If your dog loves to play fetch in the yard, but you don't always have the time to play, you may want to look into a ball throwing machine to keep your pup happy and healthy. It will never be a replacement for you, but in a pinch, a ball throwing machine could allow you to relax or multi-task while watching your dog play.
Start Off with One Ball
When you introduce the ball throwing machine to your dog, be sure to start off slowly and use only one ball in the machine. Use the machine to launch one ball, and then when your dog brings it back to you, repeat the process so your dog gets used to how the machine works. Never allow your dog to stand in front of the launching mechanism of the machine.
If you want your dog to return to you with the ball, stand at least two feet behind the machine so when your pup returns, it is out of the machine's launch area. You may choose to have your dog return the ball directly to the bucket of the machine instead of having your pup returning it to you so your dog will eventually be able to play with the machine independently. Whenever your dog brings the ball back to you or puts it in the bucket, be sure to use positive reinforcement and praise your pup so it won't be afraid of the machine.
If you've trained your dog to drop the balls back into the bucket of an automatic ball throwing machine, your pup can have lots of fun all by itself. Most of these machines are equipped with a safety sensor that will automatically stop to ensure your dog's safety. Although the automatic machines will free you up to do other things around your home, be sure to check back with your pup every so often to make sure the machine is operating properly and that your dog is safe and not overworking itself.
You can find much enjoyment and entertainment while your dog gets a lot of exercise by using a machine with a remote control. Once your dog has learned the machine's process, you can sit back, relax, use the remote to launch balls into your yard and watch your dog get plenty of exercise while having a blast fetching balls.
Supervision Is Vital
Whether you choose an automatic, remote-controlled, electric or battery-operated ball throwing machine, or even if you decide to design and make one yourself, your dog will need your close supervision until it learns the process. A ball throwing machine can be enjoyable for your pup, as long as you train it to use the machine safely. Some dogs don't stop playing when they are tired, so it is up to you to monitor your dog and make sure it does not get overworked, especially in the hot summer months.