Best ball throwing machines for dogs 2024: Keep your dog entertained effortlessly

best ball throwing machines for dogs
(Image credit: Paws and Pals)

If your dog has seemingly endless energy, then the best ball throwing machines for dogs could be the perfect playmate for them.

Obviously we love a game of fetch with our playful pooch, but we can’t always be there to throw the ball — maybe you’re out at work during the day, or you suffer from an injury that leaves you on the sidelines. Or perhaps your pooch just has more energy than you can keep up with. In all these cases, an automatic ball throwing machine for dogs is here to save the day.

These handy gadgets let your pooch play fetch with themselves, launching the ball to the far end of the garden. You’ll need to train your canine friend to return the ball and drop it into the dispenser, but once they’ve got that down, they can have endless fun on their own.

Compared to simpler items on our best dog toys list, automatic ball throwers can be a little pricey, but you get a lot of bang for your buck. They come loaded with features including adjustable distance and height settings to match your available play space, remote control options and even variable timers to keep your dog guessing. Most of them are compatible with a normal tennis ball too, so you don’t have to worry about replacing the balls if they get lost or chewed up. And if your pooch does like to chew them into oblivion, maybe check out our best dog chew toys guide too.

Now, let’s dive into our guide to the best ball throwing machine for dogs. We’ve rounded up our top picks, with budget, mid-range and premium options to suit your budget. There is even an off the wall pick that doubles as a baseball pitcher for kids too.

Lily Richards
Dr. Lily Richards

Dr. Lily Richards is a vet with 11 years of experience in farm, equine, small animal and exotic patient care. After running a busy clinic she took a step into client education focusing on getting the right information to those that need it and are searching for help and advice from professionals online.

PetsRadar's pick of the best ball throwing machines for dogs

PetSafe Automatic Ball Launcher ball throwing machines for dogs

(Image credit: Petsafe)
Best overall ball throwing machine for dogs


Amazon Rating: 3.5 stars (598)
Weight: 4kg
Ball Capacity: 3 x standard tennis balls

Reasons to buy

Adjustable height and distance settings
Mid-range price point
Compatible with standard tennis balls

Reasons to avoid

Loud alert sound
Timeout system can slow down play

The PetSafe Automatic Ball Launcher is marketed as the ultimate playtime companion for your dog. Weighing approximately 4kg, the Launcher fires out tennis balls (three loaded at a time) for your dog to fetch, and can then return to drop back in the launcher and start again. The distance and height of the launch can be adjusted using dials on the side of the device, which can be charged at the mains or loaded with six D Cell batteries (not included) for outdoor use.

The device has nine adjustable distance settings, ranging from 2.5 to 9 meters, and its multiple power options (the included power cord or the batteries) allows for fun playtimes both inside and outdoors.

The PetSafe Automatic Ball Launcher has received 525 Amazon reviews with an average rating of 3.5 stars, the same score achieved by the latest iFetch Too model from 598 reviews.

Owners of highly energetic or working dogs like Collies are big fans of the adjustable distance and height setting offered by the PetSafe launcher, with one commenting, “This is my dog’s dream!”

The overwhelming majority of the 210 five star Amazon reviewers (40%) praised the “fantastic distance and height options”, and a great number also praised the PetSafe’s safety features. Many, however, found the 15-minute 'timeout’ function frustrating both for them and their pooch. As one reviewer commented, “I just wish there was a way to disable ‘timeout’. It’s a good idea but the fact you can’t switch it off is not.”

All For Paws Hyperfetch Mini ball throwing machines for dogs

(Image credit: All For Paws)

All For Paws Hyperfetch Mini

Best ball throwing machine for smaller dogs


Amazon Rating: 4 stars (278)
Weight: 2.2kg
Ball Capacity: 3 x mini tennis balls (mini rubber also compatible)

Reasons to buy

Great value
Suitable for indoor and outdoor usage
Money-back guarantee

Reasons to avoid

Can be unreliable 
Noisy during usage
Only suitable for small dogs

This automatic launcher is designed especially for small to medium dogs, and is suggested as a perfect toy for your dog to play with, even when unsupervised (despite the advert also stating “always supervise your dog while playing”).

The Hyperfetch can fire balls between 10 and 30ft, and the return and feeding system claims to be very intuitive for dogs to get used to for dropping the balls back in themselves. Included with the device are three small balls and a charging unit. 

With a 55% share of five star votes from 277 Amazon reviews, many customers found the device to be easy to set up and huge amounts of fun for their dog. One user commented, “My dachshund loves it too much, we’ve had to ban it because she goes into a frenzy of excitement every time she sees it!”. 

