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Dog Ball Launchers — Automatic vs. Manual Throwers

Breeding Business is passionate about all sorts of domesticated pets. They have written dozens of articles across the web.
Published on
Wednesday 4 May 2016
Last updated on
Tuesday 9 May 2023
automatic dog ball launcher
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A dog ball launcher falls into one of two distinct categories. The cheapest and most common ones are manual dog ball throwers requiring you to be actioned. And the Ferrari of ball games for dogs, the automatic ball launcher that can operate autonomously.

Both types of launchers are amusing and do indeed promise long hours of fetching and playtime for both the dog and the human. The regular thrower is for those who enjoy bonding with their dog around a tennis ball, while the automatic thrower is more for busy owners who still want their dogs to stay active on their own.

Whether you have little strength, you are senior or you just want your dog to run as far as possible, launching the ball with our own hand will quickly become a burden. A painful one at that. Leaving home with the intention of playing for hours and cutting the session short because our shoulder just can’t cope with another launch. We’ve all been there!

A good ball launcher is one that will allow you to throw the ball to the desired distance effortlessly. Now, they come in different shapes and forms, colors and sizes, but the bottom line remains the same. There are three main models in dog ball launchers and each has its pros and cons.

tennis balls
What dog doesn’t love its owner to throw the ball?

Regular Ball Throwers For Dogs

— Our Choice: Chuckit! Classic 26M Launcher

We all had a normal ball thrower in our hands. They are these long plastic sticks that grab the tennis ball and allow you to throw it with ease, and usually far enough.

Personally, I stopped using these basic ball launchers because all of them simply turned into chew toys for my dog. They never survived the few minutes of gnawing they all went through.

The big plus here is the price: it’s made of more or less durable plastic so it’s cheap. If it breaks, it’s ok, you can buy another. If you dislike buying cheaply built items, then you most likely won’t be thrilled by these throwers.

If you intend to play for a while, it may still be bothersome for your shoulder and arm; it still requires you to make somewhat of an effort that once repeated enough times can be tiring, too. This is particularly the case for elderly owners.

This Chuckit Classic ball thrower has been a lifesaver for me as I have problems with my throwing prowess and own a GSD who can’t get enough of ball chases. Amazingly enough a ball can be thrown a considerable way by even the weakest arms and coupled with the Chuckit balls the dogs have a truly great time ( I think the owner does too!! )

So if you have insatiable ball chasing dogs get one of the throwers – you won’t be disappointed.

The Upgraded Dog Ball Launcher

— Our Choice: Nerf Dog Tennis Ball Blaster

BazooK-9 Tennis Ball Launcher Gun.
Action time with two dogs and the BazooK-9 Tennis Ball Launcher Gun!

Easier to operate than basic ball launchers for dogs, these upgraded models require very little effort and do throw the ball very far.

These upgraded throwers are commonly weapon-looking and are amazingly effective. Perhaps it is the child within me that is all excited to travel back in time a few decades ago but this is just so cool.

OxGord is a trusted brand by consumers when it comes to pet accessories. Pull back the rear rod for travel distance adjustment and watch with joy when your dog returns with the ball. The BazooK-9 Launcher Gun is very easy to pull and handle. It uses spring technology that barely feels like you are pulling a lever.

The BazooK-9 is extremely easy to use.

  • Pull back on the charging handle.
  • Pull the trigger (a kid can do it easily).
  • The spring-loaded mechanism will fire the tennis ball out of the barrel.
  • The ball can be picked up from the ground by the barrel or manually placed into the barrel.
  • Reload the ball and keep on playing.

The BazooK-9 has been a lot of fun around my home. My husband and I have recently gave each one of our two oldest children their very own dog. We purchased the BazooK-9 as a way for the kids to play and exercise their pets. So far, their dogs have gotten a lot of exercise.

My kids have no issues with the tension of cocking the BazooK. I honestly couldn’t tell you how far the ball launches but it goes a good distance. The dogs will bring the balls right back and we will continue this cycle for a while. My kids have a blast, their dogs love it and everybody has a great time.

