The Best Automatic Ball Throwing & Launching Machines For Dogs 2018
Does your dog have infinite reserves of energy? No matter how long a walk you take him on, how many times you throw a ball for him or how much running about in the garden he does is your dog still bouncing off the walls?
If this sounds like your dog then an automatic dog ball thrower would be a great solution. They give dogs plenty of exercise and mental stimulation while also giving you a bit of peace and quiet too!
What is an Automatic Dog Ball Thrower?
An Automatic Dog Ball Thrower is a machine which takes the effort out of playing fetch with your dog. Once your dog has been trained to use it you can simply turn it on and the machine will shoot tennis balls up to 30m (range will vary depending on the model and settings you use), your dog can then retrieve them and place them back in the ball bucket for it to be re-thrown a few seconds later.
Ball Throwing Machine Comparison Table
|Dog Ball Throwing Machine:||The iDog Mate||The PetSafe Automatic||The iFetch Too||The BallReady Interactive||The iFetch Original||The PlayBall Automatic||The Hyper K9 Kannon||The BazooK-9|
|Maximum Ball Launching Distance||50 Feet||30 Feet||40 Feet||20 Feet||30 Feet||20 Feet||50 Feet||50 Feet|
|Best Feature||Remote control which allows you to launch the ball.||Dog motion sensor prevents your dog getting hit by a ball.||Simple but beautiful, a no nonsense machine.||A treat dispenser which to reward your dog for bringing back the ball.||Perfect for small door to play fetch indoors.||Low cost ball thrower perfect for indoor games of fetch.||A simple low cost alternative that will save your arms a lot of work!||A simple low cost alternative that will save your arms a lot of work!|
Who Are Ball Launching Machines Useful For?
While some people may joke about how lazy someone who purchases a ball throwing device is there are actually many circumstances in which one of these machines can be invaluable.
Most ball throwing machines will be no match for a strong throwing arm so you may ask who would bother getting one.
Ball firing machines are fantastic for people who have lost limbs, suffer from paralysis, muscular weaknesses or extreme physical tiredness.
They are also great for both elderly dog owners who may otherwise struggle to give their dog adequate exercise for busy households where from time to time there is simply insufficient time to take the dog out.
If you know anyone who would fit into any of these groups then a ball shooter could make a great gift!
iFetch Too Interactive Ball Launcher for Dogs
The iFetch Too is a stylish well designed ball launching machine that can fire tennis balls 10, 25 or 40 feet depending on which setting you choose, you can even set the iFetch to randomly select a different launch distance each time to keep your dog guessing.
iFetch Too Battery Life
The iFetch Too is powered by an inbuilt rechargeable battery which lasts up to 300 throws before requiring a recharge (more than enough to complete exhaust your dog!). To recharge it you simply plug it into the mains using the provided charging cable. It will take from 2-8 hours to recharge your iFetch (depending on how spent the batteries are)
The iFetch Too is designed to work with standard sized tennis balls which officially should have a diameter of 2.57–2.70 inches (according to the International Tennis Federation), however it will work fine with any ball that has a diameter between 2.4-2.7 inches. This product comes with 3 standard sized iFetch branded tennis balls included.
Measuring 12 x 13.5 x 13.5 inches and weighing 8.8lbs the PetSafe is easily portable and comes with two standard sized tennis balls.
The PetSafe features nine different distance settings, significantly more settings than many other ball throwing machines. These settings can be adjusted using the ‘Tennis Ball Knob’ on the side of the launcher. It can launch the ball up to 30 feet (nine metres) depending on which setting is selected.
The PetSafe also features six settings which allow you to adjust the angle at which the ball is thrown using the ‘paw dial knob’. This lets you adjust the angle up to 45 degrees making it ideal for dogs that like to jump and catch balls in the air.
Dog Motion Sensor
The PetSafe has a dog motion sensor on the front of it which can tell when your dog is within seven feet, it won’t fire the ball if it detects any motion in the firing range it will pause for around 5 seconds to allow time for your dog to move. This is a useful safety feature however for more excitable dogs it can be quite an irritating feature which will necessitate additional training to teach your dog not to excitedly dance around in front of the machine while waiting for the ball to fire.
GoDogGo Ball Throwing Machine
The GoDogGO is a great outdoor ball throwing device which features a throwing remote control and a variable ball release timer.
Weighing 11lb (boxed) and measuring 14″ x 15″ x 18″ the GoDogGo features three distance settings which will launch the ball up to a maximum distance of 40 feet. It also allows you to load up to 17 standard sized tennis balls into it, meaning that you can quickly launch them one after the other so that your dog will get a high intensity workout.
Being able to load 17 balls into it also means it is ideal for using with multiple dogs.
One thing to be aware of with this ball machine is that it has a particularly high angle of ball release which unfortunately makes it unsuitable for indoor use.
Variable Ball Release Timer
The GoDogGocan be set to run on an automatic timer which allows you to set the intervals between ball release. The ball launch mechanism won’t run unless there is a ball loaded in the machine so once your dog has been trained to return the ball to the hopper then it is possible to allow your dog to play independently with it.