However, several reviewers encountered some issues, most notably in the device’s ability to work consistently. Among the 35% of reviews ranging from one to three stars, reviewers mentioned that the device stopped working after two or three balls. Others reported the charging unit to be faulty, with the device being apparently unable to retain power. It is also only suitable for EU plug sockets, so British buyers will need to buy an adaptor.

At the low price point, complaints of this nature are not necessarily surprising, but they’re in the minority of reviews, and a great upside is the no-questions-asked money back guarantee that All For Paws provides, which was mentioned by the dissatisfied customers. 

Overall, the Hyperfetch Mini is an affordable and serviceable option for smaller dogs to play with, and comes without the risk of losing money thanks to the refund policy.

Franklin Sports MLB Electronic ball throwing machines for dogs

(Image credit: Franklin)

Franklin Sports MLB Electronic Baseball Pitching Machine

Best alternative ball throwing machine for dogs


Amazon Rating: 4 stars (1916)
Weight: 110 grams
Ball Capacity: 9 x plastic baseballs (provided)

Reasons to buy

Great value for money
Balls included 
Three adjustable height and distance settings

Reasons to avoid

Must be manually loaded
Included balls are not great
Requires 6 D batteries

Perhaps you’re not in the market to splash out on a brand new automatic ball launcher? No problem! If your son or daughter is a baseball fan, the Franklin Sports electronic pitching machine could become your best friend’s new best friend. 

The device is extremely easy to assemble and begin using, but does carry the unusual requirement of six D batteries, which are not included (a helpful tip from reviewers is to purchase rechargeable D batteries to solve this problem).

Six plastic baseballs are provided, and are loaded into the spiral feeder. A red light indicator flashes every seven seconds to indicate launch, which can be up to 30ft at three adjustable heights. 

The Franklin electronic pitcher is remarkable value for money for dog owners with tired throwing arms, providing hours of potential supervised fun for your pooch. 

The device comes highly rated by Amazon customers, carrying a four star average from nearly two thousand reviews, 53% of which are five stars. Many of the reviewers have caught on to the device’s fetch potential, saying it has been a great playtime addition for their dogs.

The bulk of the negative reviews are directed at the balls provided with the device. Reviewers commented that they “prevent the launcher firing properly” and “are “too delicate” to be regularly bitten by dogs. Resourceful reviewers found multiple superior options, such as the Juggs Poly Baseballs and standard Wiffle baseballs. It should be noted that standard tennis balls are not compatible with the machine. 

Understandably, dogs find it difficult to reload the balls independently. As a result, the Franklin launcher is a fantastic, cost-effective playtime companion rather than a leader like some of the other devices on this list. 

iFetch Too Interactive ball throwing machines for dogs

(Image credit: IFetch)

iFetch Too Interactive Ball Launcher 

Best ball throwing machine for larger dogs


Amazon Rating: 3.5 stars (900)
Weight: 5.6kg
Ball Capacity: 3 x standard size tennis balls

Reasons to buy

Fully automatic launch system
Compatible with standard tennis balls
Indoor and Outdoor use

Reasons to avoid

High price tag 
Fragile mechanism 
No safety sensor 

The iFetch Too was created to match the fun of the original iFetch, but with larger dogs in mind. The result is a larger, more powerful launcher that can be adjusted to fire balls (including standard tennis balls) from 15 to 40 feet. These settings can be chosen manually or set to random to keep your pooch guessing. 

Rechargeable batteries mean there’s no need for repeated purchase, and the device can be used inside or taken to the park or beach for outdoor fun.

The iFetch Too has accrued a 3.5 star rating from just over 900 Amazon reviews. The majority of the 4 and 5 star reviews (55% of the total) praise the simple feeder system, which reviewers say was “easier for my dog to work out than other launchers”. 

There are, however, a variety of issues raised with the iFetch Too; 21% of the total reviews are listed as just one star.

One of the most common problems listed is the quality of the balls provided and the impact they have on the device’s mechanics. As one reviewer observes, “the knurled wheels were already getting wear from just two play sessions because the balls were destroyed”. 

Another said, “as soon as the balls get wet, they do not work in the launcher”. Standard tennis balls apparently work better for the launcher, but the problem still persists over time.

Other reviewers observed that the high-pitched alert noise prior to launch was scaring their dogs, preventing them from approaching the device to deposit the ball. Additionally the lack of a safety sensor, like those found on the PetSafe launcher, meant that balls could be launched whilst dogs stand directly in front of the device, risking injury. 

Despite 41% of reviewers giving the iFetch Too five stars, there may be better options for those not willing to splash out on the premium price tag.

