5 Best Automatic Dog Ball Launchers

Dogs love to play fetch, but often your dog’s stamina outlasts yours. These are the best automatic dog ball launchers that keep the game going and going!

dog with ball in mouth

So many dogs love to play fetch. A very simple yet highly engaging form or play fun for both the dog and owner.

It engages their natural hunting, chasing, and retrieving instincts, keeps them super fit and healthy, and is a great way for you to bond with your dog. 

However, if you have a large and/or very active dog, this game can go on for quite a while, and many owners find their stamina just can’t match up to that of their dog. 

We have the perfect way to keep the game going without compromising your joints – let a dog ball launcher take the strain. Here is our pick of the top auto ball launchers for dogs available right now.


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Our Recommended Automatic Dog Ball Launchers

In our opinion, these are the ball launchers that deserve your attention.

There's our overall favourite, the best value for money, and the best ball launcher for large dogs.

We review each in more detail down below.

Amazing Value

All for Paws Ball Launcher

  • Plastic
  • Works with AC adapter or with batteries
  • 3 balls included

Best for Big Dogs

iDogmate Automatic Launcher

  • Smart remote control
  • Rechargeable li-ion battery
  • 3 balls included



OUR TOP PICK


PetSafe Automatic Dog Ball Launcher


We love this Automatic Ball Launcher and it’s easy to see why it’s our top pick. 


Its versatile play settings – nine different distance settings and six different angle settings – mean you can tailor and mix up the game to keep your dog excited, challenged, and engaged.

 

With a mains power cord for indoor use, and 6D batteries for playing outside, this compact unit is water resistant for when the weather turns, but your dog still wants to play.



Holding three standard sized tennis balls, with two in the box when delivered, this dog ball launcher offers great options for solo or interactive play, has great safety and rest features to make sure your dog doesn’t overdo it while they’re having fun, and motion sensors to make sure neither of you are hit by unexpected launches.


You can even train your dog using this fantastic machine.


A beep will alert you both when a ball is detected and about to launch, teaching your dog to return the ball to the unit, listen for the beep, and get ready to fetch.


Pros

  • Flexible play. The different distance and angle settings mean this unit will always keep your dog interested.
  • Tennis balls. Holds standard sized tennis balls (or smaller) and is delivered with two in the box.
  • Outdoor and indoor. Water resistant and battery powered for outdoor use. Can be used indoors with the power adapter.
  • Safety. Rest mode ensures your dog gets enough rest during the game, and motion sensors protect people and animals nearby.
  • Warranty. Comes with a two-year warranty.

Cons

  • Noise. The machine does make a noise when it launches, and some dogs might be startled.

Bottom Line: This ball launcher from PetSafe is the clear winner for us. With customisable settings, safety sensors, and a built-in rest mode it ticks all the boxes for a safe and enjoyable play time!









Amazing Value


All for Paws Ball Launcher


Automatic ball launchers are not the cheapest way to treat your dog to a new toy.


So, if you’re looking for an option that won’t break the bank, you’ll love this dog ball thrower, which is our pick of the best budget-friendly dog ball machines.



Weighing in at only 100g, or 3.5oz, this lightweight, compact ball thrower for dogs is easy to take with you for playtime anywhere.


Suitable for use indoors and outdoors, it comes with a power adapter, or battery power option – batteries not included. 


This unit comes delivered with three mini-style tennis balls, and is suitable for indoor solo play when you’re not home.


Pros

  • Small dogs. Great for small dogs, as the smaller-sized balls fit their mouths comfortably.
  • Solo play. If you can train your dog to put the balls back in the machine, this makes a great game for indoor play, when you are not home.
  • Value. The most competitively priced launcher in our list.
  • Size. Small and lightweight making it portable and easy to store.
  • Balls. Comes with three mini-tennis balls, so you can get started immediately.

Cons

  • Balls. Only compatible with small or mini-tennis balls, which means you might have to stock up on new balls in case the three supplied go missing.
  • Noisy. Some dogs might be frightened of the noise when the balls launch.

Bottom Line: This automatic tennis ball launcher for dogs is perfect for smaller breeds. It's also great value for money and is much cheaper than some other ball launchers out there.






Best for Big Dogs


iDogmate Automatic Launcher 


This automatic dog ball launcher is at the pricier end of our recommendations, but with the extra features, tech, and patents involved in this one machine, it’s easy to see why. 


Where do we start?



It is a smart device with remote controls, so you don’t even need to bend down to change one of the many distance and angle settings that come with this launcher.


