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The 5 best ways to get your dog into your rooftop tent

Jan. 18, 2022

It's a long-standing dilemma: how to get your dog onto your roof safely and gracefully.

Okay, maybe it's not that old, but it's a dilemma that has plagued rooftop tent owners for at least a few years. It's a question our team gets asked a lot. 

I love camping with my dogs in my hardshell RTT. So I thought I'd share some helpful tips on how to get my furry friend into my rooftop tent.

Here are 5 of the best ways to get your dog into your rooftop tent.

The 5 best ways to get your dog into your rooftop tent


Take them up

This is the old faithful of the list: simply hold your dog in your arms while you climb the ladder.


During my ownership of Roofnest, I had two dogs that both weighed over 65 pounds. I'm a tall, athletic guy in my 30s, so taking my dogs up a ladder isn't a huge elevator.


That said, when I have friends with me at camp, I ask them to "protect" me. No, we don't attach climbing harnesses: I let them stand behind me while I climb the ladder with the dogs in my arms.


That way, if I slip or lose my balance, someone is there to help prevent me from falling. I've never slipped or lost my balance, but I don't want to take any chances either!


Creating a ramp

Aside from bringing your dog up the ladder, the next most popular option is to cover the ladder with a material that effectively turns it into a ramp.


There is even a retail product on the market designed for this purpose, the Doggo RTT Ramp called the Desert Armor.


Attach the Doggo RTT Ramp to your ladder, place the bottom of the ladder on the gearbox to lower the ascent/descent angle and entice your canine companion to enter and exit your rooftop tent on their own.


I've also seen some campers create their own homemade solutions with carpet rolls. the Doggo RTT Ramp is a solid turnkey solution.


Relay system - i.e. hand them over

Another strategy my dog-owning friends and I use to get our pups into our rooftop tents is to ask a camping buddy or partner on the ground to hand off the dog to you in the tent.


This is more elegant than climbing up the ladder with your dog yourself. But it requires that you have someone with you at the campsite and that person must be strong enough to lift your dog over your head.


This is easy for small dogs. I certainly can't pull a clumsy puppy like me hard above my head. So, unless your friend or partner is very strong, or your dog is small, consider another solution.


Train them to climb ladders

I don't have the time or money to tackle this, but I know it's been done: train your dog to run up and down a ladder.


Alas, my current pup is a 16-month-old Labrador who enjoys getting into our Roof top tent at night so much that he tries to climb the ladder on his own. His lack of coordination (and ladder angle) doesn't allow him to accomplish this task, but I appreciate his enthusiasm.


If you have an agility dog who is an avid climber - perhaps like a stunt dog - and you have the time to train them to climb up and down ladders on their own without a ladder cover (like the Doggo RTT ramp), you can train your dog to get themselves in and out of the tent.


But don't let me lie to you about how to achieve this expert-level training feat.



Why waste your levitation power performing party tricks for your friends when you can use it to get your dog in and out of your rooftop tent?


Just kidding. I know you don't have the power to levitate. But it would be very helpful if you did, wouldn't it?


Suffice it to say, there's no silver bullet way to get a dog - especially a big dog - in and out of your RTT. but where there's a will, there's a way.


If you remain patient with your pup and reward them with lots of hospitality in the process, any solution you choose can be successful.


Don't forget that lifting 8 feet from the ground can be stressful for your furry friend. So, take your time, reward them with hospitality and praise, and eventually, getting in and out of your rooftop tent will become a happy habit for your dog.


The Best Parks for Dogs

Once you've found the best way to get your dog in and out of the RTT, it's time to hit the road and take them to all the best dog-friendly parks in the country.

Not all parks allow dogs, which is why it's important to do your research to make sure the campgrounds and/or trails you plan to hike allow you to bring your dog.


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