Right out of the box, the launcher is pretty much already assembled for you. All you need to do is power it up, either by plugging in the included power adapter or installing six D-cell batteries (not included). Then, find a flat surface on the ground either outdoors or indoors with enough room for your dog to chase. The carry handle at the top makes it easy to transport the launcher to different locations.
Once you've found some place to put it, flip the power switch and you should hear a beep to let you know that it's on. Then, drop a tennis ball into the hopper (PetSafe includes two with the product) and the machine will beep a few times and make a mechanical whirring noise to signal that the ball is about to come flying out.
Two controls will help you customize your experience with the machine. The paw print-shaped knob lets you adjust the angle at which the ball is launched. To increase the height of the angle, pull out the knob and turn it left; to decrease, turn it right. The tennis ball-shaped dial works the same way, but controls how far the ball is launched. There are nine distance options ranging from 8 to 30 feet.
For the safety of you and your dog, there is a motion sensor inside the launch pocket that picks up on movement up to 7 feet in front of the machine. It will pause the launch momentarily and resume when there is no more movement.
After 15 minutes of play, the launcher automatically enters a 15-minute rest period, then beeps when it's back on again. You can override the rest mode by switching it off, waiting 10 seconds, and switching it back on.
PetSafe includes an operating and training guide offering instructions and tips for teaching your dog how to use the launcher.
It requires basically no assembly and offers two different power options so you use it anywhere, even if you're not somewhere near a power outlet. It's great for long distance fetch; using the controls, you can adjust it to shoot out the ball up to 30 feet.
If you have a dog with a seemingly endless supply of energy, you'll appreciate that this launcher sends them running long distances during a game of fetch and lets you keep the fun going even when your arm needs a break.
Training your dog to use the launcher can be a slow process and it might frighten them at first. It makes a loud popping noise and shakes around when it releases the ball, which initially made Dewey pretty uneasy around it. Fortunately after enough treats and positive reinforcement, he's now comfortable enough to chase after the ball, although he still keeps his distance. Eventually, you may be able to work up to the point where your dog will learn to drop the ball into the hopper all on their own.
With regard to the sensor, we noticed a few moments where Dewey walked into the launch path before the ball was about to come out, but the machine didn't register him and went off anyway. Luckily no one got hurt, but we had a few close calls. We think you'll want to be careful to make sure no dog or person goes near the launch pocket while the ball is inside and the machine is turned on.
6 D batteries required
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