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Best Dog Ball Launcher | The Overview

OUR #1 PICK

The Best For Quality

iFetch Too Interactive

  • Distance adjustment using touch button
  • Just the right size for herding
  • Uses any standard size tennis balls


  • Making sure your furry friend gets their exercise needs met can be a challenge. Especially if you have one of the more hyper breeds such as those from the herding, working and sporting groups.

    For these guys, walking around the block just isn’t going to cut it!

    Also, if you have a pocket pet such as a Dachshund, Jack Russell Terrier or Cocker Spaniel – you probably already know they can get overweight quickly if under exercised.

    Dr. Sara Redding Ochoa | Doctor Of Veterinary Medicine


    Sara is Wileypup’s Veterinarian Adviser and helped compose this article to ensure the information is up to date and accurate. For more information on Sara click here


    One of the best ways to help your canine burn off some energy without wearing yourself out is the age-old game of fetch, and what better way to play fetch than using an aid like automatic ball launchers.

    This article will review the best dog ball throwers that can give you tons of tossing distance without wear and tear on your shoulder.

    Bonus – If you are not aces at throwing long distance, these interactive ball launchers will definitely give you the edge you need to toss a ball for as much as 100-200 feet! A vastly different option to most interactive dog toys, and one I'm sure your pup will love.

    Frankly, for many of these contraptions (we're talking about the automatic ball launchers variety here), you do not even have to get up out of your lawn chair to enjoy playing with your dog at the end of a hard day. Sit back, have a drink and let your dog play until they're is ready for a quiet evening.

    We will be looking at three major categories of the top dog ball launchers.

    Here is the layout of this review so you can jump right to the category that you are most interested in:

    Best Automatic Tennis Ball Machine for Dogs

    Best Handheld Shooter Style Ball Launcher for Dogs

    Best Manual Dog Ball Throwers and Chuckers


    Dog Ball Launcher | Safety Precautions

    There are a few safety precautions to keep in mind when using ball throwers, particularly the automatic dog ball launchers variety.

    Since these models throw the ball out with considerable force, and because it will be somewhat instinctive for your canine to put their face right were the ball comes out, you will need to follow some guidelines to safely use the automatic ball thrower for dogs.


    Supervise Play 

    Although some manufacturers market that their automatic dog ball launchers are great to use while you are not at home, it is critical that if you go this route you spend plenty of time training your pup to use the machine safely.


    Train them to wait in a safe position

    Before just setting the machine to automatic mode and walking away, make sure that your canine companion learns to wait next to or behind the interactive ball launcher, not directly in front of the launcher.

    Some dogs have been injured by balls flying out of the automatic dog ball launcher while they had their face pointed into the chute.


    How to teach the right position 

    After your pup puts the ball in the hopper, turn it off, praise them, get them in the right position, then turn it back on.

    The ball toss is the reward. With 20-30 repetitions of this, your canine is likely to “automatically” take the right position, assuming it is critical for the interactive ball launcher to work.


    Best Dog Ball Launcher

    Best Automatic Ball Launcher

    IMAGE

    PRODUCT

    FEATURES

    RATING

    Small Dog Pick - iFetch Interactive for Small Dogs

    • Adjustable range
    • Interactive for your pet
    • Has safety design

    Large Dog Pick – iFetch Too Interactive for Large Dogs

    • Distance adjustment using touch button
    • Just the right size for herding
    • Uses any standard size tennis balls

    Remote Control Pick - IDOGMATE Big Dog Ball Launcher

    • Variety of range settings
    • Automatic shut off feature
    • Operates with remote control

    Treat Dispensing Pick - Paws & Pals Automatic Dog Ball Launcher Toy

    • Combines food distribution and fetch
    • Lots of customizing options
    • Encourages pet to step out of the firing line

    Small Dog Pick - iFetch Interactive for Small Dogs

    Weight: 2.5 lbs
    Dimensions: 14.8 x 10.1 x 11.4 inches

    This is our choice for the top dog ball launcher for small dogs. You will love the versatility and great design of this model. It is a popular choice for a reason – there are many stand out features that put this automatic dog ball launcher at the top of its class.

    First, the design is interactive. Your dog can actually make it launch balls to their heart’s content by learning to drop the ball in the hopper, which automatically triggers the next launch.

