can lower the launcher’s ability.

What’s the best automatic dog ball launcher to buy?

Top automatic dog ball launcher

iFetch Interactive Ball Launcher for Dogs

iFetch Interactive Ball Launcher for Dogs

What you need to know: This is perfect for medium-sized breeds and smaller.

What you’ll love: It includes three mini tennis balls that are 1.6 inches wide, and it can launch them at distances of 10, 20 or 30 feet. The entrance zone is wide enough to comfortably let your dog return the balls, and rubberized feet keep it firmly in place.

What you should consider: It can eject balls with enough force to harm particularly small dogs and those who stand immediately in front of the launcher.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Chewy

Top automatic dog ball launcher for the money

All For Paws Automatic Ball Launcher for Dogs

All For Paws Automatic Ball Launcher for Dogs

What you need to know: This is available in small- and big-breed focused sizes.

What you’ll love: It includes three tennis balls that are 2 inches in diameter and can be fired at distances of 10, 20 or 30 feet every 10 seconds. It won’t trigger the firing mechanism unless a sensor detects balls waiting in its till. 

What you should consider: It should only be used indoors — dropping wet and otherwise dirty tennis balls into the hopper can damage it.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

PetSafe Automatic Tennis Ball Launcher

PetSafe Automatic Tennis Ball Launcher

What you need to know: This model imposes breaks for dogs who don’t know how to take one.

What you’ll love: It includes two tennis balls that can be thrown between 8 and 30 feet depending on which of the nine distance settings is chosen. It has a safety sensor to prevent balls from being launched when something is within 7 feet of the front.

What you should consider: A few consumers had issues with the launcher shaking some of its screws loose. The 15-minute timer is too short for breeds that need to expel more energy.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Chewy

 

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Jordan C. Woika writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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