It has patented technology to stop the wheel jamming, and it is fully chargeable from the mains.


Once charged, it can launch up to 1,000 times, meaning you’ll never run out of battery mid-game, and the rechargeable battery is more environmentally friendly than single-use batteries.


Pros

  • Big dogs. Specifically designed for large dogs, heavier than 33lbs.
  • Balls. They recommend you use the special iDog Midi balls which are super-soft on mouths and have a red stripe so you can find and identify them, but you can also use standard tennis balls too. It arrives with two normal sized tennis balls, a rope ball and a sponge ball.
  • Easy to load. Once your dog gets the hang of it, the loading area is large, so easy to drop the ball into.
  • Settings. Lots of distance (but no angle settings) you can set it to random keeping your dog guessing.
  • Alerts. A beep lets you and your dog know when the ball is about to be launched.
  • Remote control. No need to bend down to fiddle with the settings.

Cons

  • Pricey. At the higher end of all the products in our list.
  • Size. This is a big unit, over 13.3 inches wide, and weighs in at 4.25kgs which is nearly 10lbs.
  • Safety. There aren’t any extra safety or rest features, so you will need to supervise your dog while playing.

Bottom Line: A great choice for larger dog breeds. However, it's not the most friendly on your wallet!







iFetch Ball Launcher


This dinky unit is perfect for the small dog in your life, although one Amazon reviewer said her Rottweiler loved it too.


Comes with its own set of three miniature tennis balls and a power adapter for indoor use, you can also fit batteries for playtime on the go.



It’s very simple to set up and use. Plug it in, or fit the batteries, switch it on, select the distance, drop in a ball, and watch it launch.


Pros

  • Size. This is a small unit, launching small balls, perfect for small dogs.
  • Noise. Seems to be quite quiet in comparison to some of the other launchers in the list.
  • Comes with comprehensive user manual to help you train your dog to use it safely

Cons

  • Balls. You need miniature iFetch balls to use the machine. Some reviewers report they are easily chewed, so might need replacing often, and are too small even for some small dogs. 






iDogmate


The second iDog entry in our list, this one is for your small and/or young dogs who weigh less than 14kgs, or 30lbs – about the size of a Beagle or Border Collie. 


With various distance settings and a random option, the ease of dropping the ball into the large funnel at the top, will soon make this lightweight launcher your dog’s favorite game.



Like our other iDog, this launcher has an environmentally friendly rechargeable battery, and once charged will release 250 times before recharging. 


Benefitting from the same patented wheel technology as the larger model, this launcher won’t jam, leaving your dog frustrated.


Pros

  • Balls. Comes with three customized balls ready to play. The small balls are perfect for small dogs and puppies.
  • Warranty. A hassle-free two-year warranty comes as standard. 

Cons

  • Balls. Only compatible with the customized balls delivered with the launcher.



Recommended: Never lose your dog again! Get a dog GPS tracker now.

dog playing with automatic dog ball launcher

Buyers’ Guide

Now you’ve had a quick look at our pick of the best dog tennis ball launchers available, what should you look out for when deciding which one to invest in?


Ball Compatibility

This is an important consideration, which sparks much debate amongst Amazon reviewers. 

Some dog ball throwing machines are only compatible with the balls supplied. 

In this case, a few balls are usually supplied with the machine, which sounds great. 

What happens though if your dog loses, chews, or slobbers on those balls?

You will be forced to buy new balls from the manufacturer, or balls with a similar spec if you can find them elsewhere, which could end up being expensive. 

If your dog is prone to losing or destroying balls, it might be best to look for a launcher that takes generic tennis balls, so you can use up your current stock or source your balls from cheaper alternatives.

dog playing with ball on the beach

Power Options

All the dog fetch machines in our list come with mains power and battery power options.

A couple even come with a rechargeable battery which you can charge from the mains, and play with until it needs recharging. 

It is essential when using the battery powered options to use the best quality batteries possible, otherwise the power of the machine will be affected, and your dog may be left feeling underwhelmed by the ‘launch’. 

If you’re using your launcher a lot outdoors, expect to factor in the cost of changing the batteries regularly. 

Rechargeable battery-powered automatic dog ball launchers are a great eco-friendly option.

These days, we are so used to charging our electronics at the wall, then unplugging them and using them, this seems like the most user-friendly option too.

dog beside a ball launcher


Settings

All our recommendations come with variable distance settings and some with different angle settings too – you can even randomize the launch to keep your dog interested. 