    The design of the hopper is at an angle such that your dog will naturally go to the back of the machine, opposite the launcher, to place the ball in the loading chute, making this one of the safer designs on the market.

    Because you can set the distance of the launch between 10’, 20’ and 30’, you can customize it for small yards and even for use indoors. It can operate on a power cord or batteries, so it transitions from indoor to outdoor use easily.

    In addition, your small dog will love this tennis ball launcher as they use mini tennis balls, 1.6” in diameter, perfect for the smaller mouths of toy and mini breeds like Dachshunds, Jack Russel Terriers, and Miniature Poodles. Perfect to play fetch with.

    The set comes with three balls, but you may find it convenient to have more balls handy. You can find replacement balls here.

    PROS
    • Adjustable distance settings and angle settings: 10, 20, or 30 feet makes it ideal for indoor or outdoor use
    • Interactive – Your dog makes it work by returning the ball to the intake
    • Mental and physical stimulation
    • Safety design so your dog goes behind the launcher to drop the ball in
    • Battery or power chord operation
    • Uses small, 1.6” tennis balls, perfect for little dog mouths
    • Family owned and operated company
    • One-year warranty
    CONS
    • A little pricier than some other ball launchers, although well in range for the quality
    • You can only use this with smaller dogs
    • You can only use this with smaller dogs

    Want to see the iFetch interactive ball launcher in action? Check this out:


    Large Dog Pick – iFetch Too Interactive for Large Dogs

    Weight: 12.4 lbs
    Dimensions: 14 x 13 x 12 inches

    Originally the iFetch was designed just for little dogs, however, due to popular demand, this larger version is now available.

    It is our top choice for an automatic ball launcher for large dogs for many of the same reasons. Owned and operated by three generations of the Hamil family of Austin, Texas, this is a product made with plenty of pride.

    This large dog version has a bit more range with 10, 25 and 40’ settings, making it useful for both indoor and outdoor use.

    This model of automatic dog ball launchers also lets you choose a random setting for distance which keeps you pup guessing what might come next – adding to the fun.

    The rechargeable batteries for outdoor use are built in – or run it from the outlet if you are planning to use it indoors.

    Because it uses standard sized tennis balls, you can find replacements easily, the perfect toy for a Pitbull.

    PROS
    • Adjustable distance settings and angle settings: 10, 25 and 40’ ranges
    • Just the right size for herding, working and sporting breeds obsessed with fetch
    • Uses any standard size tennis balls
    • Design encourages your canine to reload from the back for safety
    • Family business based in Austin, Texas
    • One-year warranty
    • Uses regular tennis balls
    CONS
    • A bit pricey, but worth the investment
    • Lower distance range than some other launchers

    Remote Control Pick - IDOGMATE Big Dog Ball Launcher

    Weight: 10.9lbs
    Dimensions: 13.4″ x 13.4″ x 9.8″

    If you are looking for a fun way to be more involved playing with your dog with an automatic dog ball thrower, this is a great choice.

    We will look at the major advantage of the remote control that comes with this model first, followed by some other features that make this model stand out from the competition.

    The remote control allows you to change the distance of the toss, reset the device, as well as turn it on and off, controlling when the ball will launch. This feature turns out to have quite a bit of functionality.

    For example, if you want to train your dog to stand next to the interactive ball launcher, instead of in front of it, simply turn the machine off, wait for your canine to get in position next to the machine, then turn it back on to launch. Think of the toss as the reward for assuming the correct position.

    Another great feature?

    Because you can set this to 10-50’, it can be used both indoors or outdoors. The same can be said about the power options. Being able to plug in or use the rechargeable batteries that give you up to 1,000 tosses really sweetens the deal.

    You can use any standard sized tennis balls in this machine, which is very convenient.

    Check these out if you are looking for a good deal on some very durable and non-toxic balls for use with this tennis ball launcher .

    PROS
    • Adjustable distance settings and angle settings: 10’, 20’, 30’ and 40’ for either indoor or outdoor use
    • To save power, there is an automatic shut off feature
    • Remote operated to keep your dog on her toes!
    • Uses standard, 2.5” tennis balls perfect for medium and large dogs and easy to replace
    • Uses power or rechargeable lithium ion batteries that come with the set
    • 1,000 balls per full charge on the battery
    • Lightweight – only 7.4 pounds
    CONS
    • Your dog can put the ball in the hopper from the same side as the launcher – requires training to be safe
    • Some have complained that the balls that come with this model are not durable enough. We recommend these which will work fine with this machine.

