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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

22 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
189 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best automatic dog ball launchers

Last Updated November 2019

Too busy to throw around the ball with Fido? Not to worry – an automatic dog ball launcher will keep your pup entertained without giving you tennis elbow.

For the high-energy dog who loves to fetch, an automatic launcher provides endless fun, indoors or out. Train your dog to bring the ball back to the launcher’s chute, and you can let the fun play out on its own.

Dogs need mental stimulation and exercise just like their human friends, but we know it’s not always possible to head out for long walks with your furry bud. Automatic dog ball launchers prevent boredom by keeping your pup busy while facilitating vigorous exercise.

Some canines will quickly recognize sounds the automatic dog ball launcher makes and will preemptively position themselves to catch balls as they are launched.

Key considerations

Before narrowing down your choice for an automatic dog ball launcher, consider the following.

Ball size

One size doesn’t fit all. Automatic dog ball launchers made to fit smaller balls may represent a choking hazard for your sizeable furry pal. Big dogs require a machine that can accommodate larger balls. Similarly, little dogs will have trouble trying to retrieve balls that are too big to fit in their mouths. Devices that can fit standard tennis balls are convenient since it’s easy to pick up replacements at any time.

Device size

Where do you plan on having a ball toss with Fido? If you’re heading to the park, you’ll need a portable launcher. If you plan on toting your dog’s new toy on your daily walks, choose a unit that doesn’t weigh more than five pounds.

Power source

While manual ball throwers exist, automatic options typically use battery power or require an outlet to function. Some even feature both options, so if you run out of fresh batteries, you can just plug the launcher into the wall to keep the ball-throwing action going.

Training required

An automatic dog ball launcher may seem simple enough to you. But look at it from your dog’s perspective. Is your pooch already semi-trained and sufficiently well-behaved to learn how to use this new toy?

Some dogs will catch on quickly, while others may need a bit more education on how to use a launcher. Are you prepared to put in the time to train your pup? If not, you may want to consider another toy for your dog. If you’re interested in an automatic launcher, but you’re worried about your dog getting the hang of it, consider taking a basic training course with your pup.

Versatile fun

Made for little dogs, the iFetch Interactive Ball Launcher is easy to use for both human and pooch. It works with AC power or batteries, so you can take it inside or bring it to the park. The throw distance is easily adjustable, and we like that it fits multiple balls at once.

Features

There are several features to consider as well when shopping for an automatic dog ball launcher.

Throw distance

Control the launch distance to maximize fun for your dog. Throw distance can range from as little as 10 feet to more than 30 feet. Having the option to adjust the distance makes it easy to play with your pup indoors and outside. A long throw distance, for instance, is not ideal for an indoor environment.

Throw angle

Add interest to games of fetch by choosing a unit that allows you to adjust the launch angle. Mix things up for your pooch, so he never knows where the ball will end up next. An adjustable angle is useful for playing in indoor environments, too.

Multiple-ball chute

Being able to load more than one ball at a time will ensure your dog can keep playing even if she hasn’t gotten the hang of returning the ball just yet.

Specialty balls

Some units come with balls that have unique qualities such as being saliva-resistant or extra soft so they won’t hurt your pup.

Motion sensors

Dogs should quickly realize that standing right in front of the launcher might not be the best idea, but some pooches may need a bit of extra help. Units with motion sensors help to protect you and your dog from accidents by preventing a ball launch if motion is detected in front of the machine.

Remote control

There’s no need to be next to the automatic dog ball launcher if you have a remote control. A launcher with a remote allows you to adjust the settings from the comfort of your deck or couch while your dog enjoys a game of fetch.

EXPERT TIP

Automatic dog ball launchers are not waterproof, so don’t leave them outside in the rain. We also recommend wiping the launcher down after each use. Saliva build-up might prevent balls from launching correctly or at all.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

Not fond of the balls included with your automatic dog ball launcher? You can use different balls if you like. Just make sure they’re the right size and that they fit inside the chute.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

Softer balls may prevent painful accidental launches to your pup’s face or body, but they’re also easier for your dog to destroy. Buy some extra balls to have on hand in case your pup becomes destructive or you lose balls to the neighbor’s yard.


Staff  | BestReviews

Price

Automatic dog ball launchers under $40 are not very durable. These lower-quality units are suitable for a few throw sessions but won’t last much longer than that. A budget thrower is a solid choice for the dog owner who isn’t sure whether this toy is a good fit for his pup.

Launchers in the $40 to $100 range are quality devices, but they are usually geared toward smaller dog breeds.

High-end launchers that cost over $100 are typically designed for larger breeds and can accommodate larger ball sizes.

Fetch for less

Easier on the wallet than other automatic dog ball launchers, the All for Paws Hyperfetch Ultimate Throwing Toy is available in two sizes. The larger option fits standard tennis balls, so you can easily replace them should your dog decide to tear them apart.

Tips

  • Teach your dog to fetch without the automatic ball launcher first.

  • After you introduce the ball launcher, keep training sessions short and sweet, but do them multiple times a day.

  • It will take some time for certain dogs to learn how to play with the launcher.

  • Your pet might be scared of this new machine, so don’t force it. Be gentle and patient.

  • Some manufacturers have videos to guide you in training your dog to use an automatic dog ball launcher.

Other products we considered

We carefully considered a variety of automatic dog ball launchers, but a few worthy alternatives didn’t make it into our top five. We like the iDogmate Mini Automatic Dog Ball Launcher for its randomization feature that keeps dogs guessing. With this setting, there’s no need for users to manually switch the setting between throws. This compact thrower is designed for small pups and is powered by a rechargeable battery. We also like the PetSafe Automatic Dog Ball Launcher’s audible alerts, which are a helpful training aid. The motion sensor is another nifty feature, which prevents the unit from launching balls if you or your dog is standing close by. Finally, we love the cute design of the Karmas Product Interactive Ball Launcher for Dogs. It’s an adorable unit for dogs and dog lovers.

Do you have a feline in your life with a lot of energy? Some cats enjoy playing with automatic dog ball launchers. If you decide to buy one for your kitty, just be sure to select a unit with smaller balls.

FAQ

Q. Are automatic dog ball launchers noisy?

A. Expect the launcher to generate some noise. If you have a dog who’s skittish or afraid of loud noises, it may take some time to get used to the sound these machines produce.

Q. How long should I let my dog play with an automatic dog ball launcher?

A. Some devices have an auto shut-off function that powers off the unit after about 15 minutes to prevent overexertion. We don’t suggest leaving your dog alone to play for hours on end. Supervision is essential, and it’s important to be aware of your dog’s body language.

Q. Do automatic dog ball launchers require any maintenance?

A. You’ll need to clean the machine and balls once in a while. Dog slobber will inevitably find its way inside the chute and a buildup of dirt and saliva may slow down the launcher.

Q. I found a deal on an automatic dog ball launcher, but it uses mini balls. Is this launcher okay for my large-breed dog to use?

A. We don’t recommend using a small launcher for a large-breed dog. Small balls are a choking hazard for dogs with big snouts. Keep playtime safe for your dog by choosing an appropriately sized unit.

The team that worked on this review
  • Jacob
    Jacob
    Editorial Manager
  • Katherine
    Katherine
    Editor
  • Katie
    Katie
    Editorial Director
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Steph
    Steph
    Writer

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