This is so much fun for the dogs, I would suggest putting a bunch of glittery stickers all over it so that it is obvious from afar that it is a toy. I would hate to see you and your dogs miss out on the fun of this due to racial profiling or a worried neighbor.

Automatic Dog Ball Launchers

— Our Choice: iFetch Interactive Ball Thrower for Dogs

Some of us just don’t have the energy to play fetch with our dogs. it’s factual. Some smart people created automatic ball launchers for dogs so our pooch can keep on playing for as long as he or she wants…… without requiring our presence!

iFetch Ball Launcher for Dogs
The famous iFetch Dog Ball Launcher. A beautiful device.

Now, you can imagine than with dogs and without supervision, the manufacturers had to work on some specific features to make these devices useful. The main one is a motion detector to pause the machine whenever the dog is standing in front to avoid accidents. The mechanism from the moment the ball is dropped in until it is thrown out has to be near-perfect. The settings for both distance and angle have to be straightforward to change.

Once you’ve sorted these, it makes buying an automatic ball launcher a no-brainer. However, not all manufacturers decided to focus on all of these must-have. Instead, some went all-in with their design while others simply forgot about safety features. We’ve written a full review here.

iFetch’s Design Is Elegant — Round, bi-colored, it kind of looks like a UFO that landed on your floor. When you compare it to other ball launchers, you have a little gem here. The throwing range is managed using the button at the front and is elegantly using three LEDs for you to see what you chose.

iFetch Runs On Battery Mode & Main Socket — Many people use it indoors and set it up to throw at 10ft (3m) so they can easily plug it to their main socket, but what about those who want to use iFetch outside? Don’t you worry, it can work on a battery mode (included and rechargeable) and after testing, iFetch can throw balls for approximately 30 hours on a fully charged set of 6 c-cell batteries.

Three Launch Distance Settings — Whether your dog is a hardcore runner or your flat is a tiny studio, you may have different preferences and iFetch made sure it could cater to all! You can set the launch distance to 10 feet, 20 feet, or 30 feet (3, 6 or 9 meters.) Press the button to cycle through the three different distance settings.

iFetch Too For Large Dogs — You asked for it, it is coming very soon! iFetch is great for all dogs, iFetch Too will focus on larger dogs, using regular-size tennis balls and longer throwing distances at 10, 24 or 40 ft (3, 7 or 12 m.)

Battery Saving For More Fetching — Once your set the distance, the light will stay on for roughly 30 seconds and then turn itself off, but don’t worry, the iFetch remains in standby mode and remains available for play. As soon as a ball is dropped in the funnel, the game starts automatically.

Training Tips & Videos — The team from iFetch is offering amazing videos to show you how to train your dog to use iFetch alone. The lesson is well explained, the tips are useful, and overall, it shouldn’t take long for your dog to get the gist. See below for the links to the training videos.

Award-Winning Product — “iFetch won second best in the new products category at the 2014 Global Pet Expo, and with 3,000 products, that’s a big honor.” said Fox News. Or The New York Times, saying “…made for relentless, fetch-obsessed canines… most dogs are driven to ecstasy by the device.” We confirm!

Let me break it to you: you cannot use regular-size tennis balls with iFetch. iFetch has been designed for both indoor and outdoor use hence it only accepts miniature 40mm or 1.5 inches in diameter tennis balls. Unlike what the official website states, it is NOT the same size as most miniature tennis balls you can get in pet stores or Amazon. We highly recommend you to buy an extra set of official iFetch Balls just to be on the safe side. iFetch Too, however, uses regular tennis balls.

Picking the right dog ball launcher depends mainly on how much do you want to be involved yourself. If you are fully committed and enjoy playing fetch with your dog, use a regular dog ball thrower. If you just want your dog to play while you’re busy living your own life, you do want to look at the iFetch automatic ball launcher.

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