Product Review: Nerf Dog Tennis Ball Launcher

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Good afternoon lovelies,

I bought this Nerf toy as a Christmas present for Hugo, owing to his love of all things tennis ball. I have to be honest, I had huge hopes that this toy would be really impressive and see tennis balls (and Hugo, respectively) flying off into the distance. Sadly, that wasn’t the case.

My first frustration with this toy was the use of plastic cable ties to secure the product to the cardboard. You know how it is in this era, everyone is a lot more environmentally conscious than they used to be. With that in mind, I would have actually preferred a moulded plastic tray over the gun and the tennis balls which I could have put out with the plastic recycling. Instead, I got a couple of black, un-recyclable cable ties. Sort it out, Nerf.

Before we headed to the park, one of my biggest fears was being ambushed by armed police. As ridiculous as it sounded, I didn’t trust that some imbecile wouldn’t report me for being in possession of a firearm, in which case I’d find myself staring down the barrels of half a dozen MP5’s. Fortunately, more people were impressed by my tennis ball shooter than had considered reporting me for possessing it.

On the way to the park, I experienced a number of bizarre encounters. How does one carry something gun-shaped without looking at all offensive? Hugging it across my chest looked desperate, and walking with my finger on the trigger felt somewhat dangerous. I made an effort, for a change, not to make eye contact with anyone,

I’m a 31-year-old woman with a toy gun, there’s absolutely nothing to see here!

Damn my credibility. Why didn’t I consider this before?

On the main road, I faced another dilemma: The zebra crossing. On any other day, these white and black road markings seem perfectly simple to navigate. On this occasion though, quite the opposite was true. When I moved to wave with my left hand, I looked like a string puppet and narrowly hung the dog in the process. With my right, I realised that there was nothing remotely friendly about waving a gun (even a toy one) at a poor driver. With that in mind, I opted for the most simple, least clumsy and least intimidating method of all: The gracious nod.

The gun itself is rigid and nothing about it feels like it will break very easily. Cocking and loading it was very simple, and I was able to send tennis balls out for Hugo at quite an alarming rate: Load the ball, pull back the launcher and fire, load, pull back the launcher and fire. It was simple, methodical, effective. The packaging also claims that you don’t need to bend to pick the ball up, but even myself, at 165cms, still had to bend somewhat to press the ball into the launcher cage.

Unfortunately, 10 metres on the packaging is absolutely nothing in reality. When I saw 10 metres on the cardboard backing, I was impressed,

10 metres is the width of a swimming pool! That’ll exercise the little bugger!

The simple fact is, not really.

To start even panting or to look even remotely exercised, Hugo needed me to send a tennis ball out 19 times. As fun as firing tennis balls into the air was, the dog really wasn’t getting much exercise and I had other things back at home that I needed to be doing. Because of that, Hugo didn’t really get the exercise that he needed. Even if I’d sent the ball out, at varying trajectories and for over 35 times, nothing I tried seemed to improve on the launcher’s measly firing distance. Even firing the ball along asphalt saw it dwindle to a casual stroll quite quickly. The idea was great, but the execution was pretty weak.

In the end, this toy won back a star for the simple fact that Hugo really seemed to dig it. Every time he bought the ball back, he’d drop it and wait eagerly for me to send it out again. Credit where it was due, I’d never seen him so excited by a ball launcher before, but he was clearly really enjoying himself. Once I get a bit more organised, I will certainly consider taking it (and him) down the park more often, even if only to fire a tennis ball a few hundred times for him.

If I could give this toy two and a half stars, I would. It’s of good construction and the dog very clearly enjoyed himself, but there was still some bending to load it, which doesn’t really allow for that no-bending claim. It’s a fun toy, but it’s definitely more of a novelty than it is a serious game-changer for when it comes to providing your dog with some physical activity.

Update 31/12/19: This toy has been opened for less than a week and already two of the three tennis balls supplied are in tatters. The tennis balls are not dog-proof and the squeakers easily come out which can be a choking hazard for your furry friend. Please do not buy this product!