    If you want to see the iDogmate automatic dog ball thrower in action, here is a quick video:


    Treat Dispensing Pick - Paws & Pals Automatic Dog Ball Launcher Toy

    One of the best innovations in the dog ball launcher market in the last several years has been the addition of food dispensers. However, we reviewed cheaper models and were simply unsatisfied with their performance. They often just let the ball roll out, rather than actually toss it – boring!

    This choice by Paws an Pals offers treat dispensing versatility, outstanding ball tossing performance, and a decent price.

    What is so great about a food dispenser? Well in this case there are several advantages. First, it keeps your pup very interested in playing the game, even if they are not naturally all that interested in fetch. This provides excellent mental and physical stimulation. 

    Second, the food tray is on the back of the machine. This automatically moves your dog out of the firing line for the next ball, a great innovation! You can control the amount of food that is released each time. And, feel free to use your little dog’s regular food rations to make sure they stay trim. 

    Because it uses small 2” balls, this is a toy best suited for small and medium sized breeds. We hope Paws & Pals will consider a larger dog version soon!

    PROS
    • Combines food distribution and fetch for a self-rewarding game that actually teaches your dog how to play fetch!
    • Customize the distance of the toss for indoor and outdoor use: 10, 20, or 30 ft.
    • Feeding tray on the back encourages your dog to step out of the firing line while the next ball launches, for safety.
    • Battery or power cord operated for indoor/outdoor convenience
    • Wide hopper makes it easier for your dog to get the ball in
    • Affordable price and strong performance
    CONS
    • Uses mini balls, best for use with small – medium dogs

    Best Handheld Shooter Style Ball Launcher for Dogs

    IMAGE

    PRODUCT

    FEATURES

    RATING

    Hyper Pet K9 Kannon

    • Built in on-board storage for 2 balls
    • 75’ max distance for long runs
    • Less expensive than automatic models

    Paws & Pals BazooK-9 Tennis Ball Launcher Gun

    • Fantastic bargain
    • Fully adjustable
    • Lightweight

    HurriK9 Flying Ring

    • Lots of control over the distance
    • Made of a soft yet durable material
    • Shoulder friendly slingshot type launching

    Small Dog Pick - Hyper Pet K9 Kannon

    Love taking your little trooper out for some running and playing on a nice day? This shooter style ball launcher is great for small dogs that enjoy a good game of fetch.

    Another plus about shooter style launchers? It gets the kids amped up to play with the dog!

    This ball thrower for dogs operates on a simple principle:

    You pull back on the rear handle, place in a mini tennis ball, aim, then shoot. It will give you up to 75’ of distance without using any batteries.

    Plus, unlike the manual types of chuckers, you won’t be putting so much wear and tear on your shoulder with each toss.

    You may want to go ahead and pick up some extra balls if you decide to go with this model. You can find their own brand of replacements here, although most mini 1.5” tennis balls will work.

    The advantage of their proprietary balls is the fact that you know you are getting a real felted rubber ball with no harmful coatings, paint or gasses.

    This brand also makes a fine shooter style launcher for larger dogs.

    Even though it was not our favorite pick for large dogs, it is still a decent choice at a great price. You can learn more about it here.

    PROS
    • Built in on-board storage for 2 balls
    • Hands-free pick up – no more touching slobber balls
    • Will launch balls 75’ max distance for long runs that will wear your little dog out
    • Less expensive than automatic ball launchers models
    • Shoulder friendly – pull the handle back, load a ball, and pull the trigger
    • Kid friendly to encourage your children to get involved with the family dog
    • 2 non-toxic mini tennis balls come with this set, and replacements are inexpensive
    CONS
    • The gun style of this ball shooter could encourage some children to try to shoot at the dog with balls. Please supervise any children playing with this toy.

    Large Dog Pick - Paws & Pals BazooK-9 Tennis Ball Launcher Gun

    This ultimate fun bazooka style ball shooter for dogs is a great option for medium to large dogs that just love a regular size tennis ball and a vigorous game of fetch. It comes with two squeaky balls which add to the fun, but it also works with standard sized tennis balls for those serious chewers – you know who you are!

