Automatic Ball Thrower for Dogs DIY: Keep Your Dog Exercised Without Tiring Your Arm Out!

Automatic ball thrower for dogs DIY
Anna Smith
Written by Anna Smith

You know that playtime is important for your dog’s physical and mental health. And you also understand how playing with your pet can improve your bond with him. Playing fetch is your dog’s favorite activity, but your arm gets so tired afterwards, and you can’t seem to throw the ball far enough. An automatic ball thrower for dogs DIY will make it easier for you and your canine pal to play fetch.

Here’s the good news: making your own ball thrower is relatively easy. As you will learn after reading this post, you can make a DIY ball thrower for dogs using materials that you likely have at home. You don’t really need to spend a serious amount of money to buy an automatic ball thrower. This way, you will save money, you’re your own arm from tiring out, while keeping your dog happy at the same time.

Continue reading to learn how to make your own ball thrower. Moreover, this article will teach you how to train your pet in using an automatic ball thrower. But first things first, we will discuss why playing fetch with your dog is a great idea.

Why Play Fetch with Your Dog?

dog catching a ball

Playing fetch is a popular and commonly-practiced bonding activity among canine lovers. Below you will find the reasons why people love playing fetch with their dogs:

#1: Exercise

Playing fetch is an exercise that can be rewarding for any dog. By playing fetch, dogs can run around and use their pent-up energy. But it also spares you, the owner, from having to run around. Your dog is the only one to run and pick the ball you have thrown, or a DIY ball thrower has thrown.

This makes a game of fetch ideal even for seniors and disabled people as they can play it with their pets despite their limitations.

#2: The Dog’s Natural Instinct

Playing fetch will also allow your dog to get in touch with his natural instinct. Most of us know that dogs were originally hunting animals. While our canine pals are now domesticated, their hunting instinct is still in them.

So when you play fetch with your doggie, you are giving him the chance to use his natural hunting instinct. Your pal won’t feel repressed at all. In fact, he will find it a great experience to explore and use his natural hunting abilities.

#3: Convenience

Finally, fetch is a game that you can play with your dog anytime. It is a simple game that you can play outside with your pet. You only need to have a ball and an automatic ball thrower to get the game started

How to Make a Simple DIY Automatic Ball Thrower


You can get a ball thrower for dogs for around a hundred bucks. There are also cheaper models.

PVC pipes

While there are plenty of automatic ball throwers for dogs available on the market, you don’t have to spend money to get one for your canine pal. You can make your own using simple materials, namely:

  • Three Pringles tubes
  • Cutter
  • Tennis ball
  • Lighter fluid
  • Pen
  • Duct tape
  • 100mm, 3-foot long PVC pipe
  • Drill

Making this DIY ball thrower for dogs is also relatively easy. Follow this simple step by step guide:

  • Empty the Pringles cans first.
  • Cut a couple of holes in the base of two Pringles cans. The hole should be the size of a pound coin.
  • Place the coin in the middle of the base of the tube. Using it as a guide, mark the base of the tube using a pen.
  • Cut out the holes using a cutter.
  • Get the Pringles tube or can which has not been cut. This will serve as the base of the ball thrower.
  • Using duct tape, connect one of the cut tubes into the uncut one.
  • Once the two tubes have been adjoined, get the other cut tube and connect it to the other cut tube so that it would sit on top of the two Pringles cans. Make sure the cans are aligned with each other.
  • After connecting all three Pringles tubes, cut out a small hole in the base of the launcher. This will come in handy for igniting the cannon. The hole should be around 1 inch from the base of the tube.
  • You can also create a blast or firing tube since this DIY launcher may not be able to withstand multiple firings.
  • Get the PVC pipe and drill a hole near the bottom. This hole should also align with the firing hole of the ball launcher.

That’s it! You already have a DIY automatic ball thrower for dogs.

To use this ball thrower, find a place devoid of people. The blast tube should be placed at an angle. It should also be anchored so that it won’t fly back and hit someone.

Prime the launcher with lighter fuel. You will need at least 2.5ml of lighter fuel depending on the weather. Drip the fuel in through the firing hole and watch the launcher throw the tennis ball at least 20 feet into the air.

An automatic ball thrower for dogs just like this simple project can take the work out of throwing a ball which can be tiring especially for seniors. As you can see, this auto ball thrower can launch the ball far, which should make a dog better engaged or interested.

Since you will be using lighter fuel, it is recommended that you use this automatic ball thrower away from flammable materials. Moreover, make sure that there are no children around as they may get hit by the ball thrown or launched by this DIY thrower.

What Type of Ball Should Your Dog Play With?

dog with a tennis ball

A tennis ball is one of the more commonly-used balls in playing fetch. The reasons are obvious—tennis balls are cheap, strong enough to withstand aggressive biting, bouncy, and easy to catch.

Moreover, tennis balls are easy for dogs to locate in the grass. Many dogs also love playing with this type of ball. But are tennis balls safe for dogs to use?

