We adore our pups as dog owners but have to face the busy daily schedules that sometimes take us away from our pets. If you are worried that your dog is bored and unstimulated throughout the day, perhaps an automatic fetch machine will help solve this issue.
Automatic fetch machines automatically launch balls to allow dogs to play fetch without human involvement. This allows dogs to stay active and stimulated throughout the day. They can play by themselves and have some fun while their owners are out and about.
Since automatic fetch machines made their first appearance on the market, many different manufacturers emerged to offer their spin on the machine. It gets increasingly difficult to narrow down the right one for your dog. This is where we come in!
We tested 7 of the most highly-rated automatic fetch machines and picked our top 4 favorites which we reviewed below.
Our Top Picks
|Best Overall: IFetch Too Interactive Ball Launcher||This award-winning machine stands out from the crowd with its slick design and inbuilt rechargeable battery. It is small in size and weight, but its launching abilities make it great for big and small dogs alike.||Check Price|
|Best for Safety: PetSafe Automatic Dog Toy Launcher||This automatic fetch machine has a motion sensor so it never throws a ball at your dog. It is great indoors and outdoors and has a 15-minute rest timer to keep your dog from getting exhausted.||Check Price|
|Best For Budget: Franklin Pet Supply Automatic Fetch Machine||If you want a great machine but stay within budget, this machine is a good option. It is great for small spaces, has an optional safety mode, and takes regular tennis balls.||Check Price|
|Best For Small Dogs: IDogmate Automatic Dog Ball Thrower||If you own a small breed you may love this mini ball thrower. It can be controlled with a remote and lets you choose increments of playtime with rest periods built-in.||Check Price|
How We Chose the Best Automatic Fetch Machines
For this test, we identified the top brands known for their automatic fetch machines.
We then tracked down popular stores that carry these brands and read and evaluated the top-rated automatic fetch machine reviews.
Once we narrowed down the top machines, we tested them with various breeds and sizes. We tested these machines against their overall value, durability, safety, whether they are easy to clean, and their power source.
We wanted to ensure that the top picks truly support any dog owner by being high quality, safe, and hassle-free. Something that requires maintenance or a difficult power source supply didn’t make it to our list as we want to ensure that our recommendations truly give dog owners peace of mind.
We narrowed down the automatic fetch machines to our top picks once we saw which ones our dogs loved right away and interacted with the most.
We landed on 7 quality automatic machines from all our research and picked the top 4 best machines.
Best Automatic Fetch Machines
1. Best Overall: iFetch Too Interactive Ball Launcher
|Easy to Clean||5/5|
Product Dimensions: 14” x 13” x 12 “; 12.35 lbs | Power Source: Power cord of 6 C-Cell Batteries | Manufacturer: iFetch | Ball Type: Standard Tennis Ball (3 included) | Dogs: Large Breeds | Best for Indoor/Outdoor/Both: Both | Launch Distance: 10 ft, 20 ft, 30 ft
What We Liked
- Awarded “Best in Show” at SuperZoo
- Has 2 options for power source
- 3 launch distance options that can be changed with by pushing a button
- Manufacturer provides instructions on how to train the dog to play with iFetch
- Good for small and big dogs
What We Didn’t Like
- It isn’t recommended that dog plays unsupervised with this toy
- No safety sensor to avoid hurting the dog
We were extremely excited to get our hands on this automatic fetch machine because of its high praise and award-winning status. Let us assure you that we were not disappointed with this product.
Sleek, white design that is easy to use and clean. It comes with a rechargeable battery or the option to use 6 C cell batteries. You don’t need to buy any special balls because a standard tennis ball will do.
These aspects of the iFetch were especially appealing to us. We know how crazy the dog toy inventory can get at home, so keeping it minimal with one type of ball is ideal. We also love using batteries and avoiding having a cord exposed to our chewers.
We are normally most concerned with value and safety when it comes to these types of dog products, and below we review these points individually.
One of the selling points to us on the value of this machine is durability. Most users find this product a huge hit with their dogs, and some reviewers say they’ve been using it for years. Our testing convinced us that this is a well-built machine that works for hours without fault.
We are also very interested in the battery life in terms of value – batteries are optional to buy, but we found that they last 3 hours when used continually.
We love that we don’t have to buy different balls because standard tennis balls work well with iFetch. This is great because most dog owners already have tennis balls for playing fetch.
This machine is well worth splurging on, especially if you have a large dog but the company does carry a smaller version of this machine as well.
