In a rush and just want my recommendation? I think the IDogMate Ball Launcher is a great choice.
Dog lovers are a special breed – we love our dogs so much, they’re part of the family. It’s important to us that they are happy and healthy, just like we want our kids to be. So in addition to proper nutrition, rest and health, dogs need exercise to stay physically and mentally fit.
Whether you play tug-o-war or throw and fetch, playtime fulfills these needs and strengthens the bond between you and your best mate. Here, we’ll take a look at the best dog ball launcher on the market so you and your hound can get to playtime.
In this article, I’m reviewing the following dog ball launchers.
- The IDOGMATE Big Dog Ball Launcher
- Hyper Pet K9 Kannon K2 Ball Launcher
- Chuckit Ultra Ball Launcher
- I-Fetch (and I-Fetch Too) Interactive Ball Launchers for Dogs
- PetSafe Automatic Dog Toy Ball Launcher
What Are the Benefits of Using a Dog Ball Launcher?
Many dog owners don’t have the strength to throw the ball far enough to make for a rousing chase. Believe it or not, shoulder injury can occur with repetitive, vigorous throwing action. Play can be interrupted if an owner tires quickly. A ball launcher enables the ball to go further and with better accuracy.
What to Look for in a Dog Ball Launcher
The answer to this depends on both the owner and the dog.
- If an owner is older or has physical limitations, an automatic dog ball launcher is the better option. Some launchers have a tray at the top where the dog can drop the ball when they return it, so play can continue with or without your help.
- If cost is a consideration, look at using a manual ball launcher – they’re far cheaper and there’s less to malfunction.
- Some dogs, such as Retrievers will want to run far to get the ball, whereas smaller and older dogs need a closer distance, so an adjustable distance setting is helpful.
- A launcher will most likely be outside, so it needs to be able to weather the elements.
- Battery or corded? The AC connection makes for longer playtime launch periods, but a cord in the grass can be a hazard. Some launchers are even rechargeable which may be your best bet if the higher price isn’t an issue.
What Problems Do I Need To Look Out For?
- You need to make sure you have sturdy balls. Tennis balls can be easily chewed and ripped.
- Make sure you have an adequate amount of balls; a wet or dirty ball can get caught in the mechanism and may break it.
- Check the reviews of owners with similar dogs to see potential problems of the unit.
Will I Need to Train My Dog to Use an Automatic Launcher?
You will need to do a small amount of training. Since an automatic launcher is a machine, it will most likely make a noise when you use it, so they will need to get used to the sounds. Your dog won’t be automatically attuned to catching a machine-launched ball as opposed to their owner throwing the ball. With encouragement, they will pick the game up quickly.
In this review, we will look at both manual and automatic ball launchers. The manual version, in addition to costing much less, is also a more physically interactive play method – Owner throws and dog catches and returns, so there’s a mutual back and forth. Automatic has its definite advantages as well.
Best Dog Ball Launchers
While there are many different options on the market, we want the best for our dogs. That’s why, through trial and error, we’ve come up with the best dog ball launchers that the market has to offer.
Our #1 ball launcher is rechargeable so all you have to do is plug it in when playtime is over. It does launch further if it’s plugged in. It has a large pan at the top and you can easily teach your dog to drop the ball in for re-launching.
This launcher has some unique features that make for less work and breakage. It comes with a remote so you have the distance adjustments right at your fingertips. And it has an automatic turn-off feature when inactive after a certain length of time.
The IDogmate has a patented inner chamber with arced wheels. The mechanism adjusts to the ball’s movements, allowing it to travel further. The mechanism also helps prevent balls from getting stuck in the machine. Since the unit is square-shaped, it’s more durable than many other units.
- Comes with 3 regular rubber tennis balls
- The square shape is sturdier
- Patented inner chamber
- Prevents balls from getting stuck
- Battery charge doesn’t last as long as your hound can
- The machine’s noise can scare smaller dogs
This will launch the ball up to an impressive 75 feet. The K9 Kannon comes with one ball which is about the same size as a tennis ball but is safe for dogs to chew.
The best feature of this toy is that you can pick up the ball without using your hands so you can avoid that slobbery feel or any other undesirable substance that the ball may collect. And you won’t be bending down repeatedly to pick up the ball so it’s less physically stressful for you.
The K9 Kannon even has a compartment where you can store extra balls. This is convenient if you take your dog on a field trip to the beach or other wide-open area, or if playtime lasts a while. And since it doesn’t have mechanical parts, it won’t make strange noises.
- More economical so it’s easily replaced
- Doesn’t make any noise so it won’t scare the dog
- Comes with ball scooper
- Only comes with one ball, and can’t use any other ball
- Not as durable as other options
The Chuckit is ideal for getting back to basics. It has an easy intuitive design – it’s a stem with a basket at the end to hold and launch the ball. And the thrower can use the basket to pick up the ball so they don’t have to lean down repeatedly.
This launcher comes in many different sizes so you can find the right size that works for your dog. Easy adjustments make the ball travel a distance appropriate for your dog. It’s small so it’s completely portable for playtime just about anywhere.
The launcher’s ball floats, so if you are by a body of water and it accidentally lands in said water, you (or your dog) will be able to see it and get it back.
- Has a comfy rubber handle
- You can use the included ball as well as regular tennis balls
- Comes in different sizes
- You may want to wear a glove to prevent blisters
- It might be hard to get the ball to go a good distance
This automatic launcher has different sizes, including the I-Fetch made especially for small dogs, who often get left out of the fun. There is also the I-Fetch Too for larger dogs.
You can adjust the distance of the launch depending on your dog’s needs. For a smaller dog or careful indoor use, you can set it for 10’. For bigger dogs and runners that go further, the smaller i-Fetch can be set for up to 30’, the larger unit up to 40’. It even has a random feature which launches the ball in different directions.
This unit is rechargeable, eliminating the need for either batteries or a cumbersome AC cord. It has a hidden compartment for ball storage. The i-Fetch and i-Fetch Too both come with three balls, and you can also use any standard tennis ball.
- Easy to use settings
- Comes with a one-year warranty
- Feature to sharpen dog’s reaction
- Goes through battery juice quickly if you don’t have it plugged in
- If the ball is damaged from chewing, the mechanism may not work properly
This ball launcher has a couple of really cool features you’ll want to see. It has a motion sensor so neither dog nor human will get smacked in the head with the (possibly slobbery) ball. It also has an auditory tone to let your dog know the ball is coming out soon.
The PetSafe launcher will throw between 8’ and up to 30’. You can adjust the settings, 9 different distances, and 6 angle settings. The unit can be used either indoors or outdoors and has both batteries and AC plug options.
You can use either standard tennis ball size or smaller balls. And it has a built-in timer so your dog won’t get exhausted from the back and forth running. The unit will turn off after 15 minutes, and then re-launch after a 15-minute break.
- Regular D batteries will keep its charge for a couple of months of use
- The unit is weather-resistant
- Includes a motion sensor
- 15 minutes may not be long enough to play before it pauses
- The ball may not go as far as it says
Overall, the IDogMate Ball Launcher has the best qualities you’re looking for in a ball launcher for playtime. Durability is an important factor, because the launcher will get a lot of use.
Don’t forget to supervise your hound with this type of machine. It’s very easy to over-work an enthusiastic hound if left to their own devices, and always make sure the ball is not too small for your particular hound.