7 Best Tennis Ball Launchers for Dogs (Automatic and Manual)
Stacy Reed
Author: Stacy Reed
Stacy is a freelance writer who has always shared her life with dogs, especially German Shepherds.
Published date: September 7, 2022
Updated date: February 5, 2024
This article was reviewed and fact checked If you have found any errors, please contact us!

7 Best Tennis Ball Launchers for Dogs (Automatic and Manual)

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As a dog parent, you probably love to play fetch with your dog, but chances are good your arm gets tired from throwing balls sooner than your dog gets tired of catching them!

So what do you do? When you can’t quite keep up with your energetic pup, a dog ball

As a dog parent, you probably love to play fetch with your dog.

If you’ve found yourself tiring out before your pup does, don’t worry — there’s a perfect solution.

Consider getting a ball launcher. This handy tool allows you to launch tennis balls far and wide without tiring your arm.

Ball launchers come in various designs to suit your needs. They can provide endless fun for your dog while saving you from exhaustion. It’s a win-win for both you and your pet!

Our list includes both automatic ball launchers and manual dog ball launchers so you can compare your options and make an informed purchase. 

IN A HURRY? HERE ARE OUR TOP PICKS…

Nerf Dog Tennis Ball Blaster

Best Overall Product

Best Budget Product

Hyper Pet Dog Ball Launcher

Runners-Up

Gramercy Blaster Dog Toy

Summary

Made of high-quality materials, this hand-held ball launcher has an adjustable loading mechanism you can use to modify the distance you’re launching the ball.

The Hyper Pet Dog Ball Launcher is another great interactive dog toy. This hand-held ball launcher has a quick trigger tennis ball launch mechanism that  is easy to load and launch. 

The Gramercy Blaster Dog Toy is another great hand-held ball launcher for dog owners. The kit comes with a tennis ball blaster and includes 12 squeaky tennis balls.

Pros

Easy to operate

Hands-free ball pick-up

Lightweight

Cons

Internal rubber bands prone to breaking

Launch distance shorter than advertised

Included tennis balls break easily

1. Best Overall: Nerf Dog Tennis Ball Blaster

Pros

  • Easy to operate
  • Adjustable launch distance of up to 50 feet
  • Hands-free ball pickup
  • Uses standard size tennis balls 
  • Can be reloaded with regular non-Nerf tennis balls
  • Safe for dogs of all sizes
  • Ball holder for storing extra ball

Cons

  • Internal rubber bands prone to breaking
  • Some reviewers report poor-quality balls
  • Not suitable for heavy chewers
  • Not suitable for indoor use

Did you know that Nerf, the popular children’s toymaker, also offers some excellent dog toys? A popular dog toy from their collection is the Nerf Dog Tennis Ball Blaster.

Made of high-quality materials, this hand-held ball launcher has an adjustable loading mechanism you can use to modify the distance you’re launching the ball.

All you need to do is to pull back the lever to release more power. This high-powered tennis ball blaster can actually reach an impressive 50-foot distance, making it great for high-energy dogs that need to burn a lot of energy daily!

This launcher also has no exposed moving parts, making it absolutely safe to use for both you and your dog. It also features a hands-free ball pickup, so you don’t have to deal with slobbery balls and can keep your hands clean and mess-free.

After your dog brings the tennis ball back, just place the nozzle of the ball launcher over the ball on the floor. It will load the ball into its spot securely for another throw.

You can choose from a ball launcher with a ball capacity of one ball, three balls, or four balls. 

The device also has a ball holder under it where you can store an extra ball and use it when one gets lost or too wet and slobbery.

One thing we really like about this dog ball thrower is that it uses standard-sized tennis balls.

Other automatic dog ball throwers like the iFetch interactive ball launcher come with mini tennis balls, which can risk choking in big dogs.

That’s why the Nerf gun is great for small to medium dogs and large dogs. Plus, the Nerf tennis balls have a tightly woven fuzz to prevent your pet from pulling them apart.

