If you didn’t know, we just got a dog and have been on the hunt for some doggy tech for a couple of weeks now. The latest product we’ve been trying out is the PetSafe Automatic Ball Launcher.
When I think ball launcher, I think tennis or cricket practice and in a sense, that is exactly what this product is. The launcher has 9 distance settings, 6 angle settings and will launch regular tennis balls into the air for your furry friend to fetch.
Inside the box are the launcher, a power supply, two balls and some instructions. The unit itself is constructed from plastic, it’s quite large but it’s very lightweight and easy to manoeuvre thanks to a carry handle. The launcher can be powered by the mains with the supplied transformer, or it can be powered via 6 D batteries if you wanted to take it out with you on a walk. There is an on/off button and then two rotary switches, which adjust the distance and throwing angle. Very crude rotary controls, it’s not easy to see the distance or angle you have specified, it’s more test it and see.
There is a small motion sensor located on the front of the launcher, where the balls get shot from. This sensor detects motion in front of it, preventing the ball from firing and hitting anyone at close range. The launcher can hold a number of balls and will continue to throw them out until replenished.
The launcher is very easy to use, put a ball in the top, step away and wait for the ball to be launched. If the sensor doesn’t detect anyone, you will hear a beep and the ball will launch shortly after. Return that ball or put another in and continue playing.
Distance can vary between 8 and 32 feet, with angles upto 45 degree. As mentioned earlier, it’s hard to distinguish between the 9 distance settings but I only ever used the longest setting with my dog, at 45 degree, as that was the most fun for my medium sized pooch. I had read elsewhere concerns over the noise of the launcher and it sometimes scaring dogs but that wasn’t the case for em and I personally didn’t think it was that loud.
The beep attracts the dog, so then he stands in front of the sensor, which then means the ball doesn’t get launched. This happened on a few occasions and I had to call him over. So we know the sensor works well but it detects motion, so I stood in front of it, I didn’t move and then the ball launched, so there is potential for your dog to get
There is a 15 minute playtime setting on this, which cannot be adjusted or turned off and means that the launcher goes into a rest period for a further 15 minutes before launching another ball. It makes sense, I understand the logic behind it and my dog was panting after 15 minutes but not having the ability to change the setting or turn it off, is quite limiting and 15 minutes may not be enough for larger, more active dogs. It may have been a fluke but I did manage to override this by turning the unit on and off a couple of times.
My dog loved it and my children thought it was hilarious. It’s not perfect, the build quality is a little to be desired and there could be more functionality and control but in some circumstances, this could be the perfect solution to keeping your dog active. I’m off to buy some more balls, my dog just destroys them!
It’s available now from major retailers for around £110.