Dogs in truck bed under camper shell?

JJEH

Observer
I've seen online conversations about having dogs in the truck bed under a camper shell, or -topper, or -caps or whatever they are called in your region.

Initially we wanted to get a SUV again but with the 2021 Durango being $55K and the 2022 Wagoneer being $78K we have decided to keep our 2018 RAM. We love it and we have zero issues with it. Its got 40K miles on it, PWR train warranty is 5yr/60K (they reduced it from 5yr/100K) and the extended warranty is 7yr/100K. Its got all the options we want.

So we think about putting a camper shell on it.

I've already inquired with LEER, ARE and Ranch. LEER offers a sliding window in the front, while ARE even offers one that completely tilts and has dog screens on them as well.
Ranch was recommended to me, I've not heard of them before.

Now, obviously my biggest concern is heat and cold.

Do you think the sliding window in the truck can deliver enough heat/cold through the little window into the shell? Perhaps an additional 12V fan would help?
A rooftop a/c unit?

Has anyone here done something like this?

Any info/help would be appreciated
 

malibubts

Adventurer
I have a crate in my cab since I have enough room and don't use the back seat but I assume you need that space open? As you know the floor back there isn't flat so I DIYed a Goose Geear type of seat delete / floor leveler and attached some L Track for tie downs.


IMG_3111
by ebeiersdorfer, on Flickr

But back to in the bed, my dad has a Ram as well for a hunting/lake truck and keeps crates back there. Stole all my ideas with the cap and the Decked drawers, but he wanted the back seats open. I don't have the best pictures of the setup, but here's one from our last trip the the U.P.



Looping back around heat is your biggest enemy. He's got the cab slider and the slider on the cap, think you'll for sure want that if you decide to go this route. Then he's got a 12V fan to cycle air from the cab back into the cap. He also found this inflatable 'boot' to help seal up the connection a bit. Just have to pre-cool the truck a bit and you're good to go. You can do the same thing for heat, but really they'll keep warmer than they will cool. We usually pipe some heat back from the dogs before heading to bed and throw a sleeping back over the crates down into the 20s at night and they are still pretty toasty in the morning.

Dedicated heating and cooling is probably a bit overkill if you just keep an eye on things, have the sliders, some time, and a fan.
 
Last edited:

Clrussell

Member
Are we talking camping with the dog or traveling?

I don’t want to put my pup under the truck cap unless it’s at night and well vented. I wrong travel with him in the bed of the truck either, I don’t trust it enough with the heat we get here.
 

skyfree

Active member
> Do you think the sliding window in the truck can deliver enough heat/cold through the little window into the shell?

No, it will probably make heat worse by opening it. The glass in the cab will pick up heat rapidly. Cold won't make much difference whether open or closed. You need screened side windows in the camper shell to shed heat. A shell on a truck is far better than an SUV with the windows rolled up. A powered roof vent will make it better but...

what kind of dog(s) are we talking about? A Husky or Malamute will be happy in any temperature below 75F but will not tolerate higher temps at all. On the other end of the spectrum an Australian cattle dog for example will tolerate temps up to 90F fairly well for long periods, but won't like temps below 25F.

Since you are in central Texas, I assume the problem is mostly heat so consider something insulated with roof insulation and a ceiling fan at a minimum, and don't leave them long.

I wouldn't leave my dog in the truck under any circumstances, but that's me. We do leave him in our RV Trailer while we are out skiing (cold obviously) which has heat and a temperature controlled fan, but not if it's going to get hot enough to be > 75. He's the one in my avatar image, a Husky.
 

chet6.7

Explorer
I removed the backseat of my crew cab for a pet carrier, I put a 0 sleeping bag over it at night in winter, and have 2 12V fans for summer. I would never leave the vehicle parked in the sun for longer than a fuel stop.
The AC on my truck is barely adequate for the cab in summer, I would be surprised if the added heat of a shell could be handled by the stock AC. I would have a way of monitoring the camper temp in the cab, I would do some testing before keeping pets back there. It was before my trip, the interstate was shut down for 5 hours in 110 plus temps, that could be dangerous or fatal. I carry a sprayer for evaporative cooling and sun shades for an emergency.
 
Last edited:

Porkchopexpress

Well-known member
I'll throw out another consideration. I had a truck with a camper shell and put my young dog in the bed when the weather was nice with the vents open a few times. Every time she pooped in there. I thought she just had to go the first time but after the second or third, I realized she was scared. I wish that I would have figured it out quicker.
 

JJEH

Observer
Thank y'all for your replies so far.

Yes, all the space in the cab is occupied. Unfortunately our Laramie came as 5-seater, otherwise putting Misty on the rear bench might have worked.

PSX_20200915_1153211.jpg

Speaking of Misty; she's a 5yr old Anatolian/German Shepherd mix. She lived with a guy that later became ill and passed away. Misty ended up in a shelter and that's where we found her 9 months ago.

