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Best Dog Ball Launchers: Keeping Your Buddy Busy!

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Toys By Kate Brunotts 12 min read July 2, 2021

the best tennis ball launchers for dogs

Many dogs simply can’t get enough of chasing after a ball. While this is an excellent form of exercise and entertainment for your furry friend, a prolonged game of fetch can get exhausting for the human!

Luckily, ball launchers make it easier for you and your four-footer to enjoy a satisfying game of fetch

Ball launchers — both automatic and hand-held varieties — are great for keeping your canine busy and having a good time in the process! We’ll explain some of the reasons these toys are so fantastic and identify a few of our favorites below. 

Best Dog Ball Launchers: Quick Picks

  • Nerf Tennis Ball Blaster [Best Gun-Style Ball Launcher]: Easy to use and loads of fun, this ball launcher will help keep your hands slobber-free while firing balls up to 35 feet away.
  • iFetch Automatic Ball Launcher [Best Overall Automatic Ball Launcher]: An automatic launcher that uses rechargeable batteries and gives your pup a chance to play without your help at all.
  • ChuckIt Hand-Held Ball Launcher [Most Affordable Ball Launcher]: This launcher will make it much easier to tire your terrier out, and it costs less than a three-pack of high-quality tennis balls.

The Benefits of Dog Ball Launchers: Why Are They So Popular?

why use a ball launcher with your dog

Ball launchers are popular among pooches for good reason. Here are just a few reasons why you should pick up one of these fetch toys for Fido:

  • They make it easy to enrich your canine’s life and keep his brain buzzing. Whether you’re using an automatic or hand-held launcher, you’ll find that either of these toys will provide plenty of mental stimulation for your four-footer. 
  • Automatic launchers are great for keeping your buddy busy. While you’ll still need to supervise your furry friend while using an automatic launcher, these systems essentially interactive dog toys that operate by themselves, without you having to do much but turn them on (after helping your pooch understand how they work). This way, you can get some of your furry friend’s energy out without having to over-exert yourself. 
  • Both launchers provide exercise. A well-exercised dog is a happy one. And while there are a number of great exercise devices for dogs, ball launchers are easily one of the best. And this is especially true for highly active four-footers who need plenty of daily exercise to keep their tails wagging. 
  • Launchers can help you keep your hands clean. Many launchers allow you to load the ball in hands-free fashion, thereby saving you from picking up a ball covered in slobber or dirt. 
  • Great for challenging your pooch. Hand-held launchers can help you throw a ball farther than you could on your own. They’ll also save you some elbow grease, so you’ll be able to enjoy fetch for longer with your furry friend. 
  • Automatic launchers are fun to watch. What’s more entertaining than watching your pooch chase after a ball he “threw” himself? Automatic launchers are also a great option for pooch parents with arthritis or other health challenges that prevent them from tossing a ball around.

7 Best Dog Ball Launchers 

Here are some of the best dog ball launchers for your furry friend. Note that different launchers lend themselves best to certain situations, so it may be worth considering more than one for your pooch. 

1. ChuckIt! Ball Launcher

Most Affordable Ball Launcher

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Chuckit! Classic Ball Launcher, Medium (26 Inch)

ChuckIt! Ball Launcher

Affordable, easy-to-use ball launcher that’ll let you pick up balls without your hands.

About: This classic launcher from ChuckIt! is designed to throw tennis balls or similarly sized balls two to three times farther than your usual throwing distance. This lightweight ball launcher comes with one ball, but you can always get more from the manufacturer. It also has a clawed handle that allows you to pick up and load the launcher without having to bend over.

Features:

  • Clawed launcher makes it easy to stay clean while playing with your furry friend
  • Flexible sizing options for small and large four-footers
  • Launcher can be used with any similar sized ball
  • Included ball is highly visible with bright orange and blue colors
  • Lightweight launcher is easy to take on the go 

Pros

  • Owners were impressed with the range of this toy and appreciated the hands-free loading design
  • The included ball is easy to see thanks to its bright design
  • The launcher’s long handle makes it easy to pick up and toss the balls  

Cons

  • Light plastic launcher may be less durable than other ball launchers 

2. Nerf Tennis Ball Blaster

Best Gun-Style Launcher

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Nerf Tennis Ball Blaster

Nerf Tennis Ball Blaster

“Cannon” launcher that can shoot balls up to 35 feet and allows for hands-free loading.

About: This gun-style tennis ball launcher from Nerf is just as much fun for you as it is for your four-footer! The launcher can shoot balls up to 35 feet, and it works with tennis balls and other balls of similar size. You can also pick up and load balls in hands-free fashion, making this a mess-free pick.

