You may have seen the GoDogGoDog® Ball Launcher before; it's been around about 20 years now. I first saw it at the dog park years ago where a man was using it to play with his Jack Russell Terrier. (If you know anything about Jack Russells, you'll understand why the man needed an automatic launcher.)
A coincidence of two factors led me to look into the GoDogGo for my dog and myself: the first being that I just adopted a new dog who is part (crazy) Terrier and part Golden Retriever; the second being that I recently had surgery on my throwing arm.
Now there are many automatic ball throwers on the market, but I did a comparison shop and found that the GoDogGo was more versatile and had more features than the other ball launchers I researched, so I sprang for it.
The major decision-maker was that the GoDogGo has a unique ball launching feature: the ejection pattern is arc-shaped which keeps your dog safe from getting hit with a ball. Balls are launched high in the air so they won't hit your dog, even if he's large and is standing on his rear legs, as you see in the photo above. That factor was a big relief for me, assuaging my biggest fear - that my pup would be hit by the ball.
In this video watch how closely this dog stands to the ball ejector without getting hit!
Another selling point was that the GoDogGo holds up to 25 balls. Tennis balls, usually 2.5 to 2.7 inches in diameter, are perfect for medium and large dogs; Hyper Pet makes smaller balls for the little guys. Use balls that bounce! If tennis balls get too dirty on your playing surface, I suggest you try rubber balls like the ChuckIt!® tennis-size balls that are easier to keep clean. Just make sure the balls are not larger than 2.7 inches in diameter.
I also appreciated that the GoDogGo could operate on both AC and battery, as we don't have any electrical outlets near where we play.
The only thing a dog parent has to do is set up the machine for your dog and that's not hard but it takes a little forethought. If you are using batteries, insert them at the bottom of the GoDogGo (6 D cell batteries) and adjust the throwing distance you want the ball to go - they can fly up to 35 feet away depending on the size and weight of the ball you use.
You will need an extremely small screwdriver to remove the case cover - and you will need the same screwdriver to release the battery compartment for the remote control if you choose to use it.
I would start by testing the ejection distance from near to far before you permanently decide where to set the distance. You can try different size balls if you have them because each size will have a different projection distance. (You don't want to lose too many tennis balls in a neighbor's yard!)
After inserting the D batteries and finding the desired distance, you can set the ball launcher right-side-up and adjust the speed intervals at 4, 7, or 15 seconds between ball launches. If you are planning to use the remote to control the ball launcher, you will need LR44 or 76A batteries.
Then you are ready to go! But... your dog may not be.
Your goal is to get your dog to fetch balls and drop them back into the GoDogGo Fetch Machine. But there is usually a bit of training involved. First you have to train your dog to fetch the ball when you throw it and bring it back to you! This training should definitely be done with delicious rewards. Once she does this, encourage your pup to drop the ball into the GoDogGo basket before you give her a treat. This may take some time....
There's a great YouTube video by the family of Percy The Labrador that shows, step by step, what the training entails. It's a funny video, but it gets the process right. The video depicts exactly what happened when I trained my dog!
You need patience, but your dog will learn to retrieve the ball and replace it in the GoDogGo. Keep those treats coming.
While the GoDogGo is not really meant for indoor play, some dog parents have made it possible in a large hallway or room with fairly high ceilings and not too many precious belongings!
The GoDogGo is worth the money and will give your dog a lot of exercise and fun. You can set it up to "throw" balls automatically while you just watch and enjoy!
(Do not leave your dog alone while playing with the GoDogGo.)