    The design has a build in slot to store two extra balls, handy for playing with multiple dogs or for those pooches that won’t drop the ball on a retrieve until you release the next ball.

    This shooter is very lightweight (2 pounds) and has a shoulder strap to make it even more convenient for travel. The distance is fully adjustable with the air pump action. Max distance is 75 feet, plenty long for even the most athletic of breeds.

    Get back out there and enjoy some fine weather with your furry friend!

    PROS
    • Fantastic bargain for those looking for a deal
    • Fully adjustable for up to 75’ of long distance range
    • Lightweight and it comes with a shoulder strap which is very convenient
    • Onboard storage for up to 2 extra balls
    • Comes with two squeaky balls
    • Compatible with standard tennis balls
    CONS
    • Even though it will work with standard tennis balls, they are heavier and you won’t be able to get the full 75” of distance

    Innovative Design Pick - HurriK9 Flying Ring

    We had to include the HurriK9 as one of our shooter style launchers for dogs because it has such a fun and innovative design.

    Instead of tossing balls, this slingshot style thrower works with large, soft rings that are easy to pick up and carry.

    They are brightly colored, made of non-toxic materials, and will float in water for canines that love the toss-and-swim fetch game.

    If you are worried about your canine chewing through the rings, there is a classic and a tough version of the rings so HurriK9 has you covered. In addition, get 100+ feet from every toss, wearing any hyper pup out in a hurry!

    The rings don’t get slobbery like tennis balls, frisbees can be too hard on their teeth, and balls have a tendency to get lost. These rings offer an innovative solution to all of those problems.

    This is not a great shooter style ball launcher for toy sized dogs. The rings are a bit large for dogs shorter than 12,” although some shorties will still figure it out and look adorable running with these rings.

    However, your large dog is sure to love them!

    In fact, if you have had some trouble getting your canine interested in fetch, this is our top pick for you. Dogs just seem to love these rings which are much more inviting to pick up and carry than a ball.

    Although quite durable, when you are ready to purchase additional rings, you can find them here.

    PROS
    • Lots of control over the distance, up to 100’
    • Good for indoor or outdoor play
    • The rings are made of a soft yet durable material that has been laboratory tested and is completely non-toxic
    • Floats and remain highly visible in water
    • Shoulder friendly slingshot type launching that does not require much force
    • Both classic and extra tough rings for the heavy chewer
    • 100% money back guarantee – 7 days so try it out as soon as you get it
    • Cheaper option than an automatic dog ball launcher
    CONS
    • A little bit of a learning curve to figure out the proper way to fire this bad boy
    • Very small dogs are likely to have trouble with the large rings

    Best Manual Dog Ball Throwers and Chuckers

    IMAGE

    PRODUCT

    FEATURES

    RATING

    Classic Chuck-It Ball Launcher

    • Very inexpensive option
    • Comes in multiple sizes
    • Lightweight, durable and easily portable

    Hyper Pet Ball Thrower

    • Easy on the shoulder
    • Holds up to 4 balls
    • Steel construction with chip and rust resistant coating

    Nerf Dog 1560 Dog Ball Thrower Stomper Style 

    • One of the most inexpensive throwers
    • Simple to use and fun
    • Up to 50+ feet for a nice long run

    Best Overall – Classic Chuck-It Ball Launcher

    The Chuckit line basically started the ball thrower revolution that has resulted in so many choices available on the market today.

    Their interactive ball launcher works without a single moving part. The only way it will stop working is if your canine gets a chance to chew it up and you have to get a new one!

    These manual dog ball launchers work on a very simple principle:

    By extending the length of the arc of your throw, the velocity of the toss is increased exponentially. The first time you use one of these simple toss-enhancing throwers, you will be shocked at how far you can throw the ball.

    They take a little practice to perfect using, mainly because you have to learn to quickly stop your tossing arc much sooner than you would for a regular toss.

    Once you get the hang of it, this is an option that is easy to take on the road, requires no batteries, and will last you a lifetime.

    Another advantage of choosing a Chuckit brand ball launcher is that they have a variety of specialty balls ready made to work with their throwers including: Whistlers, Squeakers, Glowers, and Breathers.

    Although best known for their standard tennis ball size thrower, there is also a version that is made with smaller pooches in mind.

