Reviews, Toys & Technoloy

Review: The iFetch Automatic Ball Launcher!

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  • Ollie gives these 9/10!
    9/10
  • Penny gives these 8/10!
    8/10

Ollie & Penny says...

These are the best thing in the world! I love seeing the little blue balls coming out as I get so excited! Tthis alone would be worth every penny for this product - says hoomans!

8.5/10
Overall

There was excitement overload in the Ollie & Penny household when this parcel arrived! The sausages are very excited to be testing out the rather fabulous iFetch automatic ball launcher device-machine-thingy!  Though we’re sure most of this excitement was generated by us, the sausages definitely picked up on the feeling and subsequently there was a riot of wagging tails & sausage bums to see what was in the box!

Penny is the tennis ball fiend in the family, though Ollie is partial to playing fetch too when the occasion takes him. Since his IVDD operation a few years ago he has been a bit more reserved in the ball chasing game. So when we were asked would we like the wieners to try out an iFetch we jumped at the chance as we’re pawsitive both sausages will love this new addition to their pack! 

photo-profile-ifetchI’m sure many of you have already heard of iFetch. Their signature product was launched a few years ago (2013 as far as I remember  ) and took the doggie toy/fetch market by storm, gaining them a lot of recognition and many awards from the pet industry. The iFetch was the first of this type of toy and was the brainchild of Grant Hamill in Austin, Texas. He was studying one day when their family dog Prancer kept dropping the ball by his feet, begging him to play fetch. After a while Grant grew tired of the game and asked himself “What if we made something that could throw the ball for Prancer so I can finish my homework?”

Thinking this was a brilliant idea, the iFetch concept was born and after many months of research, refining and prototypes the Hamills launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the project.  They weren’t the only ones who thought this was a fantastic idea and their Kickstarter gathered amazing support, raising over 4 times the amount our their original goal. The rest is history as they say and now thousands of dogs around the world have enjoyed their fantastic product! Ollie & Penny can’t wait to give it a go!

The iFetch arrived in two very sturdy boxes!

The iFetch arrived in two very sturdy boxes!

So iFetch UK kindly sent us the smaller model (thank you!), or as we like to call it the original model; this is just perfect for two dachshunds or any other similar sized dogs. It arrived by courier very quickly and the box it arrived in was very sturdy and bigger that we thought it would be. The iFetch itself came in an inner box too and you couldn’t mistake what was inside. It had the lovely iFetch brand artwork & logo all around the outside.

..may we present the iFetch!

..may we present the iFetch!

At this this stage the sausages were overly excited to see what was in the box. We couldn’t keep them waiting any longer. Inside the inner box you’ll first find the iFetch balls on one side to be totally honest we were a little surprised at the size of these. I think we were expecting your average tennis ball size, but these a quite smaller imagine about half the size of a tennis ball. On the other side you’ll find a small white cardboard box inside this is the mains adaptor to plug in your iFetch for mains use. Under this layer the iFetch can be found securely held in place in a plastic bag and padding. As we expected, it’s a very sleek, modern and stylish designed item. We already love it but will the sausages? Well let’s find out! Enough from us, we have two very eager dachshunds waiting to get a sniff!.. so down on the ground it went! 

The sausages circled the iFetch at first not knowing what it is or what they were expected to do with it. Then they had a good sniff and were very intrigued to what this new strangely shaped item was. Ollie was straight into the funnel where the balls go and then the front where they come out we think he had an idea. We thought this looked very promising as far as training goes. Penny quickly put us back in our place. She on the other hand took one sniff and trotted off. “not for me.”   Well, you can’t please every doggie.

Ollie is very proud of his new iFetch and wants to sow it all off to you!

Ollie is very proud of his new iFetch and wants to show it off to all of you!

There was nothing else in the box. We were expecting an instruction manual on how to use the iFetch with a training breakdown of how to get your pooch using it effectively. Unfortunately there was nothing like this included.  Ironically I think iFetch missed a trick here. So lets get on to the testing!

 

They are the best thing in the world!

 

So with the lack of physical advice included by iFetch in the box, we went online and googled for a bit of training help before Ollie & Penny had any further interaction with it. There are many articles and videos online with advice but we decided to follow one that the iFetch UK team had tweeted the sausages. It can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bZhgcOJJQ2I

This video walks you through the steps of how to train your pooch to use the iFetch independently. This means that by the end of the training your dog should be able to put the ball in the iFetch funnel by themselves. Subsequently they can have hours of fun! We’re not sure if they ever met a dachshund but that was easier said than done.  Dachshunds can be a very stubborn breed at the best of times, but we’re willing to give this a good go!

Let the training begin!

So at first we found training a bit too hectic with both sausages Ollie & Penny together. Penny kept doing her usual matinee performance ie grabbing the balls and running away. One ball wouldn’t do, she had to have all three!  That was all she was interested in. (they are a perfect size for here little mouth!) Mine! Mine! Mine! Should we have a Finding Penny film? 

But Ollie was very much in the zone and was ready to take on the iFetch. So we decided that it was best to proceed with training Ollie individually from the next session. I know, we felt bad separating the two  but it has always been easier to train them that way.

