Every dog, even a poodle, still has a little bit of wolf in him. The hunting instinct, along with protecting his pack, may be expressed in a different way today, but it’s bone-deep and not likely to go away any time soon.
This is why playing fetch is so much fun for them: they get to spend time with you doing something (they imagine) useful, and best of all it involves running after things and catching them. However, it’s not a real chase unless the ball goes far and fast; if you have trouble throwing it more than a few yards, your dog might humor you for a while, but it won’t be nearly as entertaining for them. Nor will it help much in burning off their excess energy and keeping them fit.
If you have joint trouble or some other difficulty with throwing things, you might end up falling in love with this ball cannon. Looking like a rejected prop from a Ghostbusters movie, it basically uses an elastic band to shoot a tennis ball up to about 30 yards out (angle it upward to achieve this).
Normal tennis balls work fine, although the manufacturer also sells non-toxic, teeth-friendly balls. (If ordinary tennis balls were actually dangerous, I would probably be guilty of murdering numerous mutts over the years, so this is probably just a gimmick). In case you have trouble bending over, you’ll also like the fact that you can use the device’s mouth to pick up balls from the ground, even while sitting on a park bench.
Unfortunately, just like you’d expect at this price, this product is reasonably rugged but not indestructible – the rubber band, especially, as it’s prone to stretching and breaking after some time in heavy use. When this happens, the easiest thing to do is just to buy a new unit.
Even if you use it a couple of times a week, though, you can expect several months of canine joy with it. It’s satisfyingly powerful without requiring much strength (you may want to ban using it indoors if you have young children). Most importantly, dogs love it: they quickly learn to associate it with playtime and may start bringing it to you whenever they’re bored.