Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Product Review: Chuckit!

The Chuckit!, by Canine Hardware, is a three-foot-long plastic ball launcher for playing fetch with your dog. It allows you to fling the ball significantly farther than you would be able to with your wimpy arm, and also lets you pick up the slobbery ball without having to touch it with your hands. It is one of the greatest dog things ever invented, and now that we have it I've no idea how anyone played fetch before that.

The current Chuckit! lineup includes eight different launchers, fifteen different balls, four flying discs, and nearly a dozen related products for playing fetch in every way imaginable. My Chuckit! launcher isn't on the website though. As you can see, it lacks an ergonomic comfort-grip handle and possibly some other updated features. It is a single incredibly durable piece of molded plastic that could probably withstand a nuclear bomb.

This is because my Chuckit! launcher is one of the originals. There might be an earlier version or two floating around, but mine dates back to 2000, and the company has only been around since 1998. There was a time when this was the only Chuckit! product, and I didn't have to specifically refer to it as a launcher. I can't speak for any of the new ones, because mine has lasted 14 years with not-quite-daily use. I'm not actually sure it's possible to wear this thing out. It is significantly older than Brisbane and showing no signs of wear aside from a few chew marks where he likes to grab it and play tug if he doesn't think I'm throwing the ball often enough.

It was origially purchased to play fetch with a friend's four Labrador retrievers, who actually retrieve. Brisbane is all about chasing the ball, but he has zero natural instinct or desire to bring it back. He game is to chase it down very quickly, stop the instant he has caught it, bite it for a while, and then drop it and wait for me to throw it again. He is not ball crazy, but he is definitely wild about the Chuckit! I have to bring mine to the off-leash dog beach because otherwise he will fixate on anyone else who is carrying one.

The original Chuckit! was made for tennis balls, but the company now makes launchers that throw smaller and larger balls as well. This ensures that everyone gets to play with a ball that will not be a choking hazard. Canine Hardware also produces a number of different balls that glow in the dark, bounce in random directions, make sounds, and roll or bounce in new and interesting ways.

Pros: Made from indestructible plastic that shows no signs of aging even after 14 years of being stored in a hot car. I can pop it over the ball on the ground, which means I don't have to touch a slobbery/sandy/nasty ball. It also allows me to retrieve our special Chuckit! Ultra Ball from strange dogs at the beach without having to get in biting-range of a potential resource guarder. Makes a handy weapon to brandish and makes me slightly more intimidating to sketchy-looking people and dogs on the beach.

Cons: I gesture a lot when I talk and occasionally hit people with it. Aiming is a tad hard and I sometimes land a ball (and therefore Brisbane) very close to unsuspecting beachgoers. Flinging a ball soaked in beach water covers me and anyone I'm with in a fine spray of sand and salt. Playing with it too often makes my arm and shoulder hurt in a manner I refer to as "Chuckit! Arm". Sometimes I wonder if the ergonomic grip on the new ones fixes this, but I can't come up with an excuse to buy a new one.

Bottom Line: This product lasts forever. If your current dog doesn't love it, it will still be around for your next dog. I have never seen one in a thrift store so I'm pretty sure nobody ever gets rid of them.


  1. Lol I know this post is ancient, but I just saw it now. Chuckits are really awesome for throwing balls long-distance, and slightly less awesome for people like me who can't seem to hold a long plastic thing in their hands and fling the ball with it without accidentally hurting those around them. I always try to be at least 10 feet away from other people when using this thing. :D

    1. Yes! I have tendency to whack unsuspecting people with it. Even when I miss them, I still manage to cover them with a fine spray of sand and salt. On busy days I also occasionally land the ball way to close to random beachgoers.