As an addition to a dog’s playtime, the PetSafe is a fantastic option that will keep your dog hugely entertained while you take a load off. But like most of the market’s options, its technology may not yet be up to the task of running a full day of problem-free fetch on its own.
Adjustable ball-throwing distance from 10-30ft
30 hour battery life due to automatic on and off switch
Expensive dog toy
High pitched noise can take getting used to for dogs
Unavoidable 15 minute ‘timeout’ period
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The PetSafe Automatic Ball Launcher is marketed as the ultimate playtime companion for your dog and may well rank in our next round-up of the best dog toys.
Currently priced at £115 on Amazon Prime ($155 in the US) and weighing approximately 4kg, the Launcher fires out tennis balls (3 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 from a socket or loaded with six D Cell batteries (not included) for outdoor use. It's absolutely one of the best automatic ball thrower options.
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PetSafe Automatic Ball Launcher for dogs: features
The PetSafe Automatic Ball Launcher has multiple hi-tech features and adjustable settings to try to maximise your dog’s safety and enjoyment during usage.
The fully automated launcher can be used both indoors and outdoors for interactive play and, unlike some of its competitors, is water resistant for those summer days at the pool or beach.
One of the PetSafe launcher’s biggest advantages over its competitors (such as the iFetch) are the six ball angle variations reaching up to 45 degrees, perfect for the parents of high-energy dogs.
The device has nine adjustable distance settings, ranging from 2.5 to 9 metres, and its multiple power options (the included power cord or six D Cell batteries) allows for fun playtimes both inside and outdoors.
A useful, but perhaps overly loud, signal tone plays before a ball is launched to alert your pooch that playtime is about to start.
Additionally, the multiple built-in safety sensors are touted to keep pets and people safe while playing fetch. These include a sensor preventing ball launch if your dog stands directly in front of the gun, and a 15 minute time-out feature to avoid overexertion.
A major plus for the PetSafe launcher is its compatibility with standard size tennis balls, and is capable of holding three; this is preferable to certain iFetch models that can only launch small, patented balls.
At between £115 and £124, the PetSafe is somewhat middle of the road for the market in terms of pricing. More rudimentary launchers such as the All for Paws HyperFetch come in at between £55 and £85 whilst the latest iFetch Too model stretches up to an eye-watering £247.
PetSafe Automatic Ball Launcher for dogs: user reviews
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!”
A large portion of the four and five star reviews came from owners who find it hard to keep up with their dog’s energy levels. As one commented, “We struggle with pain to keep throwing his ball, so this is the perfect toy for us!”
As with all automatic launchers, many users have found it difficult to train their pet to use the feeder system independently but this should be a habit that develops over consistent use.
The most consistent complaint of the PetSafe launcher is the noise made prior to launching the ball. One reviewer commented, “I’m really disappointed that this product didn’t mention how loud the noise is. My dog was absolutely terrified of it and we could not have the box in the same room as he knew what it was.”
Several reviewers commented that after multiple uses, their dog became used to the noise and grew to ignore it, whilst another said the noise made their dog stand directly in front of the launcher “barking like crazy” meaning the device’s safety mechanism prevented launch.
To solve the problem, one reviewer found that tightening the bolts and removing 20mm from the pad next to the stopper and gluing the top back in place drastically reduced the noise.
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.”
Should you buy the PetSafe Automatic Ball Launcher?
For dog owners looking for a more relaxed day in the park or pool whilst their pet gets their exercise, the PetSafe is a fantastic option. Its throwing variations are among the most varied on the market and if the dog responds well to the automatic feeder system, there’s potential for hours of fun. However, several flaws with the launcher’s operating system mean owners of nervous dogs or those looking to leave their dog unsupervised with the ball launcher would be better looking elsewhere; the PetSafe is a fantastic playtime companion but may not be suitable to be the only ‘adult’ in the room.