Features:

  • Launcher shoots tennis balls out up to 35-feet
  • Reduces arm fatigue for owners since all you need to do is pull the trigger
  • The launcher comes with three compatible balls, though it can be used with tennis balls
  • You can choose from different models that shoot balls at different distances
  • Allows for hands-free loading 

Pros

  • Entertaining for both you and your pooch
  • Great for owners who aren’t able to throw very far
  • Hands-free loading keeps hands clean

Cons

  • When triggered, the blaster lets out a loud noise that could be startling for some furry friends 
  • You’ll have to bend over to reload the launcher 

3. Hyper Pet Launcher

Most Convenient Gun-Style Ball Launcher

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Hyper Pet Launcher

Hyper Pet Launcher

Very easy to load-and-launch ball thrower that can shoot balls up to 20 feet.

About: This gun-style ball launcher from Hyper Pet is perfect for owners who don’t want to have to bend over the way some other launchers require, and it makes it very easy to pick up balls when your pooch retrieves them. This launcher is designed to shoot out balls up to 20 feet and the adjustable shooting mechanism gives you more control over the power of the shot.

Features:

  • Ball launcher works with tennis balls and others of similar size
  • Comes in small and large sizes for pint-sized pups and bigger best buddies
  • Hands-free loading 
  • Can hold two balls at once

Pros

  • Owners who suffered from arthritis or had trouble throwing on their own enjoyed the convenience of this launcher
  • Launcher is easy to reload with longer barrel
  • Can be used with standard tennis balls 

Cons

  • Ball launcher only shoots out up to 20 feet 

4. iFetch Ball Launcher

Best Overall Automatic Ball Launcher

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iFetch Ball Launcher

iFetch Ball Launcher

Automatic ball launcher with rechargeable battery that shoots balls up to 40 feet away.

About: If your pooch is a true fetch enthusiast, the iFetch Automated Ball Launcher is an excellent pick. The iFetch launcher shoots balls out 10, 20, or 40 feet, and it gives your pooch the chance to keep himself entertained for hours on end. Unlike some other automatic ball launchers, this one seems pretty easy for most pups to figure out.

Features:

  • Ball launcher can be set to shoot out balls 10, 25, or 40 feet
  • Comes with three compatible balls 
  • Has a built-in rechargeable battery for cord-free use
  • Launcher comes in small and large sizes for all pups
  • Large launcher can be used with standard tennis balls

Pros

  • Launcher has a “random” setting to shoot balls at a varying distances to keep your pooch guessing 
  • Owners loved that this launcher is cord-free and can be used on the go
  • Automated toy and launching system keeps four-footers engaged for hours on end

Cons

  • iFetch can’t be used in wet or damp areas 
  • While most eager fetchers will be able to learn how this toy works, some dogs will struggle with automatic ball launchers

5. Pet Prime Launcher

Best Automatic Ball Launcher for Small Dogs

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Pet Automatic Ball Launcher Dog Interactive Toy Dog Fetch Toy Pet Ball Thrower Machine 3PCS x 2'' Tennis Balls Included Mini Style

Pet Prime Launcher

Automatic ball launcher for small dogs that can be used indoors and outdoors.

About: The automatic ball launcher from Pet Prime is great for small dogs or indoor automated use. This launcher sends out balls at 10, 20, or 30 feet, and it can run on batteries or be powered with the included AC adapter. You’ll get three compatible balls included with the launcher.

Features:

  • Designed for smaller dogs with shorter distance range and smaller ball size
  • Can be set to 10-, 20-, or 30-feet settings
  • Launcher can be loaded by your four-footer for solo playtime
  • Lightweight launcher only weighs about 5 pounds
  • Launcher can be powered by batteries or the included adapter 

Pros

  • Owners loved that they could use this launcher indoors and outdoors
  • Well-optimized for pint-sized pups 
  • Owners appreciated the flexible power options for use in a variety of situations

Cons

  • Larger dogs should not use this launcher as the small balls could be a potential choking hazard 

6. Pet Safe Launcher

Most Adjustable Automatic Ball Launcher

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Pet Safe Launcher

Pet Safe Launcher

Automatic ball launcher with and adjustable shooting angle and range of up to 30 feet.

About: This automatic launcher from Pet Safe comes with plenty of adjustable settings for you to cater your canine’s fetch experience to his liking. Notably, the launcher also has safety settings so that the toy won’t fire a ball if there’s anyone within 7 feet of the launch path. The launcher can be set to shoot at a different angles, giving it a range of between 7 and 30 feet. 

Features:

  • Ball launcher has an adjustable shot angle and range of up to 30 feet
  • Embedded safety sensor ensures that balls are not fired if someone is in the direct line of fire
  • Fits standard sized tennis balls 
  • 15-minute rest timer feature ensures that your pooch doesn’t over work himself
  • Launcher features different tones to keep your furry friend engaged

Pros

  • Dogs seemed to love playing with this launcher and owners appreciated the included safety features
  • Large hopper is easy for your pooch to get used to
  • After a couple of training sessions, most dogs were able to figure out to use this launcher on their own

Cons

  • This automated toy is a bit pricier than other options 
  • This launcher needs to be plugged in to operate

7. Go Dog Go Launcher

Easiest Automatic Ball Launcher for Dogs To Load

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Go Dog Go Launcher

Go Dog Go Launcher

Automatic ball launcher with built-in safety features and a large hopper for easy loading.

