Dogs, like humans, can be shy. They can also have PTSD from events, people, or things that have happened in the past.
In this article, we will go more in-depth with why dogs could be scared of cardboard boxes, how to train them to overcome their fear, and how dogs can react to cardboard boxes when they are scared.
Why Are Dogs Scared of Boxes?
Some dogs are afraid of cardboard boxes due to not being exposed to them or having a bad experience with them. More than likely, a dog may feel scared when he or she sees a cardboard box due to: lack of exposure to new objects he or she is not familiar with or a bad encounter with another box or object that looks similar.
Why Do Dogs ‘Freak Out’ When They See Boxes?
There is no one reason why a dog may feel spooked by a box but learning why your dog is scared of an object is always a good first step to helping them get over that fear.
It is possible your dog just does not like the object, but if he or she is freaking out each time he or she sees a box, it is important to help him or her overcome that fear.
How Do I Train My Dog Not to be Afraid of Boxes?
Like training your dog how to sit or rollover, treats will work wonders when helping your dog overcome his or her fear of cardboard boxes. There are other ways too if you do not want to use treats.
One option could be to put his or her favorite treat or food in or around the box and let him or her sniff around to get acquainted to being near a box without focusing too heavily on the box itself.
Another option could be to just set a cardboard box out during the day in a general area where the dog usually is. This way, if he or she does not want to be near it, he or she can leave the area, but if he or she is feeling curious, he or she can go up to the box and sniff it at his or her leisure without feeling pressure.
The more the dog is around a cardboard box, the more comfortable he or she will feel. Even if he or she does not go up to it or play with it.
What Not To Do With A Dog Who Is Afraid Of Boxes?
It is important to not force your dog to like or be around carboard boxes if he or she is not ready to be. Nothing is more traumatizing than forcing someone to do something they are not ready to do. If anything, that will make him or her not want to do it even more.
Here are some things to avoid when trying to help your dog overcome their fear of cardboard boxes:
– Throwing a box at them
– Putting them in a box
– Putting a box where they sleep
– Getting mad at your dog when they freak out
– Punishing your dog when they freak out
Letting your dog get over his or her fear on his or her own time is the most impactful and humane way to help your dog get over his or her fear.
Should You Comfort A Dog Scared of Boxes?
Would you want to be comforted when you are scared?
I’m sure the answer is most likely yes. So why are dogs any different?
You do not want to feed into his or her fear and hide or shove a box away from him or her, but you can pet, feed, or cuddle with your dog after he or she has a ‘freak out.’ It will help him or her feel less alone, which could help you when training your dog to not get spooked when there is a cardboard box around.
What Exactly About Boxes Is My Dog Scared Of?
There is no way to say exactly what your dog is scared of when he or she sees a cardboard box.
Since animals cannot communicate with us with words, having a ‘freak out’ is the only way for us to know he or she is not comfortable with the object.
Your dog could just be timid around unknown objects. If he or she is usually scared around people he or she does not know, that would definitely make sense.
He or she could also have a fear of a cardboard box not because of the box itself, but because of something inside of it.
There is no way to know, but more than likely, your dog is either timid or has been spooked by a box in the past. Whether that be a box blowing in the wind and bumping into him or her or someone hitting him or her purposefully with a box.
Hopefully, it is not the last one.
Why is My Old Dog Suddenly Scared of Boxes?
Dogs can develop phobias as puppies or, like children, randomly start becoming afraid of something. Especially if they are unfamiliar with them.
If you never use cardboard boxes and then all of a sudden you are using them every day to pack up your house, your dog may be confused. Since he or she cannot communicate that confusion to you with words, he or she will ‘freak out’ to communicate his or her discontent with the new object in the area.
Maybe your dog has been around boxes, but it has been a while. There is a chance your dog was not curious about boxes then but is now.
Or maybe he or she was not paying attention. Maybe with old age, your dog is more observant.
New or unfamiliar items cause confusion which can lead to fear.
My Dog is Getting an Increasingly Severe Fear of Boxes
Love your dog extra hard on these days! Make sure he or she knows you will support him or her when he or she is scared and congratulate him or her when he or she gets starts to get over the fear.
If he or she is acting completely irrational—hurting him or herself or others, disrupting your day-to-day routine, or acting out—may be putting away the cardboard box is the best idea.
Some days your dog may not want to work on his or her fear. Some days he or she will. Try helping him or her get over his or her fear on days when he or she is having a good day.
Maybe not right after he or she wakes up or right before he or she needs to be fed.
You’ll know when the right time is if you know your dog well.
Are Boxes Dangerous to Dogs?
While cardboard is not digestible for dogs, it is not toxic. However, he or she could end up with intestinal problems.
Look out for these symptoms if your dog has eaten a lot of cardboard:
If you are worried about your dog, but do not see any of these symptoms, watch his or her bowel movements for a couple of days to make sure everything is passing through correctly.
If your dog is experiencing any of these symptoms following a large cardboard intake, call your vet.
Can and Do Dogs Destroy Boxes?
Dogs can just about destroy anything if they really want to.
They have a natural animalistic instinct to shred paper-like materials, like cardboard, to make it feel like feathers in their mouth.
While letting them destroy your boxes could save you money on dog toys, it is rather messy and will create a problem for you in the long run.
Some dogs are scared of cardboard boxes and others are not. There is no one diagnosis as to why a dog would be frightened by the sight of a cardboard box, but it does lead one to wonder why he or she harbors that fear.
It could be the curiosity of the unknown—maybe your dog has never seen a box or been around them often enough to feel comfortable around the object.
It could also be a painful reminder of something that happened in the past—maybe your dog was brutally hurt by a cardboard box, something inside or around a cardboard box hurt or scared your dog, or something silly happened that startled your dog.
You will never know the true reason, but it is important to love your dog through his or her fear.
It is up to you to know when the time is right to start helping your dog get over the fear of cardboard boxes. You may decide you do not want to introduce your dog to a cardboard box.
It all depends on you and your dog.