GoDogGo Automatic Thrower Machine
ball throwing machines for dogs

(Image credit: GoDogGo)

GoDogGo Automatic Thrower Machine

Best customizable ball throwing machine for dogs


Amazon Rating: 3.5 stars (110)
Weight: 4.75kg
Ball Capacity: Up to 25 balls (depending on use of standard or mini sizes)

Reasons to buy

Remote control capability
Variable timer settings
Helpful step-by-step instructions

Reasons to avoid

Higher end price tag
Inconsistent launch mechanism
Can’t be used indoors

The GoDogGo prides itself on being the original automatic ball launcher for dogs with the original model first hitting the market in 1999.

Unlike the other options on this list, the GoDoGo G4 is truly a launcher, prioritizing height over distance and claims to be able to reach up to 30 meters. As a result, the GoDogGo is only suitable for outdoor play (unless you have extremely high ceilings).

One of the device’s most attractive features for stamina-deprived owners is the remote control feature, which can activate the launch of one of three loaded tennis balls from a distance at 7- or 15-second intervals. This gives ample time for your pooch to collect and return the ball to the deposit hole, ready to go again. The device can hold up to 25 balls of varying sizes and materials – a major advantage over many of its competitors.

A feature highlighted regularly in the 70 five star Amazon reviews is the manual provided to get your dog used to the device’s noise alert system. One reviewer commented, “My collie is a nervous dog, so it took four or five days using the machine before she was confident in bringing the ball to the machine. Good, clear instructions and slow and steady wins the race!”

The device carries an average of 3.5 stars across the 110 reviews, and other positive comments center around the high launch arc and the flexibility of mains or battery power outputs.

As with most automatic launchers, reviewers noted the decreased quality of the launches after repeated use with the balls provided. As mentioned in our introduction, a top tip when purchasing a launcher is to buy rubber balls for better durability (just make sure they are the right size for your device!).

The GoDogGo is a more expensive option than others on the list. However, if your dog has a particular love for high throws over distance, and you have access to wide, open spaces, it could be a fantastic addition to your playtimes. 

How to choose the best ball throwing machine for dogs

Automatic ball throwers can be a fantastic addition to your pup's playtime portfolio. But with the variety of options available, it can be difficult to know what would be the best fit for you and your pooch's needs.

The most important factors to consider are your dog's age and size, your availability, and your budget. Some automatic throwers only work with small balls, which are unlikely to last with bigger, stronger dogs. Be sure to look out for the right breeds in the product description. 

Secondly, some owners may want a ball thrower that can operate with almost complete autonomy if they can't be in the room to lead the game of fetch. Others may only require a chucker to save their shoulder the stress! 

Finally, automatic ball throwers are not cheap pieces of equipment. Always make sure the seller provides a warranty, and keep an eye out for smart bargains that may fit the bill for a fraction of the cost (see our baseball thrower recommendation).

Are automatic ball throwers good for dogs?

“Overall I think automatic ball throwers are a great tool for encouraging your dog to stay active, improve agility and have fun” says Dr Lily Richards, “but it is important to remember they are not a replacement for playing with your dog!”

If you’re deciding whether a ball thrower is suitable for your dog, there are a few things to look out for. These include your dog’s size, activity level, general health and fitness, but also environmental conditions like temperature — you don’t want your dog overheating on a sunny day. 

It’s also worth noting that an automatic ball thrower won’t stop playing with your dog, which can actually be an issue with some breeds. As Dr Richards explains, “some dogs are very high-energy like collies, who are renowned for their obsessive behavior. These dogs may find it difficult to choose to stop interacting with such a toy, becoming overheated if left unsupervised, particularly on hotter days.”

If you’re sure that your dog can safely enjoy a ball thrower, then there are a couple of things to consider when choosing one. Look at the ball size to make sure it’s suitable for your dog — too big and they won’t be able to carry it back, too small and it’s a choking hazard. You also want a durable device that can withstand your dog’s clumsy attempts at reloading — avoid throwers with weak-looking protruding parts, as they can get knocked off and then eaten by inquisitive canines.

Which dogs should avoid automatic ball throwers?

Dr Richards would not recommend an automatic ball thrower for dogs with “underlying health conditions, particularly heart, lung, and orthopedic patients.” Instead, discuss an appropriate exercise regime with your vet.

Smaller dogs or puppies can enjoy an automatic ball thrower, but note that they can fatigue quicker and so should be carefully monitored for overheating.  Gentle releasing ball throwers are an option for these dogs to keep them safer, as they won’t be running as far or fast to catch the ball.