    The Chuckit Small Ball Launcher is an option if you happen to have a pocket pet. The only downside to this model is that it uses 2” balls, which are pretty much only made by Chuckit.

    PROS
    • Very inexpensive ball launcher dog toy option– about $10
    • Comes in multiple sizes to optimize the ball to the size of any dog
    • Chuckit makes several specialty balls that can keep fetch interesting for your dog
    • Get plenty of distance with at least 3X your normal throwing power
    • Lightweight, durable and easily portable
    • Ergonomic design available in several lengths
    • The original in handheld ball throwers for dogs
    • Cheaper than the automatic ball thrower options
    CONS
    • Still requires some shoulder, arm and wrist strength to use
    • Will take you a few throws to get the hang of it

    Best Shoulder Saver – Hyper Pet Ball Thrower

    This manual thrower will give you the most possible distance without stressing your shoulders out.

    If you happen to have a herding, working or sporting breed dog, you know that the longer the toss, the faster your pup will get worn out.

    This is a slingshot style thrower that will allow you to shoot 200+ feet per toss.

    The innovative design also includes on board storage for up to 4 balls and it folds easily so that you can throw it in the car for a trip to the dog park. It comes fully assembled and ready for a nice day of running in the sun.

    Does your canine soak the ball while playing fetch?

    This ball thrower for dogs gives you hands free pick up so you don’t have to touch that nasty ball!

    Also, because of the open design (no chute) this is a very good option for fetch in dirty or sandy conditions such as at the beach.

    There is a slight learning curve to this manual dog ball launcher. However, once you get the hang of it you will appreciate that you can tailor the throw to any distance by adjusting the tension you use – giving you lots of options to keep your furry friend guessing!

    PROS
    • Easy on the shoulder ball launcher dog toy option, throw all afternoon long!
    • Holds up to 4 balls for on board storage
    • Steel construction with chip and rust resistant coating
    • 200+ feet per toss, one of the longest throws on the market
    • Collapsible design for storage and portability
    • Total control over distance
    • More cost effective than some of the automatic ball thrower options
    CONS
    • Pricier than other handheld manual throwers
    • Slight upfront learning curve

    Foot “Stomp” Design Pick - Nerf Dog 1560 Dog Ball Thrower Stomper Style

    We wanted to feature this innovative design for a few reasons.

    First, it is from reliable toy manufacturer Nerf, a long-trusted name in toys for children. The construction of this ball thrower is solid, with durable thermoplastic rubber that will not get brittle if left outside.  

    It is also an innovative design that children are sure to enjoy – it works on foot power! Even young kids 5 or older stomp down on this launcher for 50+ feet of distance!

    If you are looking for a fun toy for the family pet and the kids, this is a great choice for you. It is probably the only ball thrower that will wear out the pooch and the tikes at the same time!

    Another benefit?

    It is very inexpensive. Coming in under $15, you just can’t go wrong. It also takes standard sized tennis balls so you can use it with the gear you already have.

    Totally portable, throw it in the car for camping trips or a trip to the lake. It would also make a fun birthday present!

    PROS
    • One of the most inexpensive tennis ball launchers on the market
    • Simple to use, and fun for the kids
    • Stomp activated – wear out your children and the family dog at the same time!
    • Uses standard sized tennis balls
    • Up to 50+ feet for a nice long run
    • Durable construction made from thermoplastic rubber that won’t get brittle with age
    • Can also be used by hand using the included pump frame
    CONS
    • Although they promise 75+ feet on the package, expect more like 50 feet

    Conclusion

    Here at Wiley Pup, we want to provide you with truly useful reviews so that you can find the best products and reliable information for your canine companion.

    We hope this review of the best dog ball launcher has been helpful.


    References

    1. Anna Burke (15 January 2019) How Much Exercise Does a Dog Need Every Day?: Retrieved from https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/how-much-exercise-does-dog-need/
    2. Kim Campbell Thornton (17 April 2012) 11 Tiny Dogs With Big, Bold Personalities: Retrieved from https://www.vetstreet.com/11-tiny-dogs-with-big-bold-personalities

    Sharon Elber (M.S. in Science & Technology) - Professional Dog Trainer

    Sharon is a professional dog trainer with over 10 years experience. She is also a professional writer that received her M.S. in Science & Technology Studies from Virginia Tech.

    For more info on Sharon click here

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