About: This lightweight launcher by Go Dog Go is super easy for pups to load. The launcher can hold up to 3 tennis balls at once and can shoot balls at 4, 7, and 15-second intervals. This launcher shoots balls out up to 35-feet and comes with a remote to control launch speeds from up to 50 feet away.

Features:

  • Wide bucket ball launcher comes with a remote to adjust speed from a distance
  • Can be powered by the included AC adapter or by batteries for portable use
  • The launcher has three different distance settings that shoot out up to 35-feet
  • Included safety feature protects passerbys in the line of fire
  • Can be used with full-sized tennis balls or smaller balls

Pros

  • Dogs seemed to love the large, easy to use size of the launcher bucket
  • Launcher is super flexible for varied use since it’s compatible with different-sized balls, has multiple power options, and has embedded safety features
  • Included remote makes the launcher easy to adjust

Cons

  • The loading bucket is relatively easy for pups to figure out, but you’ll still have to spend some time teaching your dog how to use the launcher

Is It Hard to Train a Dog to Use an Automatic Ball Launcher?

Not all dogs will learn how to use an automatic ball launcher, but most can get the idea with a bit of training. Check out the following video from PetSafe that explains how to teach your dog the basics.

Also, it’s just adorable. The border collie’s intelligence is obviously impressive, but the boxer’s excitement is just too cute!

Picking the Best Dog Ball Launcher: Things to Think About 

Before picking out the best dog ball launcher for your particular pooch, take these factors into consideration. Every dog is different, so make sure you take your dog’s preferences into account when selecting one of these essential toys. 

  • Automatic vs. Hand-Held — Automatic launchers are great for keeping your dog entertained for hours on end, though they’re less portable and require more maintenance than hand-held options. You’ll also have to factor in the time it takes to train your dog to use an automatic launcher. Hand-held launchers, on the other hand, are pretty dependable and easy to use, though you’ll obviously need to be more of an engaged participant while playing with your pooch.
  • Throwing Range — Automatic launchers usually have a couple of preset throw distances. This can be useful for owners trying to keep their pups confined to a certain area. On the other hand, most owners will find that a handheld ball launcher will darn near allow you to toss a tennis ball into low Earth orbit. 
  • Cleanliness and Maintenance — If you’re selecting a hand-held option, it’s important to factor in whether the launcher will help you keep your hands clean while playing with your pup. Automatic ball launchers will need to be cleaned out every once in a while to clear out any left behind debris or dirt. 
  • Ease of Use — Make sure your launcher of choice is easy to load and reload as needed. With automatic launchers, you’ll need to consider the hopper size and how easy it is for your pooch to reload on his own. 
  • Ball Compatibility — Be sure to check which types of balls your dog’s launcher is compatible with. Launchers that are compatible with tennis balls are a good choice since you can easily replace the balls if you misplace the ones that come with the kit. 
  • Power Source — If you’re seeking out an automatic ball launcher, be sure to consider the power capabilities. Some automatic launchers can hold a charge or run off of batteries, while others need to be plugged in to run. 
  • Remote Control — Having the option to control your automatic launcher remotely is great for keeping your pooch entertained from a distance. You should still supervise your dog while playing with an automatic launcher, but it’s a bit easier if you can adjust the settings from your smartphone rather than having to walk over to the actual unit. 
  • Ease of Transport — Consider the portability of your ball launcher so that you can play fetch with your furry friend anywhere you go. 
  • Indoor vs. Outdoor Use — Be sure to picture where you intend to use the ball launcher with your best buddy. Indoor ball launchers may need to be compatible with softer toys, for example, or have shorter preset launch distances for automatic launchers. Outdoor areas should be fenced-in and private so that your pooch can focus on chasing after the ball rather than the neighborhood cat or squirrel. If you plan on playing with your pooch and the launcher inside, make sure there isn’t anything out that could break during play sessions. 

***

Getting a ball launcher for your doggo can enhance the fetch experience for both your and your furry family member. Your pooch is sure to love spending time with any of these convenient and engaging ball launchers! 

Is your best buddy a ball enthusiast? Have you tried any of these ball launchers? We’d love to hear all about it in the comments below! 

best toys for fetch with dog
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Written by

Kate Brunotts

Kate is a dog-loving content specialist with over a decade of canine-care experience. She is currently a professional dog walker and pet sitter, with previous experience working at the Heart of Chelsea Animal Hospital in Manhattan. When not spending time with four-footers, she can usually be found crafting top-notch dog-care articles that pet parents can trust. Kate loves dogs of all shapes and sizes, but Bernese Mountain Dogs hold a special place in her heart.

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