When it comes to using the ball thrower, we’d recommend only using it outdoors! Indoors, there’s a larger chance you might launch a tennis ball into your dog’s face or body, knock over something valuable, or harm someone, yourself, or your dog. 

Overall, if you’re looking for the best manual dog ball launchers for your pet’s exercise needs, this tennis ball blaster from Nerf Dog is our number one choice.

2. Runner-Up: Gramercy Blaster Dog Toy

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Easy to use
  • Launches balls long distances
  • Comes with 12 squeak tennis balls
  • Compatible with regular-sized tennis balls
  • Lightweight
  • Weather-resistant and water-resistant

Cons

  • Included tennis balls break easily
  • Included tennis balls not suitable for big dogs
  • It breaks easily and may require regular maintenance

The Gramercy Blaster Dog Toy is another excellent hand-held ball launcher for dog owners.

The kit comes with a tennis ball blaster and 12 squeaky tennis balls, all made from dog-safe material.

The squeaky balls are sure to keep your dog’s attention, and with 12 of them included, you and your dog will surely get plenty of use from this product. 

It’s also easy to use: just pull back on the handle, load the ball, and take your shot. Your dog can enjoy hours of fun and exercise and stay busy, healthy, and happy.

The tennis ball launcher is also lightweight yet fairly sturdy and is resistant to water and the elements.

While the launcher is compatible with regular-size tennis balls, the included squeak toys are on the smaller size, making this launcher better for small to medium dogs.

The small balls may be a choking hazard in large dogs, especially as some users have reported that they break fairly easily. Luckily, they can easily be swapped out for regular tennis balls if this is a concern.

3. Best Value for Money: Hyper Pet Dog Ball Launcher

Pros

  • Adjustable launch distance up to 60 feet
  • Hands-free ball pick-up
  • Lightweight, sleek design that prevents arm and shoulder strain
  • Comfortable grip
  • Provides storage for up to two additional balls
  • Comes with one brightly colored tennis ball for easy visibility

Cons

  • Internal rubber bands prone to breaking
  • Some reviewers report launch distance shorter than advertised

The Hyper Pet Dog Ball Launcher is another interactive dog toy that’s great for getting your dog some quality playtime.

This hand-held ball launcher has a quick-trigger tennis ball launch mechanism that is easy to load and launch.

The ball launcher also comes with a regular-sized tennis ball and provides storage space for two extra balls. 

The launch distance is adjustable with a pull of a lever, and this powerful launcher can get the ball quite far, up to around 60 feet.

This means your dog can get a real workout, which means a healthy, happy, and calm dog at home!

The innovative, lightweight design and comfortable grip allow you to use the launcher for as long as possible without causing any strain on your arms and shoulders.

The Hyper Pet Launcher also features a hands-free pick-up feature that lets you pick up and load tennis balls without touching them.

Just place the barrel on top of the ball and gently pull the lever; no more picking up wet or slobbery balls while playing with your dog.

Please note, that some reviewers have commented that the rubber band mechanism inside this launcher is prone to breaking easily.

However, reviewers have reported success with replacing the mechanism on their own, and even boosting the launch distance in this way.

If the rubber band is weaker, this launcher may only be appropriate for small dogs, as larger dogs will need a greater launch range to get a really good workout.

4. Alternative: All for Paws Dog Automatic Ball Launcher

Pros

  • Attractive design 
  • User-friendly
  • Comes with three mini balls
  • Adjustable launch distance of 10, 20, or 30 feet
  • Suitable for indoor and outdoor use
  • One-year warranty
  • Money-back guarantee

Cons

  • Must use All For Paws brand mini balls, no standard tennis balls
  • Not suitable for big dogs
  • Requires supervision
  • Breakable

If you’re leaning more towards automatic dog ball launchers, the All for Paws Interactive Automatic Ball Launcher for Dogs features a compact and sleek design and comes with three mini tennis balls that are perfect for playing fetch with medium and small dogs. 

