If your dog has been tearing up boxes a lot, this post will show you likely reasons why and what you can do about them.

So, why does my dog rip up cardboard? Likely reasons why your dog rips up cardboard are that your dog is bored, frustrated or that your dog has learned that the behavior is rewarded.

There are a number of possible reasons why your dog rips up cardboard and it could be due to a combination of them. However, there are some things you can consider to help figure out the main cause and there are some things you can do about it.

Why does my dog rip up cardboard?

Below are likely reasons why your dog has been doing it and what would make each of them more likely.

Encouraging the behavior

It might be the case that your dog has learned that the behavior is rewarded. If you tend to give your dog things such as treats, toys or extra attention, when it tears up cardboard, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards.

Boredom

The cause could also be that it is bored and looking for something to stimulate itself. This would be more likely if it tends to act that way before getting exercise but it is calm afterwards. It would help to ensure that your dog is able to get the daily amount of recommended exercise for its age and breed.

Nature

In the wild, dogs would have to perform a similar act in order to eat meals that they caught. The reason why your dog tears up boxes could be that it has a natural instinct to do it. This would be more likely if your dog is one that is known for having a high prey drive such as a husky or German Shepherd. But, it could still be the case if it is not a breed known for a high prey drive.

Frustration

The cause might also be that something has been causing your dog to be frustrated. It might be because it has an injury or because it is being made to stay somewhere it does not want to be. This would be more likely if it has started doing suddenly since showing signs of injury or if it does it more in specific situations such as when it is locked in a certain room.

It’s fun

It might also be the case that your dog simply does it because your dog thinks it is fun. This would be more likely if your dog seems to be excited when it is doing it and if it does it when it is playing. In this case, it would help to give your dog distractions, a “time out” and to try to restrict its access to things that it might destroy where possible.

Things to consider

Below are some things to consider to help figure out the main reason why your dog has been doing it.

If your dog has always teared up boxes

If your dog did not always tear up boxes, it would help to consider what else happened when your dog first started doing it. If your dog started doing it suddenly, it could be due to things such as learning that the behavior is rewarded, a change in its environment or suddenly getting less exercise.

The timing of when your dog tears up boxes

It would also help to consider the timing of when your dog tears up boxes. If your dog tends to do it more at a certain time, the timing might have something to do with it. For example, if your dog only seems to be doing it when you are not around, the cause could be that your dog has some separation anxiety.

What to do about my dog tearing up cardboard?

Below are some things you can do about the behavior.

Avoid encouraging it

As mentioned above, your dog might have learned that the behavior is rewarded. Instead, it would help to try to reward your dog when it is being well behaved and to give it a “time out” when it starts tearing up boxes.

Give your dog distractions

Another option would be to give your dog things that it can be distracted by so that your dog is less likely to want to rip up boxes. Things you could give your dog would include toys and bones.

Ensure your dog is getting enough exercise

It would also help to make sure to give it the recommended amount of exercise for its age and breed. This should help to get it to be calmer around the house.

Redirect your dog’s focus

Another thing to do would be to redirect its focus towards something else whenever it seems likely to tear things apart. Things to redirect its focus towards could include durable toys, a bone or performing a trick that you taught it.

Can eating cardboard hurt my dog?

Most cardboard is not toxic so it should not be harmful to your dog unless it eats a large amount of cardboard which can result in a blockage often requiring surgery. As a result, it would be helpful to try to limit your dog’s access to cardboard as much as possible.

Why does my dog only tear up my stuff?

If your dog only seems to tear up your things, the cause would be likely to be that your dog has learned that the behavior results in you giving your dog extra attention and other rewards. Instead, it would help to try to give your dog a “time out” when it does it, to limit its access to your stuff and to ensure it is able to get a sufficient amount of daily exercise.

Author

I created and currently manage Pet Dog Owner, the website you can go to when you have questions about your dog's behavior. It is my hope that you find Pet Dog Owner to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your dog. You can read more about me and my website here.