Overall, we are happy to testify that this toy is fairly safe for your dog to play with. Although, one downside to this machine is that there is no motion sensor to detect if anyone is standing in the launch field. The manufacturer recommends supervised play for your pet.
Here at BarkVa, we are huge fans of dog training. We appreciate that the manufacturer includes some training tips to teach your dog how to play with this machine. We believe that proper training helps to avoid accidents.
To learn more about dog training, read our article on When to Start Training a Puppy.
The many awards and high reviews also tell us that this machine performs well and is loved by dogs and people alike. After our series of tests that included teaching our dogs how to play, we agree that this is a great toy and is worth the money.SEE PRICE ON AMAZON SEE PRICE ON CHEWY
2. Best for Safety: PetSafe Automatic Dog Toy Launcher
|Easy to Clean||5/5|
Product Dimensions: 12” x 12” x 12”; 8 lbs in weight | Power Source: D Batteries or power cord | Manufacturer: PetSafe | Ball Type: Tennis Ball | Dogs: Small to Large Breeds | Best for Indoor/Outdoor/Both: Both | Launch Distance: 8-30 ft
What We Liked
- It has motion sensors
- 9 distance settings and 6 angle settings
- Dog training is easier because of the audible tones
- Works with standard and small tennis balls
What We Didn’t Like
- Machine powers down automatically after 15 minutes
We were incredibly impressed with all that this machine has to offer – the motion sensors, different combinations of settings, audible tones, and battery life. It is safe to use for small and big dogs, both indoors and outdoors.
We loved how interactive this toy is and how much fun our dogs had when playing! One thing to note about this machine is that it powers down automatically after 15 minutes of play. This allows the dog some rest before the next session of play.
The durable build, smart design, and flexibility of use make for an amazing product that is worth every penny. As an additional bonus, it also comes with a 1-year warranty.
We love that this machine is flexible on ball size. It can be used with standard-sized tennis balls or small tennis balls that are better for small breed dogs. It can be powered with a cord for continuous use, or D-cells for cordless play.
This PetSafe automatic fetch machine lives up to its name! With the motion sensors and audible tones, it is truly a safe toy to allow your dog to play unsupervised. It is designed to abort the ball launch if anyone stands in front of the machine, or anywhere in the way of the launch.
Although some complain that the machine powers down automatically after 15 minutes, this is a positive thing that is included for safety. We especially see the value in this for our smaller dogs who shouldn’t exert themselves for too long.
This safety feature is programmed into the machine to create a rest interval after 15-minutes. When this rest interval is over, the machine will power back up and continue the game of fetch with your dog.
The audible tones that the machine plays when the ball is launched, the training guide, and the 15-minute increments of play will all help train your dog to play safely.SEE PRICE ON AMAZON SEE PRICE ON CHEWY
3. Best for Budget: Franklin Pet Supply Automatic Fetch Machine
|Easy to Clean||5/5|
Product Dimensions: 15”x 14.63”x 9.5”; 6 lbs | Power Source: Power Adapter | Manufacturer: Franklin Pet Supply | Ball Type: Tennis Ball | Dogs: Small breeds | Best for Indoor/Outdoor/Both: | Launch Distance:
What We Liked
- Affordable price
- 2 launch distance settings
What We Didn’t Like
- Power source through a cord only
If you want to buy something a little lighter on your wallet, this machine would be right for you. But don’t you worry, you will still be getting a value product with all the bells and whistles.
It comes with 2 launch distances, 3 launch angles, 1 ball, and a power cord. This machine is lightweight and easy to store. If you are gone for long periods, your dog will be well entertained with this easy-to-use fetch machine!
This dog toy is very durable and would be hard for your dog to destroy. If your dog has those tendencies, you can rest in peace knowing that it will be fully intact. To learn about more indestructible toys, read our article on The Best Indestructible Dog Toys.
Safety is our top priority, and this automatic fetch machine has a safety measure. Before the ball is launched out, it makes a sound to alert the dog. The dog will get used to that sound and learn to step aside before the ball fires out.SEE PRICE ON AMAZON
4. Best for Small Dogs: IDogmate Automatic Dog Ball Thrower
|Easy to Clean||5/5|
Product Dimensions: 7.48” x 7.87” x 6.3”; 3.48 lbs | Power source: 1 CR123A battery included or AC Adapter | Manufacturer: iDogmate | Ball Type: 3 Hard chewy balls (included) | Dogs: Small/Puppies (bigger option available) | Best for Indoor/Outdoor/Both: Both | Launch Distance: Not indicated
What We Liked
- Remote control allows you to control settings and throw the ball
- Durable build
- Great for indoors and outdoors
- Small and lightweight
- 15 minute rest per hour of play
What We Didn’t Like
- Will not work with standard tennis balls
- Limited warranty
- Shipping costs not covered if you need to return
Overall, our assessment of this machine gives us reason to believe that it is worth money.