It also features a remote control which you can use to fire the ball when you want to, this can add a bit of fun interaction to using the machine.
iDogmate Midi Tennis Ball Thrower
Weighing in at a diminutive 9.4 lbs and measuring 13.5″ x 13.5″ x 10″ the bright green and white iDogmate Midi is the larger version of the iDogmate Mini which is (obviously) designed for smaller dogs.
As with most ball throwing machines the iDog allows you to specify the distance which you would like the ball to fire. There are five settings at 10ft, 20ft, 33ft and 50ft. The 10ft setting is ideal for playing fetch indoors.
The iDogmate comes with 3 standard sized tennis balls, a remote control and a handy bag to carry everything in on a walk.
iDog Midi Remote Control
The iDog remote control allows you to control the release of the balls, turn the ball throwing machine on and off and adjust the throwing distance so that your dog doesn’t anticipate where the ball is going to land each time.
The ability to adjust the launching distance using the remote control is a particularly handy one which, as far as we are aware, is unique to the iDog Midi.
iFetch Original Dog Ball Thrower
The iFetch Original is the older sibling of the previously mentioned iFetch Too. Smaller in size and with a shorter throwing range than the iFetch Too the iFetch Original is ideal for small dogs and with it’s three distance setting of 10ft, 20ft and 30ft it is ideal for indoor games of fetch.
The iFetch Original comes with three balls included, it runs on 6 6 C-cell batteries and can also be powered by it’s AC adaptor.
While not packed with any particularly exciting or innovative features the iFetch Original is one of the best selling automatic ball throwing machines for good reason; it is simple and effective. It does its job effectively and well.
Playball Automatic Ball Launcher & Thrower
The Playball automatic ball launcher is an affordably priced machine made by Couch Potato. It features a wide opening which makes it easier for your dog to return its balls and it also comes with three yellow balls that all come branded and saliva resistant.
The Playball comes in a simple red design which can either be plugged into a wall for indoor use or can use 6 x rechargeable AA batteries when being used outdoors (these, unfortunately, need to be purchased separately).
It has three settings with which you can adjust the distance which the ball is launched. Compared to some of the other launchers on here the distance is fairly unremarkable with the ball going no more than 20 feet, the Playball Launcher is, therefore, most suitable for indoor use with small dogs.
When you purchase the Playball Launcher you will receive:
- The Playball Launcher Machine
- Three balls
- A Power Adapter (110 or 240 volts)
- The Manual
BallReady Interactive Dog Ball Thrower (& Treat Dispenser!)
The BallReady is the result of a successful Indiegogo campaign, which combines the two things your dog loves most, treats and balls, to create the ultimate canine entertainment machine.
The BallReady can be loaded with treats and set to dispense a few treats everytime the ball is successfully returned…as you can imagine dogs will get the hang of this far more quickly than other devices once they realise that treats are available!
The Ballready allows you to adjust the serving size and feeding schedule so that the amount of food dispensed is appropriate for your dog. You can dispense a full meal from the BallReady if you wish, this means that your dog is encouraged to exercise to get fed, which is no bad thing.
The BallReady has indoor and outdoor modes available, on the outdoor mode the ball can be launched up to 5 metres, this is a reasonable distance for a small dog but is perhaps a bit inadequate for larger dogs.
Paws & Pals BazooK-9 Ball Shooter
The spring loaded gun comes with two tennis balls and features nine different power settings which can be adjusted depending on how much power you want from it. Setting number nine will stretch the spring out as far as possible and therefore shoot the ball the maximum distance of around 40-50 feet when the trigger is pressed.
Lower power settings such as 4-5 can be used to shoot the tennis balls up your stairs.
The range on BazooK-9 isn’t particularly impressive and could easily be beaten by someone with a decent throwing arm, however if you’re looking for something which is easy to take with you on walks and which will save your arm then the Paws & Pals BazooK-9 tennis ball gun is a good option at a very reasonable price.
Hyper K9 Kannon Ball Launcher
The design and way in which it functions is very similar to the BazooK-9 with nine spring power settings. However as with the BazooK-9 the amount of power you get out of it is fairly disappointing, you can throw a ball further by hand without much trouble.
The main difference is that it features hands-free ball pickup, simply place the nozzle over the ball on the floor and you will be able to pick it up from the floor and re-shoot it. This is a handy feature for anyone who isn’t keen on getting dog slobber all over their hands (who likes dog slobber right?!).
How To Teach Your Dog To Use An Automatic Ball Thrower
Getting your dog used to using a dog ball throwing machine independently is just a matter of time and patience. All dogs love to play fetch so they will be highly motivated to master the use of a machine which promises them unlimited games of fetch!
Before starting on any training plan ensure that you understand exactly how your automatic ball throwing machine works, different models will have different nuances and ways of operating which it is important that you understand so that you can train your dog to use it effectively.
To train your dog to use your ball launcher of choice simply follow the steps below (obviously you will need to keep repeating the cycle until your dog works it out and is comfortable with it’s new ball thrower):
- First teach your dog to stand to the side of the ball launcher before it fires (this is important as some machines have a safety feature which prevents them from firing if they detect the dog directly in front of their firing mechanism) this can easily be done using some treats.
- When you dog chases and retrieves the ball encourage them to drop the ball directly into your hand in exchange for a treat. Ensure that your hand is placed above the throwing machine for the exchange.
- After a few training sessions they should get the hang of dropping it directly into the ball thrower without help from you.