She's a beautiful dog but she's also scared of a lot of things. I don't think she went much outside when her old owner became ill.

Anyway, she's part of the family now and we don't want to leave her behind.

We had a 2013 Durango and we thought about getting one again. But these prices for new vehicles are getting more and more ridiculous in my opinion.
So we thought about an alternative, because we do love our Ram and it's only 3yrs old.

I was thinking about a duct like type of construction between both sliding windows, so the vehicle a/c can cool down the bed.
Perhaps I'm too optimistic here but that plus some fans in the rear could work?!

I don't really like it because I'd rather have her in the cab but that's an option we are thinking about.

The coast is ~4hrs from here, but we have upcoming 14hr trips ahead of us.

If that doesn't work we'll need a dog sitter :-/
 

skyfree

Active member
Beautiful dog.

I see, you are talking about having the dog in the shell while actually moving down the road, not leaving the dog in there while you are somewhere else. Sorry I misunderstood. If the dog is comfortable there (not getting carsick and mostly sleeping) that's less of a problem. Crack the side sliding window in the shell, open the window to the cab completely, and monitor the temperature from the driver seat with a wireless thermometer if you think it might get too warm or cold.

Add some reflectix to the inside of the shell if it's getting too warm and see if that helps. Adding A/C to the shell will be difficult and expensive. Heat is much easier obviously.

The only other thing is that it's not really safe having passengers in a shell in a rollover crash. I saw this once in Tahoe and all 6(!) dogs came out and were running all over the place on the road. I would be a little concerned about CO getting sucked into a shell from the exhaust but that's probably something I'm remembering from the old days.
 

JJEH

Observer
Thank you. Yes, she's a beauty....and a @#$%^&* (sometimes) 😆

Perhaps my explanation was/is confusing, but we are indeed looking for a solution while traveling. We won't ever leave an animal in a car and leave that area!
We'll either go camping or look for a motel/hotel that allows pets.

A crate or some kind of restraining device shouldn't be the problem. She loves car rides and I think once she's getting used to sitting in the bed she should be okay.

As many have pointed out, my only real concern is the heat and how I can make sure to cool down the bed area.
 

workerdrone

Part time fulltimer
I like the idea of a crate strapped or bolted down in a truck bed for some protection in case of an accident, or any necessary swerving or hard braking. Also a wireless thermometer of some kind to monitor temps could bring some peace of mind....

But I've just always put dogs in the back of my pickups without a lot of these concerns about the overheating since the animal is shaded and while the vehicle is in motion they have air movement as well. I wouldn't leave them parked like that unless it's just running into a store for a couple of minutes to grab something.

Same with the cold - they usually have some nice padding/bed to lie down in and they seem fine with it. I can usually monitor them through the open or closed slider windows, talk to them, or give scratches or share some treats while in motion

Another possibility if you're worried about heat - I've seen cooling pads for sale but have never tried any - something with some thermal mass I guess that uses some evaporative cooling to wick away body heat if the dog will lie down on it?
 

malibubts

Adventurer
I doubt this is the exact same thing that my dad has, but it's the same concept.

Cap Boot

As I mentioned that, a fan, and a bit of patience/monitoring works well for transport and obviously not leaving the dogs in the truck unattended in the heat. Granted this is OH/KY/IN/MI conditions and not Texas, but it works well over here.
 
My 2¢ worth... I have two trucks, one with a Leer canopy, the other with an ARE. In my opinion, the ARE is the better made canopy. They offer a tilt down front slider, so you can wash the windows between cab and canopy. They also have dog proof screens that go on the inside of the side window to protect the bug screens.

If it is really hot, I open the cab and canopy sliders to vent cool air through the canopy. I’m also a fan of quality dog crates strapped down in the bed. Crate insulation for winter.
 

malibubts

Adventurer
My 2¢ worth... I have two trucks, one with a Leer canopy, the other with an ARE. In my opinion, the ARE is the better made canopy. They offer a tilt down front slider, so you can wash the windows between cab and canopy. They also have dog proof screens that go on the inside of the side window to protect the bug screens.
I don't have an ARE to compare against overall, but Leers offer a tilt down window too FWIW. Not sure about the dog screens.
 

billiebob

Well-known member
No matter what you do, every 2-3 hours dogs need out. This is how Huskies get transorted at 40 below, fresh straw beds often.
In a compact space with straw a dog can stay plenty warm, but they need a chance to pee every couple of hours. AND water.

baker_g.jpg


PS my dogs gets spoilt. For 30 years they have had their own platform in place of the back seat.
Never in a box or cage.
trlr 019.jpeg

The latest version of Bills dog, will ride like this for hours, the only dog I know who lives for the trip. He misses nothing.
 
Last edited:

simple

Adventurer
An air pressurized mist system could cool it down. Or make a swamp cooler. An open window on the front of the topper with a wet towel or something and open rear side windows could create a cool draft of air while driving.
 
Top