Dog Barking Deterrent: First Alert Bark Genie Review

Does the Bark Genie Really Work? Our Canine Correspondent Tests It Out

••• Photo courtesy of Alissa Wolf

Dog barking is an age-old issue that pet parents have contended with forever. It has been the bane of mail carriers, delivery people, neighbors, visiting friends and relatives since the dawn of pooch kind.

That’s why I was intrigued by the Bark Genie. It seems like an ingenious device from alarm and home safety product leader First Alert, which the company claims is an effective bark deterrent.

Bark Genie: An Indoor and Outdoor Dog Barking Deterrent

I received two products from First Alert: the Handheld Bark Control device and the Bark Genie.

The handheld model is a small device that resembles a miniature flashlight. It has an adjustable strap attached so pet parents can easily carry it when taking dogs for a walk, to the park, and other public settings. This is designed to deter barking and other nuisance behaviors from a range of 15 feet.

This device requires manual operation via a button that emits a soft beeping sound when one wishes to curtail dog barking or other unwanted behavior. While this sound is barely audible to humans, dogs can hear it loud and clear.

The larger Bark Genie, which has a 50-foot bark deterrent range, automatically emits an ultrasonic sound that only dogs can hear whenever a dog barks.

This can be placed on a tabletop or shelf, or mounted to a wall. You can also suspend it from a tree branch or mount it to a fence, so it is perfect for both indoor and outdoor use. The device has three adjustable settings, which can detect three levels of barking.

Both devices are battery operated and the larger Bark Genie has a low battery indicator.

Our Canine Correspondent Weighs In

Once again, I enlisted my canine correspondent, Knightly the West Highland Terrier, to evaluate this product and provide his review. Knightly reviewed the Hear Doggy! line of squeaky toys (which quickly became a favorite) and the Scoopeasy eco-friendly disposable pooper scooper (his family is especially fond of this product).

I left both bark deterrent devices with Knightly and his mom, Allison Folkart, for several days so they could properly test it out.

Allison said that she didn't have a need for the handheld device because Knightly simply did not bark during their daily walks.

The larger Bark Genie was another story. Allison placed this on a coffee table in her living room and Knightly was none too pleased. Knightly, who tends to bark loudly whenever delivery trucks drive by, was frightened of the sound the device emitted.

"It went off three times," Allison said. "He started to tremble. He then jumped on our [family members'] chests and shoulders and cowered in fear." She further reported that the device would pulse whenever Knightly would bark, which humans could not hear, but he could. 

On the bright side, the Bark Genie did stop Knightly from barking.

Our Kitty Intern Gives the Dog Barking Device a Whirl

Meanwhile, I decided to try the handheld device on my furry "editorial intern" Murphy, who was 5 months old at the time. Granted, barking is not an issue because he's a cat. Since the device is also touted as deterring other unwanted behavior, I thought I'd give it a shot.

I had been trying in vain for more than a month to train him to cease clawing the (new) furniture. I had resorted to dog training tactics like the Pet Corrector  and to squirting him with a spray bottle of water. Nothing was working.

Just for the heck of it, I tried the handheld Bark Genie. Much to my surprise (and delight), it actually worked! Murphy immediately ceased clawing the side of the sofa; his face took on a startled, wide-eyed expression, and he then scurried away.

Although the device is not marketed for cats, I may be onto something here.

The Dog Barking Deterrent Bottom Line

To be fair, Allison wasn't entirely disenchanted with the Bark Genie. After all, Knightly is 6-years-old and grown-up. In her opinion, this may have been a drawback to its effect on him.

"I would recommend it for people with puppies," she said. "If they started using this with dogs when they are young, they might get used to it, and I think it would be a good deterrent."

While this may not be for all dogs, I personally think that these are very clever products. They can be useful with certain pooches (and cats), depending on their temperaments, of course.

Originally Published: September 10, 2010

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer.