Dog walkers know the drill - when you take your dog for a walk you want to do everything in you power to make your dog knackered without you having to walk to the moon and back. In steps Chuckit!, a gadget that aims to help exercise a dog by increasing the length you throw a ball.
Of course any ball with a piece of string attached to it will make it possible to throw a ball further, and so Chuckit! has evolved to allow you to pick up ball as well, which is especially handy when one lands at your feet, covered in saliva and dirt.
Chuckit! comes in two sizes to suit your height - standard and a slightly shorter, junior version - and includes a standard sized tennis ball. The standard version is 66cms long and is made of a flexible, lightweight plastic. At one end is a cup for scooping up and holding the ball. At the other end is a handle.
Using an action similar to serving with a tennis racket, a flick of the Chuckit! over your shoulder launches the ball into the air. In our tests with our stunt test dog Claude, we could easily throw it distances about half the length of a football pitch with very little effort.
However, we did find picking up was less reliable and depended on how the ball was lying on the grass - a bit like those lazy litter pickers in the high street. Sometimes the ball slipped easily into the cup, other times we had to push the cup onto the ball with our feet or hands. A tad annoying for as we said at the beginning we wanted to avoid that saliva, drool and dirt.
How useful Chuckit! is will depend on where and how you exercise your dog. If you find getting any distance on a ball difficult, Chuckit! will work well for you, however make sure you take him or her to a park big enough to make use of the extra throwing power.
If, like us, you're a rural dog walker then a neverending supply of sticks and stones will probably take the place of urban tennis balls anyway.