This automatic fetch machine will keep your dog busy for hours
No more sore arms from too much fetch!
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Have you ever thought about why dogs love fetch so much? My dog Addy is more than willing to chase a ball for hours on end—as long as you’re throwing it, she’s going to chase it. Personally, it doesn’t seem like that much fun, but if it makes her happy, who am I to question it?
When we heard about the GoDogGo Fetch Machine, which launches balls for your pooch, my first thought was that it would be perfect for Addy. However, other automatic fetch machines have less-than-impressive reputations, as they’re prone to jamming and breaking, so we wanted to try this one out for ourselves to see if the machine was really worth its (high) price.
What is the GoDogGo Fetch Machine?
The GoDogGo Fetch Machine is an automatic ball launcher for dogs—in fact, the company claims it was the first auto launcher, as it’s been around since 1999.
The whole concept is really simple: The machine will launch any balls between 1.75 and 2.6 inches in diameter for your dog—without you having to lift a finger. The machine can hold up to 25 balls at a time, and it can easily be reloaded by dropping balls in the green bucket on top of the unit.
How do you set it up?
All in all, we thought the GoDogGo Fetch Machine was easy to set up and use. First, you have to decide whether you’re going to plug it into an outlet or install batteries (not included). I decided to drag an extension cord from the house to the field where Addy plays, mostly because we didn’t have enough D batteries on-hand. In the future, though, it would definitely be easier to have the machine run off batteries.
From there, you need to adjust the distance setting, which is located on the bottom of the unit. It’s essentially just an elasticized tab that you place into the low, medium, or high slot, depending on how far you want the machine to propel the ball. We picked high to start, because our field is huge and… why not?
Next, we loaded the three included balls into the GoDogGo’s upper bucket, and they rolled down into position. From there, all that was left to do was turn the machine on and select a “time setting” on the unit’s control pad. You can have the machine launch a ball every 4, 7, or 15 seconds, and we decided on 15 to start. Then, it automatically starts launching!
Alternatively, you can use the included remote to program and/or control the machine. It works as long as you’re within 50 feet of the unit, allowing you to set the time interval or launch balls one at a time.
How does it work?
I think the beauty of the GoDogGo Fetch Machine is that it’s fairly simple in its design. From what I can tell (without dissecting the machine), its inner workings are operated by a simple elastic band. When you adjust the distance setting, it pulls the band tighter (or makes it looser), and when it lets go, the attached lever whacks the ball, sending it flying. The machine resets itself, waits the set number of seconds, and repeats the process.
As long as the machine is on automatic, this process will repeat as long as balls are feeding into the launch area. There's also a sensor that tells the machine to stop launching balls when the bucket is empty.
Everything we loved about the automatic fetch machine
After several afternoons of playing fetch with the GoDogGo machine, Addy and I were really impressed. The unit proved to be easy to use, and Addy loved being able to chase ball after ball—we ended up using several other balls, including her favorite Chuckit! ones, along with the three provided.
The unit winds up before launching a ball, and Addy quickly learned that the noise signaled a ball was coming. With a little guidance, she knew to back up to be clear of the ball’s path and not get pegged in the head. On its highest distance setting, the launcher sent balls soaring around 40 or 50 feet into the field, and the brand says this distance will vary depending on the type ball being used.
As I expected, Addy loved the GoDogGo machine, and she happily spent hours chasing after the balls it launched across our yard. When we played, she would bring the balls back to the general area of the machine, but if I could teach her to load them back into the bucket, I think she would happily play by herself.
Here’s what we didn’t like
There were a few small details about the GoDogGo Fetch Machine that didn’t impress us. First, the three balls included with the machine are really cheap—Addy was able to rip the cover off one of them in a matter of minutes. Given the price of the machine, I think the company could at least provide more durable balls.
Second, the launch distance really doesn’t vary that much between settings. On high, the machine launches balls around 40 or 50 feet, and on low, it still sends them around 30 feet. With that in mind, it might not be the best option if you have a smaller yard.
Finally, I found it challenging to train Addy to load balls back into the launcher’s bucket. She’s a smart dog and picks up tricks quickly, yet she couldn’t grasp the concept of dropping the ball back into the machine. Because she didn’t "get it," I ended up having to collect the balls and reload them myself, which kind of defeated the purpose of the machine, in my opinion.
Should you buy the GoDogGo Fetch Machine?
If you’re tired of playing endless games of fetch with your dog, the GoDogGo Fetch Machine is definitely an appealing option. While the machine is easy to use and super fun for dogs, it might not be the best option for everyone.
Why? First, you need to have ample space to use it—we’re talking an open space of at least 30 feet—and I definitely wouldn’t recommend trying to use this machine indoors. You’ll also need to determine whether your dog will be able to grasp the concept of reloading the balls. If not, their playtime will be short-lived, and you’ll find yourself having to collect balls from all over your yard.
However, if you have a big open yard and a trainable pooch, chances are you’ll love the GoDogGo Fetch Machine. The machine is incredibly fun for play with—something Addy will attest to—and the various settings and features make it easy to tailor the game to your dog’s preferences.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.