How to Choose the Best Ball Launcher for Your Dog

Your dog loves to play. His instincts have him geared to running at full-speed to chase down prey, which to him is the purest form of play. A tennis ball is one of the best toys to give your dog hours of pleasure letting him indulge his passion to chase.

The problem is our arms. Our dogs love to keep playing long after our arm is screaming to stop. A ball launcher is a solution. It reduces arm fatigue, increases your throwing distance, and makes your pet happy.

There are several different types of ball launchers for you to consider including manual ball throwers, semi-automatic throwers, and fully automatic throwers. Let’s examine the difference so you can choose the best ball launcher for your dog.

Manual Ball Launchers

This category of the launcher is the cheapest and a great way to get started. You can buy a manual ball launcher for under $10.

A manual launcher looks like a curved stick with a grasping hole on one end. The hole is where you place the tennis ball. You then use a simple slinging motion to launch the ball. Launchers come in varying lengths with different curves and flexibility. Longer launchers provide greater throwing distances. A little flexibility can improve the power of the launcher by providing a slingshot effect.

As you can already guess, manual ball launchers still require effort. It will reduce arm fatigue, but eventually, your arm will still get tired. Their biggest advantage is cost.

Things to look for on a manual launcher. Choose one that is long enough to provide good throwing distance. Look at reviews to see how durable the unit is. Some launchers are notorious for breaking easily.

Semi-Automatic Ball Launchers

A semi-automatic ball launcher may get a lot of attention at your local park. These frequently look like a mini-bazooka or a child’s Nerf gun. In reality, they function very similar to a battery operated Nerf guns. You load in the tennis ball, pull the trigger, and the ball is launched using either a spring-loaded system or an electronic motor. Spring activated launchers require a little extra effort to cock, but save on the cost of batteries and are usually cheaper to buy.

The advantages are easy to see. Your arms will never get tired. You can aim where you want the tennis ball to go easily. You will need to check the specifications on each launcher to see how far they can launch a tennis ball, but it is usually much farther than you can comfortably throw.

Things to consider: Since you are spending a little extra, check the length of the warranty and how long batteries should last.

Automatic Ball Launchers

No work, just play for your dog. That should be the motto of automatic ball launchers, which sounds great on the surface, but does have a major shortcoming which we will get to in a moment.

These launchers work on autopilot. You load balls, they launch balls, you don’t work. Some units allow your dog to reload when they return the ball.

So, what is the problem? You wanted to play with your dog, but now you are taken out of the equation. This is still great for older pet owners who need a break, but for most of us, it is overkill. These units are more expensive but do work great.

Things to look for: Check how many balls the automatic launcher holds. Does it use batteries, or does it plug in to an outlet? How long is the warranty?

As you might guess, our favorite ball launchers are the manual and semi-automatic launchers. They keep us engaged with our dog while taking pressure off the arm.

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