HomeReviewsBest automatic ball thrower for dogs 2019


Best automatic ball thrower for dogs 2019 — 24 Comments

  1. I have my doubts that I would ever use one indoors but I have used one outdoors in the past.

    Using it saved my arm because my dog would fetch for 20 hours if I let him.  The ones in this article look a little more hi tech then I remember and mine only used one ball so I had to rely on puppy retrieval every time.

    This was a great article and I actually learned a lot of new stuff.  The internet is a wonderful thing.


    • Thanks, Dale. A trip down memory lane for you eh? 🙂 Yes, according to GoDogGo, they have been around now for 20 years! I’m not sure how much more hi tech they could be now compared to yours other than in the design. They all work on a similar mechanical principle. Hopefully they are now more reliable.

      The smaller ones, certainly, are perfectly safe for use indoors – just don’t point towards the best crockery! 🙂 – and, of course, make sure your dog has a free path to run along without crashing into anything valuable!

      Most folks will only need to use one ball at a time. If you use two, most dogs will drop the ball they’re holding and go after the new one – you can use this principle when training them to drop. But two or three balls could be useful for owners with two or three dogs playing all together.

      Glad you enjoyed it,

  2. Hello Ian, you only recommend buying this product only for those dogs that love to go and look for balls .I have a medium dog that likes to return the balls that I throw to him, I will try to teach him how to improve his return before making the purchase. I will save your site for more queries.Thank you! Claudio

    • Hi Claudio – If your dog loves playing fetch, they will love one of these! If they already return the ball to you, and drop it, it shouldn’t be too difficult to teach them to drop it in an automatic ball thrower. In fact, if you want to be sure before buying one, ypou could teach your doig to drop the ball into a bucket! Try to train them to approach it from the side. Good luck!

  3. I like this idea in moderation.  For those of us who are fit, it makes us lazy and perhaps more unfit.  But it is ideal for those who have disabilities, for them, this is an amazing answer to being able to spend quality fun-time with their four-legged friends.

    I do have one question though, and it was prompted by the name for one of these ball throwers, namely iFrenzy.  Have these ball throwers been tested with the psyche of the canine species in mind and would too much of it cause the dog to end up in a frenzy?  It’s like too much of anything can be bad for one.

    I did notice there was one that has a rest period for 15 minutes, but I’m thinking more of the one where the dog doesn’t know where the ball is coming out which hole.  Looking forward to your response.Edu

    • Hi Edu – thank you for your comments and questions.

      You’re right – one of these would be perfect for a dog owner with a disability that prevented them from throwing a ball. I know one person who got one when they injjured their arm. However, some dogs like to play far longer than their owners are able to throw, and while a dog may be enthralled chasing a ball for an hour, their owner may wish for an activity with a little more variety 🙂 So I fon’t think they are just for the disabled or lazy 🙂  And, with some, you can engage with your dog by varying the throw by remote.

      I did say I thought the Frenzy was, perhaps, a slightly ambitious name 🙂 and I don’t think it would cause any kind of frenzy at all. However, dogs like puzzles and challenges and not knowing where the ball is going to come from gives them that. But for small dogs only, please.

  4. I play fetch with my dog and never thought about getting an automatic ball thrower. Having read this article I can see lots of benefits. The main one for me would be to play indoors as I have a small Bichon Frise and she loves to play.

    I’m not dure if the Frenzy would be exciting enough. It seems very tame. One of the other mini launchers might be better. Can you recommend one for small dogs for use indoors?

    • Hi Lok – Bichons are great!

      It depends on how boisterous she is. Using the Frenzy on a hard floor and with rubber balls (I have not tried this) the balls might roll far enough to engage her but you know her best.

      Of the others, any that handle mini balls would be fine. Check the distances and see which would be suitable for your indoor space.


  5. I love the idea of an automatic ball thrower. I can see one of these providing years of entertainment for dogs that like to play fetch.

    You point out some things that did not come to mind for me. Mainly the dog should be trained not to stand in front of the launcher.

    I would have concerns with a launcher that shuts down for 15 mins automatically. All the dogs I have ever owned would think it was broken and try to repair it and you know what that means. LOL.

    • Hi Tony – Yes, never underestimate the inquisitive dog – espcially one with a spanner! 🙂 That’s why it’s essential you supervise play at all times. And remove any tools from the vicinity 🙂

      You can override the shutdown as described in the article. It’s not an ideal way of doing it but the other features of the Petsafe are impressive and might outweigh that disadvantage.

      The thing about training your dog to drop the ball from the side is so they don’t stand in front of the launcehr when the ball is launched, although many of the launchers have a sensor to prevent this. However, I suggested that it’s a good idea to train your dog to fetch and drop before investing in an automatic ball thrower, so this bit of avice is so you start training your dog to drop from the side rather than having to try to retrain them if they drop from the front.


  6. My dog loves playing throw and fetch and an automatic ball launcher sounds absolutely perfect for him and me. We don’t have a problem with me throwing the ball but I think this would add something else to our playtime and I am excited to try one.

    You have reviewed so many. Which one is the best?

    • Hi Seun – thanks for your comment and enthusiasm 🙂 You and your dog will have great fun, I’m sure.

      As for the best… Well, we looked at well over a dozen and we think the mahines produced by these  four manufacturers are the top automatic ball throwing machines available today. We did try to pick a best but it simply wasn’t possible because they all have slightly different feaures which will appeal to different users.

      The place to start is with the size of the ball. Does your dog play with mini  balls or full-size tennis balls? After that, look at the features such as distance, elevation, remote control and see which you’d USE. Some have nifty features but that doesn’t matter if  you’re unlikely to use them. You can’t go wrong with any of them.