A unique feature of this machine is that it comes with a remote. This remote allows the owner to have the machine throw out the ball at their command. We also enjoyed being able to set our preferred settings for the machine.
The machine itself and the balls that come with it are very durable. The ball is slobber-proof, chew-proof, and washable. Though it doesn’t use standard tennis balls, purchasing the right size balls is simple on Amazon.
They built this machine to withstand slobbery balls and keep throwing them. This is great because sometimes a slobbery ball will get stuck in other machines.
The battery life is great. We counted that each fully recharged play session will support 250 shots, which is a substantial amount of play.
This machine allows the dog to enjoy independent play. After an hour of ongoing play, the machine powers down for 15 minutes to allow the dog to have a rest. This gave us peace of mind knowing that our dogs are unlikely to overexert themselves.
To find out how much exercise to give your dog, read this article from the American Kennel Club.
When thinking about safety, we found that this machine isn’t good for large dogs because the balls are small and can be a choking hazard. However, a larger version of this machine uses standard tennis balls.
Unlike other models we tested, this machine does not have a sensor to monitor for anyone standing in front of the machine. We recommend training the dog to stand behind the machine before leaving them unattended with this toy.SEE PRICE ON AMAZON
|Products||Best Overall||Best For Safety||Best For Budget||Best For Small Dogs|
|Easy to Clean||5/5||5/5||5/5||5/5|
The best automatic fetch machine overall is the iFetch Too Interactive Ball Launcher. With its compact design and safety features, we found that this machine is worthy of the high regard it has in the dog community. It is rechargeable and allows for hours of fun and exercise for the dog.
How to Choose the Best Automatic Fetch Machine
If you have never owned an automatic fetch machine, it may be hard to know what kind of things to look out for when deciding to choose a machine.
These are the features that we found most important throughout our tests.
The features that allow for independent play are a huge bonus and a must, in our opinion. Many of us work long hours away from home. The interactive features that are easy for a dog to control and play with will help him stay stimulated, have fun, and exercise.
Type of Ball
Some machines take any standard-size tennis balls. Others require that you buy mini-sized balls from them. Buy a machine that takes standard tennis balls if you want to save money on additional balls.
Indoor or Outdoor Use
If you plan to let your dog play fetch by himself inside and out in the yard, look for a versatile fetch machine that does both. Look for a machine that can be set to throw gently indoors while being weatherproof for outdoors.
Size of Dog
Not all machines are intended for all breeds. We point this out during our reviews so you can make the right choice for your pup.
Distance Balls Thrown
Most of the best automatic fetch machines throw the balls at varying angles and across multiple distances. If your machine does not come with this feature, he may get bored faster.
Overall, automatic fetch machines are great for keeping your dog entertained, active, and engaged throughout the day. Learn more about the benefits of a fetch machine in this article by RHP Info Network.
Here’s a brief overview of the 3 automatic fetch machines that didn’t make our list.
1. Dporticus Automatic Interactive Dog Ball Launcher – Considered for Small Spaces
If your dog is small to medium-sized, this machine will be perfect for her! Lightweight and small, it will fit nicely inside your home and is great to move around. It comes with 3 tennis balls and has 3 launch distances of up to 30 feet.
You can use it with a power cord or batteries, which allows for use inside and outside the house. During our testing our small dogs liked the IDogmate Automatic Dog Ball Thrower better, so it made our top picks instead.
2. IDogmate Automatic Dog Ball Launcher – Considered for Bigger Dogs
This iDogmate automatic fetch machine is very similar to the one we reviewed previously by this brand. This one is built with smart technology and is suitable for larger dogs.
While we liked this brand for our small dogs, we prefer the iFetch Too Interactive Ball Launcher for our large dogs, and it was our overall top pick.
3. IFetch Frenzy – Considered for Versatility
This machine is known for its versatility and we personally love that about it. You can leave your dog alone to play with it because it throws out the ball at random distances so your dog will enjoy it!
This machine was a serious contender for our top picks, especially because it is a great one to take on vacations for fun with the dogs. However, we ultimately liked the PetSafe Automatic Dog Toy Launcher a little better, mainly because of the safety features.
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