This fetch machine is a pet-safe automatic ball launcher that is easy to operate. You simply turn it on, select your launch distance, and load the mini tennis balls one after the other.

You can choose between a launch distance of 10, 20, and 30 feet, so the balls don’t go very far, but that means you can use the ball launcher both indoors and outdoors.

Plus, your dog can be trained to drop the balls it retrieves directly into the launcher, with no input from you required!

Unlike some other automatic ball launchers, this one offers two power methods. You can keep it plugged into the AC adapter that comes with the fetch machine, but it also takes batteries for added portability. 

If you’re unsure, the seller offers a money-back guarantee and a one-year warranty, so you can return or replace the product if you don’t like it.

5. Alternative: PALULU Automatic Dog Toy Ball Launcher

Pros

  • Attractive design available in white or blue
  • Remote control option available
  • Easy to operate
  • Adjustable launch distance
  • Comes with six mini balls
  • Great for both indoor and outdoor use
  • Enters standby mode when not in use

Cons

  • Cannot load more than one ball at a time
  • Breaks easily when moisture is introduced into launcher
  • Not compatible with regular-sized tennis balls or rubber balls

The PALULU Automatic Dog Toy Ball Launcher is another good option among ball throwers for small dogs and medium dogs. It includes a six-pack of 2” mini balls that are perfect for smaller mouths.

It can be used indoors and outdoors, letting you set a launch distance of 10, 20, or 30 feet. 

An AC power adapter is included, but if you wish to use the fetch machine outdoors and don’t have a power outlet nearby, it can also run on batteries.

One feature that sets this product apart from other automatic ball launchers is its standby mode.

Whether you use the power adapter or batteries, it won’t shut down automatically, so you can resume play after a short break without having to turn it on and off repeatedly; if you do want to turn off the machine, just press and hold the power button for 5 seconds.

You can also pay a little bit more to get this launcher with a remote control, letting you turn it on and off or change the launch distance from further away. 

6. Alternative: Franklin Pet Ready Set Fetch Automatic Tennis Ball Launcher

Pros

  • Innovative design
  • Adjustable launch distance and angle
  • Optional safety mode can alert the dog when the ball is about to be launched
  • Comes with a non-abrasive standard-size tennis ball and an all-weather ball
  • Compatible with regular tennis balls and other similar-sized balls
  • Good for indoor and outdoor use
  • Durable

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Loud motor noise may frighten or upset some animals
  • Balls will not hold up to aggressive chewers
  • Does not work with smaller balls
  • Batteries not included

The Franklin Pet Ready Set Fetch Automatic Tennis Ball Launcher Dog Toy is great for dog owners looking for interactive ball launchers with a lot of adjustable options and features.

For one thing, the launcher comes with multiple types of dog balls.

While it does include a standard tennis ball, it also includes a specially-designed all-weather launcher ball that can be loaded and launched even when wet or slobbery. 

The launch distance is adjustable, as is the launch angle! In fact, depending on the launch angle, the all-weather launcher ball can reach a distance of more than 50 feet. 

Your dog can be taught to load the launcher itself, making it a fantastic brain game that provides mental and physical stimulation.

And to keep your dog safe when it engages with the automatic ball launcher on its own, the machine has a safety mode that makes a noise to warn your dog when the ball is about to launch.

You can turn off this sound feature if you find it too noisy or if your dog dislikes it. 

The launcher is portable and comes with a power adapter and a battery compartment, letting you choose between different power modes for indoor and outdoor use.

This, along with all the other options available, makes it one of the most feature-rich automatic launchers you can get for your dog.

7. Alternative: IDOGMATE Big Dog Ball Launcher

Pros

  • Programmable speed and distance
  • Long-range remote control function
  • Different modes for playing fetch
  • Patented arced wheel design shoots even wet and slobbery balls
  • Three non-abrasive dog tennis balls included
  • Includes rechargeable battery for outdoor use

Cons

  • Included balls are not suitable for aggressive chewers 
  • Launch distance is much lower on battery power

If you’re looking for ball throwers with a remote control feature, you should check out the IDOGMATE Dog Ball Launcher.

