Technology Stops Puppies from Biting

Posted on March 20, 2017 by Alice Kenny  |  Share

Students Discover Solution

Cute little puppies with their round eyes and big feet lose a lot of points because of their fondness for biting people. Why do these otherwise sweet puppies bite, students from Catholic Charities Alianza PS 132 COMPASS program wondered, and how can technology be harnessed to stop them?

These were pressing questions for 12 boys and girls in grades three to five who participate in Catholic Charities Alianza division after-school program, COMPASS NYC.  And thanks to their selection as participants in a citywide Lego Robotics tournament, they were not only able to solve them but also won second place last month in the Lego Robotics citywide qualifier in Brooklyn. 

Catholic Charities Alianza Dominicana Division provides after school dropout prevention, youth employment, and arts/cultural programs for students in Washington Heights, Inwood and the Bronx.


Catholic Charities works with COMPASS NYC to offer, at no cost, high-quality programs with a strong balance of academics, recreation, enrichment and cultural activities that support and strengthen the overall development of young people.

Now back to our students and puppies.  Our team of 12, self-named the “ROBO Titans,” were tasked by the tournament to develop an environment conducive to humans and animals, identify a problem and create a solution. 

Bothering quite a few of these elementary school children, it turned out, was the question of why puppies seem to accidentally bite them and what could be done to make it safer for them to approach and even pet them. 


So they used the scientific method, asking questions like:

  • Why does the problem exist?
  • Why are the current solutions not working?
  • How can this be improved?

They got together at our Catholic Charities Alianza PS 132 site over Christmas break to find answers.  And they used technological resources including Google Docs, YouTube and websites including the ASPCA and American Kennel Club to help with their research.

What did they learn?

Dogs go through a teething process at 5-6 weeks old which explains why puppies seem to bite or chew everything they see.  Biting and chewing does two things for puppies:

  1. helps their teeth grow
  2. helps them to identify objects in their space.

Now what about solutions?

This was tougher. First the students visited a local pet store and found spray bottles that prevent dogs from biting clothes, furniture and footwear.  But they found nothing specifically for humans.

So they did more research.  It turns out, according to the ASPCA website, that there are certain scents dogs dislike that have citrus in them such as lemons and limes.

Technology to the rescue

The team used this intel to create a bracelet that contained a citrus scent to prevent puppies from biting strangers.

Their invention proved so effective that they are now facing off in citywide semi-finals in St. Albans, Queens.  Perhaps better still, they put on their citrus-scented bracelets whenever they meet new puppies and no longer worry about getting bit.



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