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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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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?
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
This is all about reinforcing desired behaviour in your dog. You can use treats or a clicker if your dog is familiar with it.
With the launcher switched off, when your dog approaches it, reward them with praise, treats, and clicks.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Repeat. Reduce the number of treats as you go, building the clicks and commands.
With the launcher switched off, stand next to it, and throw the ball for your dog.
Still with the launcher switched off, pop the ball into it, then manually throw it for your dog.
Add in commands such as ‘drop it’ or ‘bucket’ when you drop the ball in the launcher, adding ‘fetch’ when you throw it.
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.
When your dog returns the ball, say ‘drop it’ and give them a treat and praise.
Encourage your dog to drop the ball into the basket, use the command ‘drop it’ or ‘basket’ and give a treat.
With your dog a safe distance, launch a ball.
When you dog picks it up, praise them - make this an entertaining game.
Continue playing, moving your dog closer to the machine, but not in front. Get them to return the ball to you by the machine.
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.
When your dog returns the ball, say ‘drop it’ and give them a treat and praise.
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!