The included remote control can be used from up to 40 feet away, letting you make adjustments from a distance as your dog plays. 

This ball launcher is extremely adjustable. You can adjust the distance and speed of the launch, or put it into a random mode to add an element of unpredictability.

The launcher also features rest and trainer modes. Rest mode will give your dog a 15-minute break, preventing it from overexerting itself during an extended play session.

Meanwhile, trainer mode puts you in control, so you can decide when the machine will throw tennis balls. This mode helps prevent injuries to your dog if it is not yet ready to play.

The machine also has a patented arced wheel design that prevents wet and slobbery balls from getting stuck in the device, setting it apart from other ball launchers.

This, in turn, helps it retain its maximum launch distance, so your dog keeps getting the exercise it needs.

The dog ball launcher also comes with three heavy-duty washable balls that are felted like regular tennis balls, but made of a non-abrasive material that is explicitly meant to be gentle on your dog’s mouth. .

Like some of the other launchers on this list, the IDOGMATE can be plugged into an AC adaptor or run on battery power.

But unlike others, this launcher comes with a rechargeable Li-ion battery that supports 250 shots on a full charge, so you don’t break the bank buying batteries.

That being said, the battery is weaker than the adapter, so you’re better off plugging it in when you can if you want to maximize the launch distance.

Conclusion

A healthy, happy dog gets plenty of exercise and interaction.

Unfortunately, dog owners can’t always keep up with their dogs physically, or go through times in their lives when they simply don’t have as much time to play as their dog really needs.

If this is the case, a tennis ball launcher is a great way to meet your dog’s needs without neglecting your own. 

We hope our list of seven of the best dog ball launchers has helped you find the perfect toy for your furry friend and yourself. 

The options on our list are excellent for dogs of all breeds and sizes, with various features depending on your lifestyle and budgetary needs.

Just remember, a ball that’s too small for your dog’s mouth can present a choking hazard, so consider your dog’s size when choosing a launcher!

Tennis Ball Launchers for Dogs – FAQ

Below, we’ve answered some common questions about dog tennis ball launchers, including how to train your dog to get used to and play with the launcher.

Are ball launchers suitable for dogs?

Are ball launchers good for dogs?

Ball launchers are a great way to help keep your dog stimulated and improve its health and fitness.

They can be a great bonding tool for dogs and their owners, or a way to keep your furry friend active, engaged, and happy when you don’t have as much time or energy to play with them as you’d like. 

Manual ball launchers help you shoot balls farther than you can throw them, saving you some elbow grease and letting you play fetch with your pet for longer than your body might allow.

They’re a great way to play with your dog without tiring yourself out trying to keep up with your dog’s endless energy. 

With automatic dog ball launchers, you’ll still have to supervise your dog to prevent injury or accidents.

However, an automatic ball launcher is essentially an interactive dog toy that works independently without you having to do anything except switch it on. That means if you have a pressing deadline at work, you can make sure your dog still gets all the play he deserves while you’re toiling away.

Both manual and automatic launchers are an excellent option for dogs whose owners have arthritis or other health issues that prevent them from throwing balls around themselves.

How do you train a dog to use an automatic ball thrower?

To train your dog to use an automatic ball thrower, it is best to use positive reinforcement techniques.

Try using a clicker and giving your dog a treat when it follows your command. Your goal is to help your dog make a positive association with the automatic dog ball launcher so it becomes more comfortable with it.

If your ball launcher is one that makes a warning tone before launch, you’ll also want to use the clicker and treats to get it used to the sound. 

