Are Automatic Ball Launchers Bad for Dogs? We Ask the Experts

automatic ball launcher

Whether you have a dog that always wants to play, or maybe you are just looking for a way to save your arm from the strain of throwing a ball, you might be wondering if automatic ball launchers are the right fit for you. Many people are turning to automatic ball launchers as an alternative way to promote active play with their pets, but are they a reliable and convenient toy, or could they be bad for dogs? 

If they’re used properly, automatic ball launchers are not bad for dogs. Some dogs can get carried away while playing fetch and continue through pain and exhaustion regardless of which throwing methods or tools are used. In this regard, owners should always pay attention to their dogs while playing to avoid injury. 

If you’re looking for a way to spend more time with your dog without getting burnt out or are unable to throw a ball, then an automatic ball launcher might be something to consider. Read on to find out what the experts have to say about using an automatic ball launcher to play with your dog. 

What is the Best Way to Use an Automatic Ball Launcher?

Automatic ball launchers work by dropping a ball into the opening of the device, which then launches it into the distance. Most launchers are adjustable so that you can change the distance of the launch, and they are operated using either batteries or an AC power cord. 

Training Your Dog to Use the Ball Launcher

If your dog has never used a ball launcher, it might require a bit of training before you can actually use it. Getting your dog used to the noise and directing them to stand to the side of the machine is a good place to start. For complete directions on how to train your dog to use an automatic ball launcher, you can check out this video:

Amazing indoor nose work games to p...
Amazing indoor nose work games to play with your dog from Ruffle Snuffle

Don’t Remove Yourself from Play

Though many dogs can be trained to fetch and return the ball to the launcher’s opening, it’s important that you remain a participant during play. Studies have shown that dogs enjoy the human-centered play. They are also less likely to show possessiveness over toys if a person is playing with them. 

Actively playing with your dog also enables you to gauge whether your dog is feeling pain or exhaustion. If you notice excessive salivation or heavy panting, it’s a good idea to shut off the automatic ball launcher so your dog can take a break. 

Mix Up Playtime

It’s a good idea to alternate the type of play you are going with your dog. Too much high-energy exercise is believed to increase cortisol levels in dogs, putting them in a state of stress. 

Alternate the use of your automatic ball launcher with games like tug-of-war and hide-and-seek. This will not only give your dog a break from high-energy activities but keep them from losing interest during play sessions. 

Why Do Dogs Like to Play Fetch?

Fetching is part of a dog’s instinct. Today’s dogs are a product of artificial selection, and many were bred to fetch or retrieve specific items for their owners. Even though your dog may not be chasing down a duck or badger to bring back home, chasing after an object and bring it back to you is an ingrained part of them that has been passed down for thousands of years.  

Because it is part of their basic instincts, dogs are naturally good at retrieving. When playing fetch, not only do they get exercise from all the running, but your dog gets to spend quality playtime showing off their skills at something they are naturally good at. You know that fuzzy feeling you get when you do something, right? Well, it’s the same thing for a dog.

Fetch can provide mental exercise for your dog as well. Retrieving a ball is a form of obedience training that offers mental stimulation for your animal and reinforces basic commands. Plus, it’s a game that requires less energy from you (especially if you’ve got an automatic ball launcher), so you and your dog get more bonding time without getting worn out. 

Is Chasing A Ball Bad for Your Dog’s Health?

Chasing a ball or playing fetch only becomes a bad thing when there are concerns about your dog’s health. If your dog is overweight or has joint issues, high-energy exercises like fetch may be too much for their body to handle. In these situations, it’s best to talk it over with your vet to determine what kind of activities are suitable for your dog. 

How Long Should You Play Fetch with Your Dog?

You know what they say about too much of a good thing. Though exercise helps keep your dog healthy, and some dogs seem to have an endless amount of energy, that energy has its limits and dogs get tired just like the rest of us. 

Typically, most dogs should receive anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours of exercise a day. How long you should play with your dog will depend on factors such as weather, age, breed, and the overall health of your dog. 

Here are a few things to keep in mind before taking your four-legged friend out for a round of fetch. 

How’s the Weather?

Your pup needs to get out and exercise regardless of the weather, but extremely hot or cold temperatures will limit how much your dog can handle. 

During the winter months, be sure to keep an eye on your dog’s paws if you will be spending time walking on ice or snow. It’s also a good idea to consider wearing high-visibility jackets to stay safe. 

In the summer, make sure to carry water with you and be on the lookout for signs of heatstroke. You might want to consider switching up your routine to go out during the cooler hours of the day if it gets extremely hot where you live. 

“I Might Be Too Old for This”

Or even too young. Senior dogs and puppies do not need the same amount of exercise as healthy adult canines. 

Though puppies typically have more energy than adult dogs, they don’t have the same stamina level. Their energy comes out in short bursts, and they will tire quickly during play. It is best to break up play sessions throughout the day, so your pup doesn’t get overwork. 

When it comes to senior dogs, it is important to observe their behavior as you play. Though exercise is still very much an important aspect of their health, your dog won’t be able to run as fast or as far as they get older. Since you know your dog best, simply observing should show you how much they can handle, but you can always check with your vet if you have any concerns. 

Breed-Specific Needs

Just like people, all dogs are different, and the amount of activity your dog can handle is largely dependent on their breed. Dogs with short noses, such as pugs and boxers, may have trouble breathing if they work too hard. On the other hand, dogs that were bred for hunting or herding will have greater stamina and require more activity.  

Final Thoughts

Playing fetch is a great way to bond with your dog and get them the exercise they require to stay happy and healthy. Investing in an automatic ball launcher is not only a safe alternative for normal play, but it can save you from strain on your body and improve the overall play experience for you and your dog. 

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