If you have a dog that loves to chase and retrieve the ball, then an automatic ball launcher is essential. I am sure you know that look that says “please throw it just another 1000 times’.
Ball Launchers are a battery or power operated machine that shoots balls across the yard or the house (generally 10-30 feet) so that your dog can chase and fetch them.
Your dog can be trained to return the balls to the funnel-shaped opening in the machine and enjoy hours of entertainment fetching balls without any involvement from you at all. It can be a significant investment, but in our experience, the price is worth it, because you’re getting an automatic ball thrower for dogs that you can use for years to come.
There is quite a range of ball launchers available. Here are my top three recommended brands. Which model you choose will depend on the size of your dog. For example, the iFetch shoots smaller balls (1.5 inches in diameter), so it works best with small- to medium-sized dogs. The iFetch Too, and PetSafe Go shoot tennis ball-sized balls and would make a better choice for large dogs.
You will need to teach your dog how to use a ball launcher initially. However, once they have it sorted they will entertain themselves for hours. Watch the video below to see how one user taught their dog how to use the ball launcher.
The king of the automatic ball thrower market is the iFetch, which only hit the marketplace in 2014 and has already built up a rabid fan base. Dog owners love the fact that the iFetch shoots balls far, the device looks cool, and the machine itself is sturdy. It’s also flexible enough to be either an indoor or outdoor product.
The iFetch can either be plugged into the wall or operated on battery power. The C batteries (not included) will provide up to 30 hours of machine life, which means you can potentially go several months without needing to replace the batteries.
The iFetch uses small, soft blue balls that won’t hurt your dog. They are easy for any small to medium dog to fetch.
For medium to large-sized dog breeds, there’s the iFetch Too A bigger, more powerful machine than the original iFetch. The iFetch Too uses balls that are the size of regulation tennis balls, which is convenient because you can easily replace them when the original balls wear out.
This device stands more than 12 inches tall and it can shoot balls up to 40 feet, one of the longest distances offered by any automatic ball thrower for dogs. It also uses a rechargeable battery which comes with the machine. That’s great because you won’t have to invest in new batteries all the time!
The PetSafe came on the market in 2016 as an alternative to the iFetch Too. It uses tennis ball-sized balls and comes in an attractive purple and grey color scheme.
The big advantage of the PetSafe is that it has nine different distance settings and six angle settings. No other ball launcher can even come close to that many options. This allows you to use it virtually anywhere – in small spaces indoors, or out in a big park or backyard where you can shoot the balls higher into the sky.
The iDogmate Mini is another popular ball launcher on the market. However, personally, I don’t recommend this one as it is a higher price than most ball launchers and users have complained about the quality and reliability.
The iFetch Frenzy is the only dog puzzle toy that doesn’t use treats. The ball itself is the reward. Your dog drops the ball into the top and scrambles to find it as it randomly rolls from 6-12 feet out of 1 of 3 chutes at the base.
There’s no launching, like our other iFetch ball launchers. This product allows dogs to quickly return to the real challenge: the mental game of guessing where the ball will appear next.