Dog barking is an age-old issue that pet parents have contended with forever, and 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 especially intrigued by the Bark Genie, a seemingly ingenious device from iconic alarm and home safety product leader First Alert, which the company claims is an effective bark deterrent. Once again, I enlisted my doggie cousin/canine correspondent, Knightly the West Highland Terrier, to evaluate this product and provide his review. As you may remember, Knightly reviewed the Hear Doggy! line of squeaky toys – which he absolutely loved, and this continues to be one of his favorite toys – and the Scoopeasy eco-friendly disposable pooper scooper. (Knightly's family was especially fond of the latter.) But first, here is some background about these products. 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, with an adjustable strap attached for easy toting that pet parents can use outdoors when taking dogs for a walk, to a park, and other such 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 compressed 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 table top or shelf, or mounted to a wall; or suspended from a tree branch; mounted to a fence; etc. As such, it can be used both indoors and outdoors. This also has three adjustable settings, which can detect three levels of dog barking. Both devices are battery operated; the larger Bark Genie even has a low battery indicator. My Canine Correspondent Weighs In I left both of the bark deterrent devices with my doggie cousin Knightly and his mom, my first cousin, Allison Folkart, for several days for their review. Allison said that she didn't have any 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. My 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 as of this writing. Granted, barking is not an issue with him, inasmuch as he's a cat. But since the device is touted as deterring other unwanted behavior besides barking, I thought I'd give it a shot. The unwanted behavior in question is his clawing the (new) furniture. I had been trying in vain for more than a month to train him to cease this behavior. I had previously resorted to dog training tactics such as using the Pet Corrector, and squirting him with a spray bottle filled with water, to no avail. So 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, cousin Allison wasn't entirely disenchanted with the Bark Genie. Inasmuch as Knightly is, at 6, a grownup, this may have been a drawback to its affect on him, in her opinion. "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, and can be useful with certain pooches (and cats) - depending on their temperaments.
Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.