It is important to control the distance of your tennis ball launcher, especially if you’re using it indoors, if your dog is large and active, or if they get bored easily. 

Check out the remote-control options on the iDog launcher, if you would like to control the different settings from your chair.

Perfect if you have mobility problems of your own.

Recommended Reading: Check out our guide to treat dispensing dog toys next.

dog catching ball from ball launcher

Size

This includes the size of your dog and size of the launcher. 

Launchers themselves vary in size and weight from the largest in our list at 10lbs, or 4.25kgs, to the smallest at 3.5oz, or just 100g.

So, think about where you will use your launcher, where you will store it, and how often you will be moving it around. 

Next you need to think about the size of your dog and their activity level. 

Many launchers are made for specific dog size. This means they might not launch quite so far for shorter legs to chase, or they might come with smaller balls for smaller mouths.

Or they might pack some extra power and use standard tennis balls. 

Check out each model and how suitable they might be for your size of dog.

Features

Each launcher offers something different, and it’s up to you to decide which feature will make the most difference to you and your dog. 

The PetSafe Launcher has a range of impressive features to keep you and your dog safe and comfortable when using it, with a rest mode to make sure your dog doesn’t over-exert themselves, and motion sensors to ensure no one takes a close range hit when loading the machine. 

Most of the launchers have a beep and a motion sensor, so you can train your dog to use the machine themselves for solo play when you’re not around. 

The iDogmate for Big Dogs has a remote control and technology to stop it sticking and jamming, and some are water-resistant, so you can continue to play outdoors even when the weather turns.  

Decide which features are important to you before splashing out. 

If using these products indoors, make sure you have it on the right setting to prevent accidents.

dog playing on lawn

How to Train Your Dog to Use an Automatic Ball Launcher

As with any new toy, your dog might be a wary of the ‘stranger’ in their house, so it’s important you introduce them to it slowly, patiently, and with lots of encouragement. 

Once you have chosen your launcher, unpacked it, and set it up on the appropriate setting for your dog and the space you are in, you are ready to start training.

In this guide, we look at three different methods to get your dog playing safely with the launcher.

1. Reinforcement

This is all about reinforcing desired behaviour in your dog. You can use treats or a clicker if your dog is familiar with it. 

Step one

With the launcher switched off, when your dog approaches it, reward them with praise, treats, and clicks. 

Step two 

Once your dog is happy, turn the machine on allowing it to make a noise. Give lots of praise and treats when it does, so your dog associates the noise with positive things. 

Step three

Once your dog is used the noise in standby, get them to come close to the launcher, again lots of praise and treats, then load and launch a ball. Let them retrieve it, again with lots of praise. 

Step four

When they bring the ball back, encourage them to drop the ball for a treat. Add ‘drop it’ command, a click, and lots of praise. 

Step five

Encourage your dog to drop the ball into the hopper, using your hand to show them. Once they do it, add the commend ‘drop it’, treat, praise, and click. 

Step six

Repeat. Reduce the number of treats as you go, building the clicks and commands.


2. Association

Step one

With the launcher switched off, stand next to it, and throw the ball for your dog. 

Step two

Still with the launcher switched off, pop the ball into it, then manually throw it for your dog. 

Step three

Add in commands such as ‘drop it’ or ‘bucket’ when you drop the ball in the launcher, adding ‘fetch’ when you throw it. 

Step four

Bring your dog near the side of the machine, load it with one ball and launch. Use the command ‘fetch’ to encourage your dog to retrieve. 

Step five

When your dog returns the ball, say ‘drop it’ and give them a treat and praise. 

Step six

Encourage your dog to drop the ball into the basket, use the command ‘drop it’ or ‘basket’ and give a treat.


3. Reverse

Step one

With your dog a safe distance, launch a ball. 

Step two

When you dog picks it up, praise them - make this an entertaining game. 

Step three

Continue playing, moving your dog closer to the machine, but not in front. Get them to return the ball to you by the machine. 

Step four

Continue playing until your dog is next to the launcher at the start of each game. When they return, make sure they sit and drop the ball before you begin again. 

Step five

When your dog returns the ball, say ‘drop it’ and give them a treat and praise. 

Step six

Finally, encourage your dog to drop the ball into the basket, using your hand to show them. Add the command ‘drop it’ or ‘basket’ and give a treat. Practice.


Do you own any of these auto ball launchers for dogs? We'd love to hear about your experience down below in the comments section!

We'd love to hear what you think in the comments section!

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