If your dog loves to play fetch, it can get tiring to throw the ball over and over. The best ball launchers for dogs ease some of your workload by making it easier for you to launch that ball into the air. When you’re shopping around, select a launcher based on the level of involvement you want to have — automatic options propel the ball for you with little effort on your part, while manual launchers require you to load the ball and propel it yourself with your hands or feet. Manual launchers give you more control and time to bond with your pet, even though they can require a little more effort. But no matter how involved you are in the game, it’s recommended for safety that you still supervise your dog during play and take the time to warm them up first to avoid painfully straining their muscles, joints, and cartilage.
Automatic launchers are great options when you want to tire your pet out without exhausting yourself, and they can often be used both indoors and outdoors. You’ll have to teach your dog how to drop the ball into the machine if you don’t want to put it in yourself, but once they’ve mastered that, it should be easy to use. All you typically have to do is turn on the ball launcher, set the distance level, then sit back and supervise.
When you want to be more involved in the action, look for a manual ball launcher. Two of the most common types are trigger launchers and stomp ball launchers. Trigger ball launchers are usually shaped like guns or cannons and feature a button to shoot the ball into the air. Stomp ball launchers are placed on the ground — after you load it with a ball, you have to step on it to propel the ball. Finally, if you simply want to make physically throwing a ball a little easier (and avoid having to touch dog slobber), a ball thrower-style launcher is essentially a cup on the end of a curved stick that can help you throw the ball further and faster.
Here’s my roundup of the best ball launchers for dogs to level up your pup’s next round of fetch!
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1. A Fan-Favorite Automatic Ball Launcher
The iFetch ball launcher is the top pick if you want an automatic tennis ball launcher for your dog. This machine comes in models designed for small and large breeds. The small version includes three mini 1.6-inch diameter tennis balls, but you can use your own balls within that size range as well. The large version comes with three standard-size tennis balls (about 2.5 inches in diameter) and can also be used with other similarly sized balls. The small model can be set to throw balls 10, 20, or 30 feet away, while the large model can throw balls 10, 25, or 40 feet.
Your dog can play with it indoors or outdoors under supervision. The iFetch for small dogs uses six C-cell batteries or can be charged via a power cord. The larger model runs on a built-in rechargeable battery that can get up to 300 launches between charges for plenty of playtime. It also includes a one-year warranty.
Positive Amazon reviewer: "I’ve had my iFetch for almost three years, still works like new. We play at least 4-5 times a week. Both my dogs love it more than anything, and they have gotten great at loading the machine by themselves and catching the ball in their mouth as it shoots out. A GREAT source of exercise for them and a great, reliable product! Thank you, iFetch."
2. A Stomp Ball Launcher For Outdoor Use
For some height in your next round of fetch, this two-pack of Nerf Dog ball launchers is worth considering. The stomp launcher is easy to use — just feed a ball into the chute and press down with your foot to launch your ball. It can throw balls up to 75 feet, and its chute is angled up so the ball gets a lift, making it perfect for outdoor play and teaching your pet new high-flying tricks. You can alter the distance the ball goes to accommodate smaller or larger spaces by how hard you stomp (don’t stomp as hard, and the ball won’t go as far). Only one tennis ball is included, but you can use any standard size tennis ball with it. This stomper is made of sturdy plastic, so it’s durable. The Nerf dog launcher is recommended for medium and large breeds.
Positive Amazon review: "love it. It shoots a tennis ball a lot further than I ever could"
3. A Trigger Ball Launcher With Hands-Free Ball Pickup
If you’re looking for a trigger ball launcher, the Hyper Pet K-9 Kannon is a great option. Load it up with a tennis ball, pull the lever to adjust your launch distance, and then press the trigger to shoot the ball up to 60 feet. Once retrieved, there’s no need to bend over to pick up the ball with your hands, either — it offers a hands-free pick-up design. The full-size launcher works with any standard tennis ball, and it comes with one ball to get you started. It’s best for medium and large breeds of adult dogs. There’s also a mini launcher that works with mini tennis balls for smaller dogs.
Positive Amazon review: "This thing is amazing! […] The simplicity of the design means less parts to break or wear out. And you can choose how far you want to launch the ball by how far you pull the plunger back. This also allows you to load and shoot the ball with out actually touching it at all. If you have a slobberer like we do that is a great feature!"
4. A Cheap Manual Ball Thrower
The Chuckit! ball launcher is budget-friendly and fun to use. Ideal for outdoor use, its 25-inch handle extends your reach, enabling you to throw the ball farther. According to the manufacturer, it’s possible to toss a ball up to 140 feet with this model, which has a 2.5-inch ball and is best suited for medium-sized adult dogs. However, you can also get it in smaller and larger sizes to suit your pet, such as the Chuckit! Mini for smaller breeds and the Chuckit! Pro, which is compatible with larger balls for large and extra-large breeds. The handle features an ergonomic design that makes it easier to grip, and the unique scoop hook allows you to pick up the ball without bending down or touching it with your hands. Made of sturdy plastic, this manual launcher is sturdy and easy to clean as well.
Positive Amazon review: "Amazing! I can throw the ball a lot further without straining my arm. And I don’t even have to bend over to pick up the ball. I play fetch with my dog to exercise him. I love that he can run further and longer each time I throw the ball."
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