As we mentioned, Ollie seems to have taken to the iFetch right from the start. He very quickly got the idea that the blue balls go in the top and when the iFetch makes the launching sound it means the ball is about to shoot out. He gets so excited at this bit and as soon as the ball pops he runs like the clappers with his little legs chasing it! Stage one of rewarding him for bringing the ball back and dropping it on cue beside the iFetch was easy-peasy for him. He even started progressing to the second stage; sniffing and sticking his nose in the funnel when he came back with the ball, all by himself. So he knows where the ball is to go, it’s just going to take a little time to get him to the stage of dropping the ball into the funnel! More training to do, but we’ll have fun practicing!

After two weeks…

So we’ve had the iFetch now for about two weeks. We’ve been training with Ollie for 3 – 4 times a day for 10 to 20 minutes at a time, depending on Ollie. He doesn’t see it as training. ‘Playing’ with the iFetch is just total fun for Ollie. 

Vimeo video link: https://vimeo.com/ollieandpenny/ifetchreview

He has managed to progress in his training and drop the ball into the funnel on a few occasions all by himself ( ..sadly we didn’t catch this on video), but it’s still pretty hit and miss at this stage. He needs that helping hooman hand at the last stage of dropping the ball back into the funnel so the fun can continue. If we’re not around or if he sticks his nose in the funnel and the iFetch starts to launch without a ball in it (yes, this does happen quite a bit, they’re nosey little sausages really! ) then his ever so throaty daxie grunts of frustration start to bubble to the surface; ‘Where’s the ball hoomans? It made the noise, so where’s the ball?’

I think the next few weeks will prove whether or not Ollie can master the iFetch completely with some more training. We will of course keep you all updated on his training progress and then we’ll try and move onto little Penny to see can she be trained too, which is going to be a challenge! She really is a little force to be reckoned with and where tennis balls are concerned she is like a possessed hurricane! All of this is of course our fault, being the only girl in the family she got away with murder as a puppy!

In Summary – 8.5/10 

The iFetch & Balls - the pawfect toy for your dog.

The iFetch & Balls – the pawfect toy for your dog.

Both Ollie & Penny really loved the iFetch, both for entirely different reasons. Penny adores the blue balls , ‘They are the best thing in the world!’, yes she told us that! When Ollie sees the blue balls coming out he gets so excited too, this alone would be worth every penny for this product. Yes it is a tad on the expensive side , but if you have a dog that just adores chasing balls & playing fetch then this is the product for them and it’s well worth it.

The iFetch is perfect for indoor or outdoor fun too, we’ve been practicing indoors but we’ve also tried it outside in the back garden last week during the hot weather . On the furthest setting it was just perfect for launching it into the grass! It also takes batteries so you can take this further afield if you want to.

The iFetch ball - approximately half the size of a tennis ball.

The iFetch ball – approximately half the size of a tennis ball.

Our first impressions where that the balls are a little on the small side, although perfect for a dachshunds mouth, I can see this being a problem for bigger dogs, maybe the larger model comes with larger balls?  **ahum** We need to check on that! (update: yes the iFetch Too takes larger balls the same size as a regular tennis ball) The iFetch device itself is just perfect, we found the shiny sleek design very eye catching and easy to clean when those enviable slobber moments occur. The colours are very pleasing to the eye too! It is very well made, we can’t see it breaking anytime soon, but if it does there is a 12 month manufacturers warranty as well as a 30 day money back guarantee on purchase.

Some may feel it’s a little noisy when it starts to launch a ball. We’ll admit we didn’t expect this, but after the first go you don’t really notice it and as you can see from our videos it really is not that loud. I would go as far as saying the launch sound is a bit of a plus for the dogs, it’s a tell-tale sign the iFetch is getting ready to launch their ball and the pooches pick up on this signal very quickly and the excitement it entails!

The iFetch Ball Launcher…

The iFetch is an interactive ball launcher for all types of active pooches! It will provide hours of fun for hoomans and for dogs alike! It is very easy to setup and use, and can be set to launch balls at 3 different distances.

Penny - just dying to get her paws on that iFetch ball!

Penny – just dying to get her paws on that iFetch ball!

It comes with a mains adaptor and 3 iFetch balls. The iFetch balls are specially designed for the device. They’re 1 ½ inch in diameter, about half the size of a regular tennis ball, which will not work with the iFetch, in case you’re wondering. You are only advised to only use the iFetch balls and you can get replacement balls on the iFetch website.

We found the official replacement balls can be a tad expensive (£11.99 for 5), but similar balls, like the small Kong Squeakers do work too and are a bit cheaper as replacements if needed. For example if your pooch decides to chew them up or run away with them!! Pointing no fingers at Ollie & Penny!

Note: Balls are not suitable for larger dogs and could pose a risk of choking. IFetch advise you to be responsible.

What do you think?

Fancy getting your pooch to give it a try? See can they do better at the training than Ollie & Penny! If you pop by the iFetch website www.goifetch.co.uk you can grab an iFetch too! The original model that we tested is priced from around e127.70 or £99.99. They are also a few newer models including one for larger dogs, the iFetch Too and the new iFetch Frenzy, which we love the look of!!! Do let us know if your try them out!

*iFetchUK has provided their product for Ollie & Penny to review. All views and opinions expressed are our own and we have received no financial contributions for this review.

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