Here’s a quick summary of how you can train your dog to use the launcher:

  • Encourage your dog to approach the fetch machine, then click and give it a treat. 
  • Load a tennis ball and let your dog retrieve it. When it returns to you with the tennis ball, click and give another a treat while using the command “drop it.” Your dog will let go of the ball to take the treat and learn to associate the command with the action when given the command.
  • Next, move your hand that is holding the treat over the opening of the automatic ball thrower. Your dog will drop the ball in the bucket to get the treat. 
  • When the ball launches again, use verbal encouragement to get your dog to chase and retrieve it.
  • As your dog gets accustomed to the automatic ball thrower, reduce the clicks and treats and encourage it to enjoy playing fetch.

How do I teach my dog to fetch a tennis ball?

How do I teach my dog to fetch a tennis ball?

To teach your dog to fetch a tennis ball, start by getting it interested in the ball. Bounce the ball around, get your dog’s attention, and make sure it is excited and tracking the ball.

Once it is paying attention, offer the ball to your dog in your outstretched palm and encourage it to “hold” the ball in its mouth.

When it takes the tennis ball from you, use a clicker and give your dog a treat to build a positive association between holding the ball in its mouth and getting a treat. 

Now, slowly increase the ball’s distance from the dog and encourage your dog to pick up the ball again, introducing commands like “fetch” or “get it.”

When it picks up the ball, click and give the dog a treat while praising it. 

As you slowly move the ball further away, make sure your dog is bringing it back to you before it gets a reward. Use the command “drop it” before handing the treat to your dog.

When it drops the ball to take the treat from you, throw the ball and repeat the process until your dog learns to fetch the ball every time you throw it.

Why won’t my dog bring the ball back?

When dogs don’t bring the ball all the way back or drop it away from their owners, it could mean they don’t understand the rules of the game.

It could also be that they simply don’t like playing fetch much. However, most dogs just need a little positive reinforcement to help them learn to enjoy playing fetch. 

If you’re experiencing this problem, a simple way to get your dog to bring the ball back is to hide a treat inside the ball.

Make a slit in the ball and put a treat in it while your dog is watching. Your dog will know that the treat is hidden in the ball and can smell it, but it won’t be able to remove it on its own. 

In this case, it will most likely bring the ball back to you to get the treat out. Reward it with the treat, then replace the treat and throw the ball again.

Repeat this process a few times. Soon your dog will learn that it will have to bring the ball all the way back and drop it in front of you to get the treat.

Are automatic dog ball launchers worth it?

Automatic dog ball launchers offer convenience for busy pet parents. These devices can throw balls for your dog even when you’re not around.

However, these launchers vary in cost and quality. Some are affordable while others can be quite expensive.

When considering if they’re worth the investment, think about your dog’s needs. High-energy dogs might benefit greatly from the constant activity a launcher provides. On the other hand, dogs with less energy may not use it as much.

Another point to consider is space. A launcher needs enough room to function correctly. In small spaces, they could be less useful. For those with big yards, it’s a different story. The device can throw balls far enough to give dogs a great workout.Safety is also important. Quality ball launchers have features that prevent accidents. They might have sensors to ensure your dog isn’t too close when the ball launches. Cheaper models may lack these features, posing a risk.

Should I wash my dog’s tennis balls?

Yes, you should wash your dog’s tennis balls. These toys can collect dirt, saliva, and bacteria over time. It is important to keep them clean to prevent the growth of germs that could make your dog sick.

Regular cleaning is simple. You can use mild soap and water by hand or put them in the washing machine.

If you use the washer, select a gentle cycle and add pet-safe detergent. After washing, let the tennis balls air-dry.

Is there a difference between tennis balls and dog tennis balls?

Yes, there is a difference between tennis balls designed for the sport of tennis and those made specifically for dogs.

Tennis balls meant for players are crafted for optimal performance on the court. They’re made to bounce consistently and withstand powerful racket hits. These balls are also regulated to meet specific size, weight, and bounce criteria set by tennis organizations.

On the other hand, dog tennis balls prioritize safety and durability for playtime with your pet. They may be softer to avoid damaging a dog’s teeth and usually come in brighter colors to appeal to dogs and their owners.

Dog tennis balls can be larger or smaller than standard tennis balls, making them easier or harder for different breeds to carry in their mouths.

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