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in Camping / by Nick Jaynes

It’s a conundrum as old as time: How to safely and elegantly get your dog up into your Roofnest.

Well, maybe it’s not that old, but it’s a puzzle that has vexed Roofnest owners for at least a few years. And it’s a question that the Roofnest team gets asked about frequently. 

I love camping in my hard shell RTT with my dogs — so much so that I wrote a blog about it earlier this summer. So I thought I’d share a couple helpful tips about how I get my furry friends up into my Roofnest.

Just in time for National Dog Day (August 26th), here are 5 of the best ways to get your dog into your roof top tent.

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Carry Them up

This is the Old Faithful of the list: simply carry your dog in your arms while you climb the ladder.

The two dogs I’ve had during my Roofnest ownership both weighed more than 65 pounds. I’m a tall, athletic fellow in my mid-30s, so carrying my dogs up the ladder isn’t a huge lift.

That said, when I have friends at camp with me, I ask them to “belay” me. No, we don’t hook up climbing harnesses: I have them stand behind me while I climb the ladder with my dog in my arms.

That way, should I slip or lose my balance, there’s someone there to help prevent me from falling. I’ve never slipped or lost balance yet, but I’m not trying to risk it, either!

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Create a Ramp

Short of carrying your dog up the ladder, the next most popular option is to cover the ladder in a material that effectively transforms it into a ramp.

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

Attach the Doggo RTT Ramp to your ladder, put the bottom of the ladder on a gearbox to lower the angle of ascent/descent, and coax your canine companion to run themselves in and out of your roof top tent.

I’ve also seen some campers create their own homemade solutions with rolls of carpet. For those of you who aren’t too keen on MacGyver-ing it, the Doggo RTT Ramp is a solid turnkey solution.

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Relay System — i.e., Hand Them Over

Another strategy me and my dog-owning friends have employed to get our pups into our roof top tents is to ask a camping buddy or partner on the ground to hand the dog up to you in the tent.

This is slightly more elegant than carrying your dog up the ladder yourself. But it requires you have someone with you at camp, and for that person to be strong enough to hoist your dog up above their head.

This is easy with smaller dogs. I certainly couldn’t deadlift chonky pups like mine above my head. So unless your friend or partner is very strong or your dog is on the smaller side, consider another solution.

Train Them to Climb the Ladder

I don’t have the time or wherewithal for this solution, but I know it’s been done: train your dog to run up and down the ladder.

Heck, my current pup, Arlo, a 16-month-old Labrador, loves getting into our Roofnest so much in the evenings that he tries to climb the ladder himself. He is neither coordinated enough (nor is the ladder at an appropriate angle) to allow him to complete this task, but I appreciate his eagerness.

If you have a nimble dog that’s keen on climbing — perhaps like 14er pro Ian Krammer’s famous stunt dogand you have the time to devote to training them to climb up and down the ladder on their own without a ladder cover (like the Doggo RTT Ramp), you could train your dog to let themselves in and out of the tent.

But don’t get me lying to you on how to achieve this expert-level training feat.

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Levitation

Why waste your power of levitation on performing party tricks for your friends when you could be using it to get your dog in and out of your Roofnest roof top tent?

Just kidding. I know you don’t have the power of levitation. But it’d be super helpful if you did, right?

Suffice it to say, there’s no silver-bullet way of getting dogs — especially big dogs — in and out of your Roofnest RTT. But where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Any solution you choose can be successful if you remain patient with your pup and reward them with lots of treats during the process.

Don’t forget that getting hoisted up 8 feet off the ground can be stressful for your furry friend. So, take it slow, reward them a lot with treats and praise, and eventually, getting in and out of your roof top tent will become a happy habit for your dog.

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Best National Parks for Dogs

Once you’ve figured out the best method to get your dog in and out of your RTT, it’s time to hit the road and bring them to all the best dog-friendly National Parks around the country.

Not all National Parks allow dogs, which is why it’s important to do your research to make sure the campsite and/or trails you plan to hike will allow you to bring your dog.

Discover 6 dog-friendly National Parks that you and your canine companion can explore this year >

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