Tennis balls of today are made from rubber. These are molded, combined, and glued together to form the ball. The core of a tennis ball is filled with pressurized air so that it will have the right bounce on a court.

Generally speaking, tennis balls are safe for our canine pals to use. In the past, tennis balls had high levels of lead in the dye which were theoretically poisonous for our dogs. But that is no longer a concern as modern tennis balls now use a safer material for the dye.

Another potential concern is for a dog’s bite to be strong enough to crush a tennis ball into pieces, and consequently, the dog will swallow these.

Like any other toy, tennis balls can pose risks to our dogs. It’s up to us to take precautions. For one, never let your doggie use a tennis ball as a chew toy. You should also keep tennis balls away from him especially when you are not around the house. You should also dispose of worn out, dirty tennis balls.

In the following section, we’ll use a tennis ball as the main toy for playing fetch. But you can also use other balls which you think your dog will be interested in picking up as long as the ball fits into the ball launcher.

How to Train Your Dog to Use a Ball Thrower

dog holding tennis balls in mouth

Once you have created your own automatic ball thrower, the next question you will likely ask is: “how do I train my dog to follow the ball and pick it up for me?”

The first step in getting your dog to play with you using the automatic ball thrower is to introduce him to his new toy.

It is normal for any dog to feel scared at first especially since the automatic ball launcher creates noise. Keep in mind that just like most commercially-available ball dog throwers, the DIY tennis ball launcher discussed above can be noisy and thus may scare off your pet initially.

You can introduce the noise of the ball thrower to your dog so that he will not be scared of it. Do this by placing the unit far from your pet then throwing the ball using the launcher. Once the dog hears the noise, say ‘yes’ to your pet to reassure him that he is safe.

Remember, if your dog looks scared or threatened, then there is no reason for you to force him to play fetch. Take your time. Introduce him to the device until your dog gets comfortable.

There is really no need to rush him into playing with your ball thrower. If he won’t get near you and your thrower, give him a couple of hours until he becomes relaxed.

Another way to help your dog become acclimated to the ball launcher is to put a tasty treat beside the device. Whether he digs biscuits, ice cubes, or dog brownies, make sure you have enough supplies as these may encourage him to get near your DIY automatic ball launcher.

See Also: How to Cook Chicken Livers for Dogs

Once your dog becomes comfortable with your DIY ball thrower, then you can start with the training. First, allow him to see what you are doing. Drop a ball into the thrower, add the lighter fuel, and let the ball launch.

Encourage him to run after the ball, pick it up, and return the ball to you. And when he does, don’t forget to give him a treat to reinforce the behavior. Repeat this several times and continue for at least 10 minutes.

In case he won’t run after the ball that was launched by the DIY ball thrower, you can try to toss the ball yourself. Throw the ball a few meters away from yourself. Run with your pal and pick up the ball. Now go back near the automatic ball thrower and toss the ball again, but this time encourage your pet to fetch the ball for you.

You should also know that not all canines are keen on fetching toys. Some dogs tend to be picky about the things to fetch. It is not impossible for your dog to dislike picking up a tennis ball, for instance.

If that’s the case, you should try different fetching toys. The good news is that there are many dog toys of different sizes, shapes, and materials. Some are shaped like dumbbells while others look like bones. Regardless of the shape, the toy should be enticing and engaging enough for the dog to try to pick it up.

You don’t even have to use toys at all to teach your dog how to play fetch. You can experiment with other objects like frisbees or sticks. Then see if your dog becomes interested in playing fetch once he develops a liking for chasing these objects.

But what if your dog runs away with the tennis ball after picking it up? This is another potential scenario when training a dog to play fetch. Some dogs like to run off with an object after catching or picking it up.

One way to address this is to tie a long rope on his collar, so when he catches or picks up the item, you can pull him towards you. Or you can encourage him to follow you.

Don’t forget to praise him if he follows your command. Giving him a treat will also reinforce the behavior. Toss the object again and repeat the steps above. Be patient—your dog may need a few days or even weeks to get used to playing fetch with you.

See Also: How to Teach a Dog to Fetch

Wrap Up

happy dog with a ball

Playing fetch with your dog is one of the best ways to keep your canine companion healthy and engaged. It is also a good bonding activity between you and your pal.

Creating an automatic ball thrower for dogs is relatively easy as you have learned from this post. In fact, training your dog to chase and retrieve the ball could be more difficult. But as is the case with any dog activity, lots of patience, treats, and practice can get the job done.

Will you be trying your hands on the simple DIY automatic ball thrower for dogs above? Let us know how it goes for you! Also, check out our article on dog agility equipment DIY next.

About the author
Anna Smith
Anna Smith

Anna Smith resides in beautiful Santa Monica, CA, where she works as a Pet Nutrition Expert in a leading retail pet store. She is responsible for nutritional strategies for different breeds and development of new products on the market in compliance with Association of American Feed Control Officials. Anna's passions are education about proven methods and best practices in the industry and her dog Max, who is always well-fed.