Handcrafted Cardboard ‘Dogs’ A Common Fixture in China’s College Dorms

During the on-again, off-again campus lockdowns in China, college students have turned to a new hobby to stay sane: crafting cardboard pets

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1:43 PM HKT, Thu November 10, 2022 1 mins read

Many universities across China are still imposing restrictive Covid-19 policies. Some students have expressed their anger through protest, while others are finding new ways to maintain sanity, for example, by creating ‘pets’ out of cardboard boxes.

On most campuses in China, pets are not allowed in dorms. However, by using old boxes and a little imagination, young animal lovers have found a creative way to bring their pet-ownership dreams to life.

Guan Xiaotong, a sophomore film major, made a cardboard canine with her dormmates a week ago. She told RADII they even crafted paper ‘food’ for the handcrafted pooch.

“Doesn’t it sound childish?” Guan jokes. “Although we’re college students, we still have fun with this.”

college pet cardboard

Image courtesy of Guan Xiaotong

Over the past few weeks, multiple hashtags related to the cardboard pet craze have been popular on Chinese social media, with netizens sharing photos of their handmade cardboard creations. On China’s famous lifestyle platform Xiaohongshu, posts featuring cardboard dogs are a common fixture under the hashtag ‘college students in lockdown,’ which has received 390 million views.

college pet

Tutorials for making cardboard dogs. Screengrab via Xiaohongshu

Yang Zenan, who studies automation at a Guangzhou-based college, also recently created a homemade dog. Yang’s campus has been subjected to regular lockdowns for nearly three years.

“I’m not sure who started it, but one day we saw it was trending on Xiaohongshu and decided to give it a shot,” says Yang.

college pet

Screengrab via Xiaohongshu

In addition to dogs, some students are transforming boxes into cats, sheep, dinosaurs, and even cockroaches. As seen below, cartoon characters are also being recreated in cardboard, including Pochita from the hit anime Chainsaw Man and Dio from the Japanese manga series JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure.


Screengrab via Xiaohongshu

“There’s a saying in China: ‘It might be too childish for kids, but it’s perfect for adults,’” Guan laughs. “And that’s what we like about handcrafting cardboard dogs. We simply need [this distraction] during this tedious lockdown.”

Cover image designed by Haedi Yue

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