      Have fun!


  7. That;s a really great idea.

    I’m quite happy throwing a ball for my dog but he never wants to stop and my arm aches after a while. One of these ball throwers sounds like an ideal solution. I particularly like the one where you can control the throw by remote.

    It would certainly keep my dog fit but I may grow more lazy! 

    • Hi Edwin – yes it’s a great keep fit machine for dogs! 🙂

      The GoDogGo and iDogMate both have remotes and either would give you a bit more control over the ball. But the random function which many of them have also provides a challenge for your dog – and you don’t even have to press a button 🙂

      However, it is important that you supervise his play at all times, in case he decides to investigate where the balls come from a little too closely!


  8. Hi!

    I’ve got a dog that loves to play ball. I bet she would’ve taken to this very quickly. She was one of those rare dogs that pretty much fetched and brought it back on her own. I did very little training. For her, it was instinct.

    I do have a question about the ball launchers in general. My dog does get her balls super slobbery and there’s no way around this especially if let to do it alone. Is there a ball launcher you know of that could work despite this?

    • Hi Tina -thanks for stopping by. Yes, these are great fun and if your dog can already play fetch she will love it!

      Most of the ball launchers accept that the balls are going to get slobbery and wet and can cope with it although you will need to clean it thoroughly after use – which you should do in any case to remove dirt and grime. The main consequence of a wet ball is that it won’t throw so far so if your dog is really slobbery you may want to clean out the machine during play.

      Have fun!

  9. Hi Ian,

    One of these seems an absolute must have for me and my friends. We all have a dog but we also have disability’s. Some of us with our hands and some have problems with their feet.

    A device that works on auto-pilot would be great!

    My only concern is how to carry it. Is it possible to carry it with ease? What do u recommend for someone who is disabled ?

    Hope to hear from you.



    • Hi Dahay – Looks like you have a very suportive group. And dogs are great companions, too!

      It sounds like you want to use these outside, perhaps carry them to a field or park. The Petsafe has an obvious handle on the top while the iDogMate has handles built into the design. You can also buy a dedicated bag for it which is probably a better option, and it serves as a storage case, too. So Petsafe or iDogMate, I’d say, but the iFetch Too could also be placed in a bag or holdall if that takes your fancy. The GoDogGo might be a little bulky. Also take the weight into account if you are going to be carrying it very far.

      If you want one unit for all of you, get one which can load a ball for each of your dogs, and if some fo you have smll dogs that can’t hold a full-size tennis ball, take that into account, too.

  10. That’s great advice to make sure your dog plays fetch and can drop the ball before getting an automatic ball thrower. My dog likes to play fetch, but she didn’t always drop the ball. We have a yard big enough to use one of these. She might enjoy it.

    And I was thinking of leaving her outside alone with it until I read your bit about the danger. Good to know! Thanks for the warning that it should always be supervised play.

    • Hi Nicole – a lot of people have trouble getting their dog to drop the ball 🙂 The video in the article shows part of a training plan to help teach your dog to do just that. Once your dog drops the ball, the rest should be easy.

      These automatic ball throwers are electronic and mechanical devices. While most people cn leave their dog safely alone at home with a TV set and the like, dogs will look upon a ball thrower as their toy – little do they know it’s really YOUR toy! 🙂 – and may want to ‘investigate’ it ’cause dogs are curious, too. So supervision is essential to make sure they don’t hurt themselves by trying to get insiode the unit.

  11. I’m wondering how this device would work in different rural areas, as we live by, and my dog enjoys playing on, a beach that makes up an estuary. 

    He’s used to playing fetch with balls and sticks on the beach, but would this automatic ball thrower work in sandy conditions, or will it withstand the weather conditions?

    • Hi Chris – good question! I had wondered about that. The machines will stand up to an amount of dirt and water (and slobber) that will inevitably get dropped insiode but I’m not sure how they’d be affected by sand. I’d imagine – and I haven’t tested this! – that they’d be okay with a little as that would be like normal dirt, but I suspect they may have trouble if a sand-covered ball was continuously dropped in it.

      If anyone has experiece of this, please let us knw.

      However, if you like the idea of using an automatic ball thrower, you could always get your dog to give you the ball, you could dip it in a bucket of water to remove the sand and fire it off.

      Some machines can hold several balls which would give you more time to wash the returned ball and drop it in the funnel. The GoDogGo can hold 17 full-size tennis balls or 25 mini valls. The Petsafe can hold 3. If you go that route, make sure to clean and dry the machine thoroughly after each use.


  12. Hey – I’ve been reading about engaging with your dog more as a way of training him by playing games with him. I have a black lab and he loves playing with the ball. He’s not where he will drop the ball yet. I think he wants me to try to take it off him. haha! He is playing with ME! I am wondering if an automatic ball machine would  help with playing, engagement and training.

    • Hi Agobr – yes, it would certainly help with the engagement and you’d both have a lot of fun. However, if he won’t give you the ball now, he won’t give it to you if it’s thrown by a machine and he certainly won’t drop it into the funnel!

      Take a look at the video near the top which shows how to train your dog to give you the ball. It uses dog psychology and is quite clever 🙂

      Once your dog gives you the ball, then you could use an automatic ball laucnher. After that, you just need to train him to drop the ball into the funnel. That should be no harder than teaching him to drop. Some dogs get it in a few hours, others can take a few days but it’s worth the effort.

      In any event, it’s just one way to play with your dog. Engagement and interaction are key. Take a look at How to walk a dog – Worry Free Walks book review. There’s lots of ideas there.


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